Tuesday, May 14, 2013

concert review: Garrick Ohlsson, piano

It was Ohlsson vs. the Oshman acoustics at this concert, and the results were something of a draw. Ohlsson wants to play with the most intensely subtle shades of color and tone, while Oshman's acoustics insist on turning everything into big bold splashes of primary crayons.

Ohlsson managed to get his point across in a few miniatures by the American impressionist Charles Tomlinson Griffes, but his Chopin (Opp. 31 and 49) was less successful. I've heard him play these pieces with melting beauty before, and was sorry to have it knocked out of the park this time.

As for the louder and noisier half of the program, Beethoven's Op. 28 sonata and Schubert's "Wanderer" Fantasy - the latter probably the noisiest of Schubert's piano music - forget it. Ohlsson lost the battle and the crayons ruled. I was particularly sorry at the absence of the soft stealthiness that ought to dominate Beethoven's Andante, one of my favorites of his slow movements.

This was the last Oshman concert of the season, and the first one ever, I think, featuring a performer I'd heard before, or even heard of.

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