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The ‘close connections’ of this disc’s title are to Ohlsson himself (two of the five pieces were written for him). Louis Weingarten studied with Elliott Carter. His Triptych presents the composer’s response to three Bible stories in hard-edged music. The brash recording and Ohlsson’s hard tone make this a forbidding experience, although one has to admire Ohlsson’s pianism. In contrast, Shall We Dance by Robert Helps is gently bittersweet à la Berlin cabaret. Ohlsson is low on charm, and is far better in Wolpe’s complex and austere Passacaglia (1936). Yet even here, there is the feeling he cannot sustain Wolpe’s argument convincingly. The William Hibbard recording is less astringent, and Ohlsson’s virtuosity is all-encompassing. The final work is Oldřich Korte’s Sonata (1951-53), a piece which certainly deserves more general circulation.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2013 - ©Rhinegold Publishing