Garrick Ohlsson: In Pursuit Of A Warhorse | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Garrick Ohlsson: In Pursuit Of A Warhorse

Play associated audio

Pianist Garrick Ohlsson launched his career in 1970, when he became the first American to win the International Chopin Competition. Since then, he's performed and recorded an exceptionally wide range of piano literature — Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert and much more. But there's one romantic warhorse he's avoided in the recording studio until now: Rachmaninov's flashy and notoriously finger-twisting Piano Concerto No. 3.

All my piano heroes share a common tradition — that showmanship can hinder the honest interpretation of a composer's intent. That dedication to pure music-making is what most characterizes Ohlsson.

At one time, it was fashionable to dismiss Rachmaninov as a second-rate composer who wore his heart on his sleeve, but this pianist shows that there's plenty of muscle in Rachmaninov's musical craft.

When Ohlsson walks onstage, at 6-feet-4, he's an imposing figure. He looks like he could crush the piano with one big chord, and he does have a massive technique that makes short order of Rachmaninov's famously difficult passages. But Ohlsson can move from thunder to silk with extraordinary ease.

This is music composed on a grand canvas; its opulent textures and rhapsodic melodies require exquisite interactions among pianist, conductor and orchestra. And the Atlanta Symphony, with conductor Robert Spano, joins Ohlsson in this deeply inspired collaboration.

Ohlsson's recording of the "Rach 3" has given me new interest in this very familiar piece. I can't stop myself from repeating movements, even skipping around to sections just to get another taste of their emotional impact. Rachmaninov's third piano concerto is a heroic work, certainly, and Garrick Ohlsson is the piano hero who has brought us one of its finest performances.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Little Dancer' Musical Imagines The Story Behind Degas' Mysterious Muse

Ballerina Marie Van Goethem started modeling for Edgar Degas around 1878 and inspired his statue Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. But history lost track of her after she left the Paris Opera.
NPR

Chef Ottolenghi Makes The Case For 'Plenty More' Vegetables

Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi talks with Rachel Martin about the difference between supermarket hummus and Middle Eastern hummus and why he doesn't like to call his cookbooks "vegetarian."
NPR

Turf Shifts In Culture Wars As Support For Gay Marriage Rises

Campaigning against gay marriage used to help Republicans win elections — but now GOP candidates in tight races are backing away from mentioning social issues on the stump.
NPR

Getting Medical Advice Is Often Just A Tap Away

NPR's Arun Rath speaks with infectious disease specialist and HealthTap member Dr. Jonathan Po about telemedicine and hypochondria in a time of heightened health concern.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.