From the first sounds, I was struck by the originality of the American pianist's pianistic imagination.

Wrocław recital – Garrick Ohlsson and the Constant Discovery of Chopin26 Jan 2023

Telewizja Racjonalista

From the first sounds, I was struck by the originality of the American pianist’s pianistic imagination. The nocturnes were indeed nocturnal, the dark sounds of the left hand were exposed above the highlights coming from the right hand. The musical culmination of moods were deliberately distanced, almost blurred.

The Barcarolle and the Fantasy brought new musical discoveries. I realized that Ohlsson wanted to get as close as possible to the intentions of the composer himself, to get closer to Chopin’s imagination, to the state of mind that made his imagination dance. So the expression of these fanciful forms was delicate, almost dreamlike and very fresh. It was almost improvised music and at the same time clearly defined by a classicizing form, which does not always happen in Chopin performances, although we know that the composer himself appreciated the elegance of form understood in this way.

The American pianist’s interpretations had nothing of the wild pianistic populism, nor were they introverted. Their leitmotif was the desire to best reflect Chopin’s extraordinary imagination. And Ohlsson succeeded in this almost impossible undertaking, thanks to his excellent technique, timbre and dynamic sensitivity, excellent differentiation of low tones and perfect piano in the high registers. Ohlsson didn’t have to shine and scream, he didn’t have to combine more expressive chords into spectacular bundles. Thanks to the fact that he was able to distinguish singing from speech, and speech from whispering, Chopin’s music lived under his fingers and amazed with its eternal youth, constant originality and creativity.

In the second part of the concert we had the Impromptu in F sharp major and the Sonata in B minor. The Impromptu was played so originally that I still think about it and don’t know what to write about it. Thanks to the pianist’s sensitivity, the B minor sonata became a compact and logical structure, full of internal tension and passionate poeticism. The sounds whispered and froze in silence. The opening motifs of the third movement were not cannon shots, but a continuous motif, connecting not only this movement, but also the entire sonata, flowing in time in both directions – the past and the future.