ALBUM TITLE: Grieg
WORKS: ‘Wonderland’: Piano Concerto; Lyric Pieces; Pieces from Peer Gynt
PERFORMER: Alice Sara Ott (piano); Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Esa-Pekka Salonen
CATALOGUE NO: DG 479 4631
You might forgive this album’s rather contrived title, Wonderland, if you happen to agree that Norway is a magical place; certainly Edvard Grieg’s home, Troldhaugen, near Bergen, by a fjord surrounded by mountains and greenery, is a good start. But what we have here is yet another recording of his ever-ubiquitous Piano Concerto. Alice Sara Ott gives a strong-centred account with plenty of power and flair; and she is much blessed to have as her companions the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, sounding fabulous under Esa-Pekka Salonen with radiant tone and the textures shimmering with detail.
In the selection of Lyric Pieces and some numbers from Peer Gynt, Ott displays a good range of expression, conjuring deep lyricism for Solveig’s Song, and light, glittering fingerwork for the regrettably titled March of the Trolls. At times her playing possibly veers towards the dutiful instead of the imaginative or personal – for instance, too often recurring articulations or phrasing nuances tend to be repeated rather than varied – and the Wedding Day at Troldhaugen sounds more like a formal registry office event than a joyous garden party. Despite many fine qualities, a little more wit and sparkle wouldn’t hurt. The recorded sound quality makes the most of all that her tone and the orchestra’s have to offer.