Both Ohlsson and Gerstein are known for their recordings of Busoni concertos, and their confidence in interpreting the somewhat unwieldy work was evident.San Francisco Classical Voice: Pianists Garrick Ohlsson and Kirill Gerstein Are Thrilling Together12 Nov 2020
“The rarely heard Ferruccio Busoni Fantasia contrappuntistica opened with a vibrant proclamation. Both Ohlsson and Gerstein are known for their recordings of Busoni concertos, and their confidence in interpreting the somewhat unwieldy work was evident. The nervous and unsettling Allegro in Preludio unambiguously set the stage for the 20-plus minutes of what was to come. The polytonality blended bold colors in the Corale, while distant hymns added an unsettling atmosphere. The fugues that followed were imbued with clear voices and stern determination.
The acoustic quality was also apparent in the Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances, which were written concurrently with the more commonly heard orchestral version, presumably with ballet rehearsals in mind. The projection of orchestral colors and intricate crisscrossing evoked kinesthesis. The melancholic melody in the middle section of the first movement evoked heart-wrenching emotions, and the dark waltz, with its omnipresent diminished chords, maintained an eerie atmosphere throughout. Here, the minds and the hands of the two pianists were in perfect synchrony, projecting a unified narrative. Rhythmic tension in the third movement, with rapidly changing tonality and fickle repeated notes suggested dancers flying precariously in the air while remaining in utmost control.”