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How expressive should the accompaniment be in comparison to the melody? I think I tend to 'lock in' the left hand dynamics to the right hand too much. I'm wondering what the common practice approach is here.

I'm thinking primarily about works where there is an aria-like right hand melody with a highly figured left hand accompaniment (e.g. everything from Chopin Nocturnes to Einaudi-style pieces).

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A lot of it depends on context and the style of the piece.

Marches tend to lean toward a straight left hand keeping a steady pulse.

Waltzes often use a lot of expression in the left hand to enforce the iconic rhythm.

Many jazz standards use a kind of call and response between the hands, playing the right hand expressively, then the left, then the right again and so on.

Baroque music uses little to no expression in either hand.

Classical era music, in general, strongly favors right hand expression that is supported by lesser expression in the left hand.

Many romantic pieces utilize expression from both hands equally, or nearly so.

In the end, it's up to you. Do whatever sounds good (and maybe look up a few pieces in the same style to get some idea of the standard conventions).

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There's a concept in piano that addresses what you are starting to think about: voicing. You get to decide, as you go along, which line, or voice, needs to come out more, or less, and adjust accordingly. When I was practice coach for my son's piano study, I would check this by going across the room and closing my eyes and just listen. When there's interesting stuff going on in the left hand, you can bring the interesting bits out more. When it's rather boring broken chords that can be less -- but if there's a crescendo towards some transition or whatever, the left hand can support the crescendo to add to the drama. Etc. Have fun.

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