Alice Sara Ott

Beethoven

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It would be easy to be put off by the Vogue magazine graphics of this release by German-Japanese pianist Alice Sara Ott. But give her a try: this is a fresh reading of some very often recorded music. Ott's Beethoven is delicate, detailed, and close-up, working through the music in depth, and she manages to take the Piano Sonata No. 3 in C major, Op. 2/3, out of the realm of Haydn and make it look forward to Schubert with smooth, long lines that build structures out of the piano figuration. The slow movement in Ott's hands is a nocturne with a quite unusual hypnotic quality. In the main attraction, the Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53 ("Waldstein"), Ott goes completely counter to trends with a measured, deliberate reading that brings out every note. For those who like the fist-shaking Beethoven, this is definitely not for them, but the level of detail can be startling. There are versions of the "Waldstein" finale that treat the double-octave scale that accompanies the fully flowered them as a sort of mighty glissando, and there are some that articulate every note. Few indeed are those that bring out the little downward scale that answers it in this stirring yet remarkably intricate passage, but Ott takes the time to find it and specify it. These are the kinds of readings that used to be called feminine, but few artists of either gender have done them this way for quite some time, and Ott carries them through convincingly. Again, they're very much low-key, and the concluding Rage Over a Lost Penny, Op. 129, amounts to no more than mild annoyance. A recommended Beethoven debut, gutsy in its way even if not for everybody.

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