Alice Sara Ott

Chopin: Complete Waltzes

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German-Japanese pianist Alice Sara Ott is a performer who appears to care more about the score and the composer than about her image and interpretations. After promoting Lang-Lang, a pianist of maximal technique but debatable taste, DG has given Ott an exclusive recording contract, and her first release, the complete waltzes of Chopin, shows her to be a pianist of taste and restraint. That is not to say that her performances here are ever less than dazzling, because she plays with supreme ease, or any less than affecting, because she brings out everything in the scores, from sparkling wit to darkest melancholy. But Ott is not interested in demonstrating her technique or in grandstanding her interpretations. Everything here is in the score: the tender countermelodies, the long legato phrasing, the exquisite harmonic balances, and the lilting rubato. It sounds fresh and natural because Ott herself seems fresh and natural, and apparently not at all a showoff. Though by no means the greatest performances of the waltzes ever recorded -- Dinu Lipatti's EMI recording is now and likely always will be the most beautiful, the most masterful, and the most moving version of these works -- Ott's recording is well worth hearing by anyone who loves the music. The sound of DG's digital recording is limpid.

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