Alice Sara Ott in Beethoven

Alice Sara Ott in Beethoven
Alice Sara Ott in Beethoven

This is, in many ways, a fascinating disc. The interest here lies in the couplings: a carefully-judged mix of the super-familiar with the rare.

The Concerto, No. 1, has been covered here on Classical Explorer a number of times, often through complete sets. The Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra under Karina Canellakis joins Ott for her performance, ad it is clear there is a strong link between soloist and conductor. There is much to admire oabout Ott’s playing, for sure: and together, Ott and Kannelakis give the music space in the fist movement development. Apparently the performance was put together in one day in the recording studio, which adds an extra frisson:

The second movement is magical, with pianist, conductor and orchestra in perfect alignment. This is clearly the disc’s finest achievement:

The finale, too, is a triumph – the character is magnificent, Ott finding new detail and cheeky accents aplenty, the Dutch woodwind clearly revelling in their contributions:

The so-called “Moonlight” Sonata follows immediately on from the bright light of the end of he concerto: the veiling is effective, as is Ott’s performance of the first movement, with voice-leading beautifully done. The finale has pearly articulation, yet fire, too. Thee is a touch of Pollini’s intensity about this, although Ott uses less pedal than the Italian master, to fine effect. Here’s that finale:

For all of the excellence of Für Elise, it is the way Ott plays the Bagatelle in G minor, Op. 119/1 that impresses. On the surface not technically demanding, it nevertheless holds great depths:

The final two are WoO’s – Werke ohne Opus, so what might be construed minor pieces. Ott convinces us others: “Lustig-Traurig” is the label of the Klavierstück (translated in the documentation as Piano Piece for the title) in C major / Minor, its split personality beautifully conveyed by Ott. The rare use of indications such as ‘Lustig’ (merry) and ‘Traurig’ (sad) by Beethoven marks this piece out. there is also no tempo indication. Ott is delightful, and seems to fully understand the piece’s schizophrenic basis:

Marino Tirimo, whose complete set we considered on this site some time ago, is more convincing still, his teasing way with the “Lustig” sections adding intrigue; there is more a sense of Beethoven’s cheekiness, too:

Finally, the Klavierstück in B minor, WoO 61, an Allegretto written in 1821, full of counterpoint and all the more fascinating for it (not to be confused with the Klavierstück WoO 61a, written some four years later, and in G-Minor). Both Hess and Blamonti catalogues give these two pieces different numbers. Anyway, Ott opts for a veiled, slightly pedalled, reverberant way with the opening to create contrast late on with the staccato passage (which still has some reverb around it). Again, Martino Tirimo for comparison, who’s clear-cut lines seal the deal for me in this piece:

Finally, for the Beethoven catalogue geek, here’s the Bagatelles WoO 61, 61 and 61a, all with scrolling score, performed by Jörg Demus on an old Vanguard release:

Having gone on a little diversion there, Ott’s release remains fascinating and has many, may moments that will enthral.

At the time of writing (May 7), the Ott is available at Amazon for the enigmatic but cheap price of £8.16; Tirimo’s box has gone up since the original post and is now £41.36.

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