"Alice Sara Ott is a young artist to watch. These are simply stunning, musical interpretations of the waltzes. Her formidable technique is wonderfully balanced with beautiful sound, color, finesse and utterly natural and sincere feeling." -- ArkivMusic
"This is a beautifully recorded disc, and a performance that will appeal to your insightful and literary side. These are ‘romantic’ performances, but thankfully going far further than perfumed superficiality. Stopping short recording these waltzes on Chopin’s old Pleyel piano, this is the kind of playing to which one’s own imagination can easily be cast back with a fair conviction that this is how Chopin would like to hear his pieces played, and it doesn’t getRead more much better than that." -- Dominy Clements, MusicWeb International
Ott’s triumphant recital at Munich’s Herkulessaal in January 2007, performing Beethoven and Liszt, occasioned the Süddeutsche Zeitung to rave that “Ott lends a personal, almost overwhelming poetic charm to this splendid music, transporting her listeners into ecstatic delight”. Her recent concerts in Germany this summer led to similar raving reviews, spear-headed by Hamburger Abendblatt which called her a pianist of devilish talent. Read less
Waltzes for Piano, op 34: No 1 in A flat "Valse brillante"
Waltzes for Piano, op 64: No 1 in D flat "Minute Waltz"
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Odd Chopin from OttDecember 16, 2011By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH)See All My Reviews"I write this review knowing I'll get many "unhelpful" votes, and at the risk of coming off like a grumpy old man. But, here goes.
What the heck has happened to Deutsche Grammophon? There was a time when DG was considered the sui generis of Classical labels, with an artist roster than ran the gamut from Bernstein to Karajan and Horowitz to Pollini. Now, their fortunes have sunk to the degree that even Lang Lang (after forcing Yundi Li from the label) has jumped ship for the crossover label, Sony.
I'd never heard of Alice Sara Ott before encountering this recording, despite my keen interest in piano performance. Her sole claim to fame is winning First Prize at a very minor piano competition in 2004. Her technique is serviceable to the extent that she can play the notes evenly, and control a crescendo or diminuendo with reasonable accuracy.
In the "Golden Age", one could easily tell a pianist by his/her individual sound and approach to the music. By the latter half of the 20th Century, that was less & less the case, as the purist approach and interpretive anonymity became fetishized. Now, the pendulum has swung back - and how. There is a growing trend in Classical music performance and Ms. Ott is part of it: with the endless duplication of recorded repertoire, musicians are becoming desperate to distinguish themselves from their peers. It seems musicians are offering increasingly bizarre interpretations not for personal expression, but to be different for the sake of being different.
Take, for example, Ms. Ott's performance of the Waltz in A-flat, Op. 42 (the so-called "Two-Four" waltz): the charm of this piece rests on the conflict between the melody, which is shaped as if it were in 2/4 time, and the accompaniment, which is clearly in ¾ time (the actual notation of the waltz is in ¾ time, of course). If this waltz were an opera aria, it would depict a husband and wife bickering with each other. Ott throws rubato all over the place and constantly changes tempo, so that the point of the piece is lost. Ott fusses with the music far more than, say, Rachmaninoff would have, and in a totally inorganic way which is poles apart from the inner-logic of the late-Romantic generation.
Clearly, Ms. Ott understands neither Chopin nor Romantic performance practice. Believe it or not, there were rules during the Romantic era. One such rule was to always begin a piece in a direct manner, so that rubato and other expressive devices would be effective when employed later in the work. In other words, rubato is an effect, not a constant.
DG's recorded sound is nothing to write home about, either. It manages to be both glaring and distant at the same time. I suspect the piano was recorded close up with artificial reverb laid on thick in post-production, and the high frequencies sound attenuated.