Alice Sara Ott's 2013 CD of keyboard works by Modest Mussorgsky and Franz Schubert was part of a recital she gave at St. Petersburg's White Nights festival, recorded on July 3, 2012, in the Mariinsky Theatre. This album was the result of discussions between Ott and Deutsche Grammophon to release a disc of solo repertoire, and recording her live presented an appealing opportunity to add the ever-popular Pictures at an Exhibition to her discography. If the atmosphere of the occasion can be detected in Ott's expressions, it is perhaps most noticeable in subtle nuances, rather than in the bigger gestures. For all of the piece's grandeur and weight, Ott seems to shine most in the quieter sections, and her delicate playing takes on a poetic quality that is lacking in the loud, clangorous passages, which are all vigor and bravado. On this disc (though not in the order of the recital), Pictures is followed by Schubert's Sonata in D major, D. 850, which balances the program with its length and gravitas, though its moods are more enigmatic and elusive. Ott's controlled handling of the Con moto and Finale is admirable, though her playing in the first movement and the Scherzo is fairly aggressive and hard-edged. Ott's many fans will want this CD for the energy and fire she displays, though newcomers may want to hear her studio albums to get a clearer impression of her abilities.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Pictures at an Exhibition|
|Piano Sonata in D major, Op. 53 D. 850|