Alice Sara Ott, Queen Elizabeth Hall
Wednesday 23 November 2011
Every year the international piano circus requires a new pin-up: last year’s was Yuja Wang, this year it’s Alice Sara Ott.
This 23-year-old German-Japanese had a charmed early life studded with competition triumphs which started when she was five, and her debut Liszt recording was a miraculous meld of power and precision. Her subsequent Cds of Chopin waltzes and Beethoven sonatas suggest her touch needs to mature a little.
This Southbank recital was her London solo debut. We knew from her concerto appearance at the Proms that she would play barefoot – for a better symbiosis with the pedals - but when she tripped onstage like a Vestal virgin in a skimpily-clinging white shift, one realised why the house was packed. The evening was a marketing triumph before she’d even played a note.
Her first foray had a bright playfulness which perfectly suited Mozart’s rarely-performed ‘Variations in D on a Minuet by Duport’. This late work runs the familiar Mozartian gamut of variation-moods, and Ott characterised each with coltish charm. Then came the ‘Sonata in C major Op2 No3’ with which the young Beethoven announced both his keyboard virtuosity and his ground-breaking originality as a composer. The first movement was smart as a whip, and the tumbling, somersaulting Scherzo was deft in the extreme, but the Adagio – one of those early middle movements which adumbrate the great slow movements of Beethoven’s maturity – made all the right gestures but somehow stayed detached, rather than getting inside the composer’s mind.
Ott revealed serious limitations with the Chopin Waltzes which opened the second half. The A flat major ‘Grande Valse Brillante’ had heel-clicking elegance, but the lovely A minor one which followed it was shorn of all its plangent poetry. The ‘Minute’ waltz was suitably frisky, but the ravishingly dreamy C sharp minor one turned out frisky too. Meanwhile Liszt’s ‘Harmonies du soir’ and ‘Chasse-neige’ – which ought to have been near-polar opposites – emerged alike over-pedalled, while his richly suggestive ‘Rigoletto’ paraphrase became a mere firework display. Beethoven’s ‘Fur Elise’, her first encore, sounded oddly like Chopin; her second, Liszt’s ‘La Campanella’, was circus stuff. All fine in its way - and Lang Lang had better watch out - but for now this young woman’s artistry has a curiously Teflon quality.
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
newsFormer soldier taped 33 of the animals to the floor and then stamped on them one by one
Michelle Nijhuis' daughter insists (s)he is, and she learnt a valuable lesson on gender in books
Geoffrey Macnab reviews American Hustle, also starring Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper
news Opponents claim it would stop performers such as Beyonce and Madonna appearing on TV
It takes a platoon of chefs, litres of brandy and rum, and almost 100kg of dried fruit
newsThat most ancient of crimes is on the rise, threatening farmers' livelihoods, community trust – and human health
Arts & Ents blogs
Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
Justin Bieber isn't retiring from music after all: Pop star says he was 'messing around'
American Hustle, review: 'Jennifer Lawrence is brilliant as the neurotic housewife'
Justin Bieber's mishaps and controversies
Is Bilbo Baggins a girl?
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
Anachronistic and iniquitous, grammar schools are a blot on the British education system
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 North Koreans are gasping for the truth: Let's give it to them
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 5 Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
- < Previous
- Next >