...the performance as a whole given by pianist Garrick Ohlsson was one of those musical experiences that will go down on everyone’s permanent mental record.Busoni with the Cleveland Orchestra10 Feb 2019
“Not every measure of Busoni’s epic, rarely heard Piano Concerto will linger in the mind, but the performance as a whole given by pianist Garrick Ohlsson was one of those musical experiences that will go down on everyone’s permanent mental record.
Few pianists on Earth have the desire, talent, and sheer fortitude to perform the Busoni, a titanic, grandly virtuosic work from 1904 spanning some 70 minutes and concluding with an ode for male chorus. Ohlsson, though, is in that elite group.
To the extent it’s possible to make sense of such an abstruse, panoramic work, a collection of five movements that could have been penned by as many different composers, Ohlsson did so. He saw right past the music’s length and daunting technical demands and simply enjoyed its raucous flights of fancy and seemingly endless twists and turns.
In lesser hands, those reams of knuckle-busting passage-work would have sounded like bluster. With Ohlsson, however, they sounded purposeful and expressive.
Ohlsson’s virtually peerless keyboard muscle was another asset in Busoni. To each of the concerto’s many varied peaks, he brought a level of thunder few pianists can conjure, yielding high points that almost literally rocked the house.”
“At seventy, Ohlsson possesses technique, endurance, and vigor that a pianist half his age would envy. His performance was a marvel of virtuosity, and he played with Olympian serenity and equanimity, dispatching the most strenuous passages with apparent ease. Even his tempestuous, thunderous episodes were less wild than inexorable.”