With superbly immediate recorded sound courtesy of David Hinitt (November 2019, London) complementing Andrew Keener’s high-end production values, Garrick Ohlsson can totally focus on the first two Piano Sonatas to continue his notable if occasional Brahms series for Hyperion. This is the third instalment.
Following the end of the Opus One C-major First Sonata I thought to myself, “pretty damn marvellous”. Ohlsson’s masterly playing and divine blend of head and heart probe, richly express and blossom the music to its best effect, whether impassioned or intimate, con fuoco or Andante. Ohlsson is just as successful in looking beyond the pages’ thickets of notes to fully reveal the musical and emotional complexities of the Opus Two F-sharp minor Second Sonata, its grandeur, drive, dramatic contrasts, and lyricism, whether troubled or beguiling. Rarely have I found so much in this particular work, Ohlsson not denuding its formidable qualities while making sense of the whole. He also makes hay with the two moreish Rhapsodies Opus 79, his powerful technique and dynamic flair serving fiery, flexible, sensitive and (now) yardstick readings. What poise. How clearly bass notes register.
Misha Donat’s booklet note adds value to Hyperion CDA68334. Hopefully Mr Ohlsson will soon give us again (there’s an HMV LP of it from 1978) Brahms’s magnificent F-minor Sonata Opus 5.