Music Articles

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Pianist Garrick Ohlsson has been in the classical music spotlight for more than 40 years, but he had never recorded one of the most famous works for piano - Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto Number Three - until now.

Ohlsson has teamed up with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and our classical music critic Tom Manoff can't stop listening.

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TOM MANOFF, BYLINE: All my piano heroes share a common tradition that showmanship can hinder the honest interpretation of the composer's intent. That kind of pure music making is what most characterizes Garrick Ohlsson.

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MANOFF: At one time, it was fashionable to dismiss Sergei Rachmaninoff as a second-rate composer who wore his heart on his sleeve, but this pianist shows that there's plenty of muscle in Rachmaninoff's musical craft.

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MANOFF: When Garrick Ohlsson walks on stage at six foot four, he's an imposing figure. He looks like he could crush the piano with one big chord and he does have a massive technique that makes short order of Rachmaninoff's famously difficult passages. But Garrick Ohlsson can move from thunder to silk with extraordinary ease.

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MANOFF: This is music composed on a grand canvas. Its opulent textures and rhapsodic melodies require exquisite interactions among pianist, conductor and orchestra. And the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, with conductor Robert Spano, joined Ohlsson in this deeply inspired collaboration.

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MANOFF: Garrick Ohlsson's recording has given me new interest in this very familiar concerto and I can't stop myself from repeating movements, even skipping around to various sections just to get another taste of their emotional impact.

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MANOFF: Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto is a heroic work, certainly, and Garrick Ohlsson is the piano hero who has brought us one of its finest performances.

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BLOCK: That's Tom Manoff. He reviewed Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto Number Three, performed by Garrick Ohlsson with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

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