Left, Alone for Piano (left hand) and Orchestra was composed by Hans Abrahamsen in 2014-15.
Commissioned by Westdeutscher Rundfunk and co-commissioned by City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.
Premiered by the WDR Sinfonieorchester and Alexandre Tharaud (piano) concducted by Ilan Volkov on January 29, 2016, Cologne.
I was born with a right hand that is not fully functional, and though it never prevented me from loving playing the piano as well as I could with this physical limitation, it has obviously given me an alternative focus on the whole piano literature and has given me a close relationship with the works written for the left hand by Ravel and others. This repertoire has been with me since my youth. My very first public performance of one of my own works was in autumn 1969. The piece was called October and I played the piano with my left hand and the horn, my principal instrument (the only instrument that can be played with only the left hand). Part of the piece requires the performer to play natural harmonics of the horn directly into the open strings of the grand piano to create resonance. The pedal was kept down by an assistant lying on the floor. Through decades the idea of writing a larger work for piano left hand has been in my mind. This new work is not written for a pianist with only one hand, but rather by a composer who can only play with the left hand. The title Left, alone contains all kinds of references, not only to the obvious fact that the left hand is playing alone. Left, alone is divided into two large parts, each consisting of three smaller movements – in effect, six in total. The work was commissioned by Westdeutscher Rundfunk, and co-commissioned by City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Rotterdam Philharmonic and written for Alexandre Tharaud.
Hans Abrahamsen, 2015