horizontal line

One programme, two very different instruments: an 1849 Erard and a modern Steinway. Perhaps surprisingly there is little difference in Garrick Ohlsson’s approach. Whether the piano is light-toned and restricted or resonant and full-toned, the playing is unfailingly serious and dependable. His high-minded interpretations are shorn of all excess, but also of magic, volatility and a sense of poetic resource.

His way with the Fourth Scherzo is too comfortable and sedate for its elfin and elusive nature. Musical honesty and a lack of self-conscious idiosyncrasy characterises the Mazurkas but result in earthbound performances – particularly compared with Rubinstein’s early 1938- 39 set (available on Naxos) or Argerich’s astonishingly fluid and mercurial view of Op 59. Th e listener longs for a greater sense of the audacious harmonic resolution at the start of the Nocturne in B major Op 62, as well as for a more beguiling evocation of the nightingales of Nohant that follow.

Occasionally, as in the storm at the heart of the F major Nocturne or in the final pages of the G minor Ballade, there are reminders of Ohlsson’s power during his prize-winning glory days (he won three top international competitions in rapid succession), but today his Chopin is too respectable. And Chopin is not a respectable composer.

BRYCE MORRISON Read the full review on Agora Classica

   Read full review   

To continue reading, please upgrade to a premium account. You will have immediate full access.

Read more classical music reviews online here:

Piano International, 2019 - ©Rhinegold Publishing