Barber’s sole piano concerto... begins with an Allegro appassionato whose quicksilver runs and trills, under Ohlsson’s hands, flew like swift-flowing streams of thousands of slippery-smooth, tiny pearls.

DC Metro Theater Arts: National Symphony Orchestra at The Kennedy Center Concert Hall23 Oct 2017

His nimble fingers – there had to have been hundreds of them; how else could so many individual notes have been so piercingly sharp, so meticulously played, and so distinctly heard – hammered relentlessly, turning the pearls into silver-steel balls, then repeatedly clawed and seized the keys, his hands rippling and roiling across the keyboard, suggesting the menacing approach of rumbling thunder. The movement ends with a startling blast, here the piano and orchestra in perfect, hair-raising sync.

The second movement, the well-named Canzone, or song, is a light and graceful contrast to the first, the NSO woodwinds’ sweetly clear calls evoking birds and woodland greenery, the orchestra’s reverie joined, as if emanating from a single soul, with Ohlsson’s delicate trills and gentle pianos.

DC Metro Theater Arts