Concert reviews – Wonderland recital in London

ASO Concert Reviews, News

The Guardian

Andrew Clements, 18 October 2017

“Alice Sara Ott brought technical brilliance and greater cohesion to her programme of Grieg and Liszt”

“What Ott described as the “wonderland” of Grieg’s little fantasies was contrasted with the “underworld” of the sonata, and it worked wonderfully well. The selection of lyric pieces contrasted familiar numbers, such as Butterfly and Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, with less well-known ones. It also mixed pieces from early in Grieg’s career, when his music still bore the imprint of Mendelssohn, Chopin and Schumann, with later ones in which his voice was much more personal, distinctive, and at times experimental. Ott’s presentation was energised and brightly lit; she never looked for profundity where there was none to be found, and emphatically placed the musical weight in her Grieg sequence on the Ballade, Op 24, which is a set of variations on a Norwegian folk song.

The fierceness with which the climax of the minor-key variations was presented, turned out to be a foretaste of the Liszt sonata, which was unflinchingly raw and direct, with snarling basslines and razor-edged chords. The performance did indeed conjure up the kind of threatening world Ott had spoken of, but it was presented with such technical brilliance, so crisply and cleanly articulated, that nothing was overbearing or overinsistent, but always dramatic and absorbing. If this really was the last time Ott is going to perform the sonata in public for a while, it was a pretty startling way to say goodbye to it.”

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Evening Standard

Barry Millington, 18 October 2017

“Rich imagination: Expect something magnificently cohesive in Alice Sara Ott’s latest offering”

“These pieces are familiar student fare, but it’s good to hear them realised by a high-calibre executant, especially one with such a fertile poetic imagination.
The fairies, the spring awakening, the wedding bells — all were dispatched with delicacy and tenderness.”

“her impressive sense of structure enabled her to sculpt richly imagined ideas into a magnificently cohesive and powerful whole.”

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photo: The Guardian, Photograph: Stefan Höderath/Redferns

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