If it becomes impossible to play with both hands, most pianists decide that it is better to continue making music somehow, rather than give it up entirely. Most discover that over the history of the instrument, a small but rewarding body of work for piano one hand, usually the left, has developed, typically a result of a composer trying to help an injured pianist preserve his/her creative outlet. Antoine Rebstein's career was just starting to blossom in 2003 when he started to lose the command of his right hand. He quickly discovered that left hand repertoire in order keep a recital date in August of that year. Some of the pieces he performed at that recital are included on this, his debut recording. The works range from Brahms' transcription of the Bach Chaconne (popular with two-handed pianists as well), to the practically unknown Suite No. 3 of Erwin Schulhoff. Rebstein has an amazingly luxuriant tone and thoughtfulness throughout the different types and sounds of the pieces, excellently captured in the recording. He is able to round each note and let it sing out regardless of the articulation, pedaling, the register on the instrument, or whether he's using his thumb or a finger. Pianists and violinists frequently perform the first rolled chords of Chaconne very sharply and intently, even with ferocity. Rebstein is more philosophical in it, playing with strength, but not forcefulness, and he is just as careful with the Romantic indulgences of the Scriabin pieces. The modern-yet-traditional, less obviously tonal Lipatti Sonatina and Schulhoff Suite are both very attractive works in his hand. The "Zingara" movement of the Suite is probably meant to be fierier, but he still gives it a spiky animation and energy. Rebstein's playing maintains its flow and glow through the finale of the Schulhoff and in the Godowsky, both of which have such a wealth of sound it's hard to believe only one hand is being used. Rebstein's debut would have been just as impressive for its consistent performance if he had been able to use both hands. The project following this one, an exploration of the left-hand piano concerto repertoire, should also be something to hear.
AllMusic Review by Patsy Morita
|Partita for solo violin No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004|
|Études (6) for piano, left hand, Op. 135|
|Sonatina for piano, left hand|
|Suite No. 3 for piano, left hand, WV.80|
Symphonic Metamorphoses of the Schatz-Walzer from Der Zigeunerbaron by Johann Strauss, for piano, left hand