Ohlsson’s Laborious Falla

Review by: David Hurwitz


Artistic Quality: 7

Sound Quality: 7

The four main items here are the Cuatro piezas españolas, the three movements from The Three-Cornered Hat, the suite from El amor brujo, and the Fantasia Baetica. The rest (Second Spanish Dance, Song of the Volga Boatman, and the Homage “For the Grave of Debussy”, is fluff, basically, and while the music poses no problems for Garrick Ohlsson generally, his approach is oddly flat and heavy-handed. The Danza de la molinera from “Hat,” for example, needs more snap to the rhythms, and those strumming guitar imitations require greater definition.

The Pantomima from El amor brujo creeps along at a droopy tempo that misses the lilt of its irregular rhythm (it’s notated in 7/8). On the plus side, Ohlsson captures the fire and thrust of the Ritual Fire Dance quite well, revealing that he’s up to the challenge when the mood hits him. The Fantasia Baetica has its moments too, and Ohlsson’s tempo works well–again it’s a question of insufficient articulation, making the performance sound more lethargic overall than it really is.

Part of the problem undoubtedly stems from the sonics–oddly dull in the treble. It’s strange coming from this generally excellent source. You find yourself wishing that Ohlsson would just take the music up an octave to give it some brightness and sparkle. I wanted to like this release a lot more than I was able to because the music is so attractive, but it’s just not that special.

Buy Now from Arkiv Music

Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Larrocha (Decca)

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