Chopin – Complete Waltzes

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Chopin
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Waltzes
PERFORMER: Alice Sara Ott (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: DG 477 8095

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The young German-Japanese pianist Alice Sara Ott is clearly a cultured musician, but on this disc of Chopin waltzes she seems straitjacketed – not so much by being too prim and proper (although there is some danger of that), but rather by a restricted range of expression, tonal palette and rhythmic flexibility.

Ott’s passagework in the brillante waltzes can certainly fizz when Chopin requires – Op. 34 No. 3 is especially successful – but generally she portrays the music in a rather one-dimensional way. The music operates in an entirely horizontal fashion, with very little interest or variety given to the left hand, while Ott’s rubato is undeveloped and feels applied rather than organic. Moreover, this is music that demands a greater range of colour and expressive identity.

When placed alongside Ingrid Fliter’s recent EMI account, these shortcomings are brought sharply into focus. Fliter brings so much more inner life and diversity to these pieces: her passagework is inflected with a sparkling charm and natural sense of ebb and flow, and her feeling for musical shape extends ‘vertically’, allowing a much richer textural depth and variety.

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Furthermore, Fliter doesn’t truncate some of the posthumous waltzes, as Ott does (Op. 70, for example).DG’s recording sound is superbly immediate. Hopefully Ott can use such advantageous conditions on future recordings to project a greater musical personality. Tim Parry