Pianist Garrick Ohlsson wows them at Seven Days

Garrick Ohlsson, NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Tallahassee Democrat

By Mark Hinson


That's the way classical pianist Norma Mastrogiacomo summed up fellow pianist Garrick Ohlsson's jaw-dropping performance of Beethoven's Piano ConcertNo. 4 in G major, Op. 58 on Monday night as part of the Seven Days of Opening Nights arts festival at Florida State University.

Ohlsson last visited Seven Days a decade ago, but this time he arrived with the Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra from Poland in tow. The orchestra, with conductor Jacek Kaspzyk, opened the evening with an overture by Karol Szymankowski that was both Mahler-esque and cinematic. The players were tight and precise.

Beethoven's piano concerto is a doozy — full of trills, fancy finger work and fireworks. Ohlsson made it look and sound as if the song had been sleeping and he merely awakened it with a few strokes of his hand.

"That was really something," opera composer, retired FSU professor and pianist Carlisle Floyd ("Of Mice and Men") said during intermission. "He has the right touch."

As an encore, Ohlsson, who got his start as the winner of the 1970 Chopin International Piano Competition, played a nocturne by the Polish composer.

In keeping with Valentine's Day, the Wroclaw Philharmonic also performed Antonin Dvorak's lush Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70.

The Seven Days festival rolls on today with jazz singer Jane Monheit, comedy legend Joan Rivers on Wednesday, the Suzanne Farrell Ballet troupe on Thursday and New Orleans music icon Allen Toussaint on Friday night. Seven Days wraps up on Feb. 26 with the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio. For more, visit www.sevendaysfestival.org.