Concert reviews – Liszt’s Totentanz with London Symphony Orchestra

ASO Concert Reviews, News


Ivan Hewett, 28 November 2017

“It may be a shallow score, but no one could have been disappointed by Alice Sara Ott’s delivery of the solo part. Very much the protagonist in the dialogue with orchestra, she displayed staggering power while sustaining tonal depth. Her rock-solid technique, mixing spitfire virtuosity with extreme delicacy, allowed her to shape the work into something more than merely a showpiece. However, her encore of Chopin’s posthumous C sharp minor Nocturne, its trills almost whispered, brought heart to this segment of the evening, while neatly reminding us of Liszt’s friendship with his fellow composer.”

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Mark Pullinger, 27 November 2017

“Alice Sara Ott launched herself fearlessly into this diabolical work. In a billowing black gown, her bass chords thudded while the brass intoned the Dies irae motif which Liszt then treats to half a dozen variations. Ott’s trills were fierce, her glissandos pugnacious, her staccato repeated notes rattled out with terrific precision. While her left hand pounded the Dies irae, flames flickered from her right hand along the keyboard’s upper reaches. Yet Ott’s devil wore an impish grin, the pianist exchanging gleeful smiles over her shoulder with leader Carmine Lauri, and she caressed the quieter moments, enveloping the score in rippled silk.

Ott dowsed the inferno with Chopin’s cooling Nocturne in C sharp minor, limpidly phrased. What a spectacular pianist she is.”

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The Times

Geoff Brown, 29 November 2017

“The pianist Alice Sara Ott…took its brazen follies on the chin. The furious cadenzas and glissandos were delivered so fast that I felt the piano keys melting. Hot on her heels, Pappano’s orchestra kept baying and crying, brass to the fore. All enjoyable in its way.”

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The Guardian

Tim Ashley, 27 November 2017

“Alice Sara Ott played with thrilling accuracy and involvement, whether hammering out the grinding dissonances of the opening, or deploying a filigree lightness of tone for the Bach-like fugue that forms the work’s single moment of reflection at its centre. Pappano was similarly in his element with the work’s furious energy and drama. Ott offered Chopin’s C Sharp Minor Nocturne as an encore – as exquisite as Totentanz was ferocious, and providing some much needed emotional relief.”

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Pianist Alice Sara Ott, conductor Antonio Pappano and London Symphony Orchestra in Total Liszt
Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

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