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Pianist Garrick Ohlsson's performance with the San Diego Symphony featured Chopin’s "Andante spianato et grande polonaise brilliante," Opus 22, and "Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor," Opus 21. Ohlsson’s accurate playing was free of the self-conscious affectation virtuosi sometimes add and was so sincerely infused with a rollicking ecstasy that the audience sat entranced as in an "emotional surround" with Chopin himself.

Ohlsson's control over individual finger loudness defies explanation; it must be heard as a multilevel fabric of astonishing complexity that sacrifices nothing of clarity, transparency, or structural logic.

Keeping listeners focused on a now here, now there melody by playing each of its notes at a controlled volume, distinct from the notes swirling about it, he juggled four or five different levels of loudness simultaneously. Ohlsson hammered accents in the bass, punctuating a muted rolling thunder, and the right hand danced through the upper register with lacelike delicacy, while thumbs and index fingers kept that hide-and-seek melody singing lyrically in the middle registers.

This ebb and surge flowed seamlessly from bombastic strength to breathless weightlessness as the notes flew across the hall like drops of spray from water ballet.

  • Concert: Garrick Ohlsson
  • Show date: February 13
  • Venue: San Diego Symphony Orchestra
  • Seats: Mezzanine 1
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