Earlier this year, pianist Alice Sara Ott became the face of the Apple Music Classical app when she starred in its launch video, performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 15 with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and its Chief Conductor Karina Canellakis. The recording of it now becomes the headline work in Ott’s latest Deutsche Grammophon album, Beethoven. The pianist has paired it with a series of solo works, including “Für Elise” and the “Moonlight” Sonata. Beethoven is released digitally on 28 July – together with a “Für Elise” video – and on CD on 29 September.
With global streams of 325 million and counting to her name, Alice Sara Ott is known as one of the most compelling artists of her generation. Beethoven follows 2021’s critically acclaimed Echoes Of Life, of which BBC Music Magazine said, “Her playing is technically unimpeachable, with beauty of tone, virtuoso flair and fine musical judgment throughout.”
Alice Sara Ott has long been praised for her insightful interpretations of Beethoven’s music. “He is a master of contrasts and proportions,” she explains, when asked what his work means to her. “In his music, the piano becomes an orchestra, a theatrical stage … he builds entire landscapes and cities with his musical architecture.”
That sense of scale and theatre is evident in Concerto No. 1. Intended to showcase Beethoven’s own pianistic virtuosity, its bold, dynamic writing anticipates the groundbreaking music he would go on to compose. Ott, Canellakis and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra rehearsed and recorded Concerto No. 1 in a single day and, by creating what the pianist calls “a common language”, achieved this interpretation of “musical clarity and transparency”.
The first of Ott’s solo choices for Beethoven is the ever popular “Moonlight” Sonata, which dates from the same period as Concerto No. 1. It was an instant sensation, not least because of its slow and dreamlike opening movement. Ott captures its varied moods, from that sombre beginning to the turbulence of the finale. After performing it, she says, “one feels transported both mentally and physically”.
The pianist rounds off the album with four miniatures, including the A minor Bagatelle, “Für Elise”. Her choices were made to “add a bit of spice” – but, as she adds, even “seemingly simple and ordinary gestures and melodies” can represent “an infinitely complex labyrinth”.
Alice Sara Ott – upcoming tour dates:
14 Jul – Lotte Concert Hall, Seoul (Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3)
15 Jul – Concert House, Deagu (Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3)
13 Aug – Menuhin Festival, Gstaad (Echoes Of Life repertoire)
16 Aug – Tivoli, Copenhagen (Echoes Of Life repertoire)
9 Sep – Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival, Redefin
14/16 Sep – DR Koncerthuset, Copenhagen
22 Sep – Maison de la Radio France, Paris
28/29 Sep – Le Nouveau Siècle, Lille (Grieg Piano Concerto)
30 Sep – Cité de la Musique et de la Danse, Soissons (Grieg: Piano Concerto)
4/5 Oct – Barbican Centre, London · 21 Oct – Konzerthaus, Dortmund
25 Oct – Auditorio Nacional de Música, Madrid
26 Oct – Palau de la Música Catalana, Barcelona (Liszt Totentanz)
6/7 Dec – Suntory Hall, Tokyo (Liszt: Piano Concerto No.1)