Garrick Ohlsson

Manuel de Falla: Fantasia Baetica; Piezas Españolas; El Amor Brujo; El Sombrero de Tres Picos

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Garrick Ohlsson, an American of Scandinavian background, might not be the first name you would think of in connection with Manuel de Falla, but these clean, careful readings of some Falla favorites (and a few less common items, like the exquisitely cross-cultural Song of the Volga Boatmen merit a hearing alongside the fiery versions of Alicia de Larrocha and other players from the Iberian world. Sample one of the pieces from El amor brujo, in Falla's own arrangement (all the non-piano music here was transcribed by Falla), perhaps the Danza del terror or the Danza ritual del fuego. You can certainly find any number of more sharply rhythmic versions of these pieces. But you'll also notice details in the phrasing and ornamentation that have escaped you in the past, and what's impressive is that Ohlsson's playing holds together: you never get the feeling that's he's trying to go counter to type or offer some kind of revisionist interpretation. In the quieter Homenaje "Pour le tombeau de Claude Debussy," Ohlsson is in his element. You might say that these are readings that emphasize the French side of Falla over the Spanish side, or just that Ohlsson is a pianistic giant with the talent and insight to produce interesting readings of music outside his specialties.

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