“Few pianists on Earth have the desire, talent, and sheer fortitude to perform the Busoni, a titanic, grandly virtuosic work from 1904 spanning some 70 minutes and concluding with an ode for male chorus. Ohlsson, though, is in that elite group… Ohlsson’s virtually peerless keyboard muscle was another asset in Busoni. To each of the concerto’s many varied peaks, he brought a level of thunder few pianists can conjure, yielding high points that almost literally rocked the house.”
The New York Review of Books
“[…] Listening to Ohlsson’s playing, one is struck by its resemblance to the style attributed to Busoni himself, one of superlative technique tempered by emotional restraint and attention to large-scale structure.“
The Arts Desk
“It’s [Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto] often considered one of the greatest challenges for any virtuoso pianist, not least because it’s a 40-minute score in which the soloist is hardly ever silent. There are constant torrents, cascades and armfuls of notes, so that it’s simply a marathon before any question of interpretation or approach arises. But Ohlsson performed it with consummate skill, completely in control of all its demands and creating with it something of great musical beauty.”
The Washington Post
“By almost any measure, Ohlsson is one of the great American pianists. His lightning instincts and liquid touch added another dimension to an autumnal, almost bittersweet performance of Elgar’s 1919 Piano Quintet, one of his last works.”
“What a sound! Ohlsson is famous for that great sonority, though he never seems to be working very hard to produce it. There are no histrionics, no flailing or thumping or grand-standing, just an incredible technique with razor-sharp accuracy, producing a sound so lush it almost glistens.”
“What seems to be the true essence of Garrick Ohlsson’s artistry was most prominent in his performance […]: a total honesty. This honesty is what makes an Ohlsson an indestructible artist in the sense that illusions and impressions in his playing are non-existent and therefore cannot be torn down.”
“And watching him, you can tell that Ohlsson feels the music deep in his bones. He’s not just putting on a show. He seems to be channeling the composer, breathing life into music written hundreds of years ago and making it feel more relevant than the latest flash-in-the-pan pop song ever will. We’re truly lucky to have Ohlsson with us performing in his prime.”
BBC Music Magazine (Brahms Album Review)
“[A] captivatingly immersive take on these glorious pieces…Ohlsson’s compelling performance of the set…does indeed appear to ‘pour’ from his fingers as though as part of an incandescent flow, alternating the impassioned eloquence of the three capriccios and reflective intensity of the four intermezzos with a sensitivity of phrase, harmonic timing and textural voicing that is nostalgically beguiling…one of the finest Brahms recitals of recent years.”
Since his triumph as winner of the 1970 Chopin International Piano Competition, pianist Garrick Ohlsson has established himself worldwide as a musician of magisterial interpretive and technical prowess. Although long regarded as one of the world’s leading exponents of the music of Frédéric Chopin, Mr. Ohlsson commands an enormous repertoire, which ranges over the entire piano literature. A student of the late Claudio Arrau, Mr. Ohlsson has come to be noted for his masterly performances of the works of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, as well as the Romantic repertoire. To date he has at his command more than 80 concertos, ranging from Haydn and Mozart to works of the 21st century, many commissioned for him. In 2018/19 season he launched an ambitious project spread over multiple seasons exploring the complete solo piano works of Brahms in four programs to be heard in New York, San Francisco, Montreal, Los Angeles, London and a number of cities across North America.
A frequent guest with the orchestras in New Zealand and Australia, Mr. Ohlsson accomplished a seven city recital tour across Australia just prior to the closure of the concert world due to COVID-19. Since that time and as a faculty member of San Francisco Conservatory of Music he kept music alive for a number of organizations with live or recorded recital streams and since the re-opening of concert activity in summer 2021 has appeared with the Indianapolis, Atlanta, Dallas, Seattle, Toronto and Cleveland orchestras, in recital in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston; Ravinia and Tanglewood summer festivals and a tour in the US with colleague Kirill Gerstein. The 2022/23 season includes orchestras in Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, San Diego, Spain, Poland and Czech Republic.
An avid chamber musician, Mr. Ohlsson has collaborated with the Cleveland, Emerson, Tokyo and Takacs string quartets and will begin the 22/23 season with a US tour with Poland’s Apollon Musagete quartet. Together with violinist Jorja Fleezanis and cellist Michael Grebanier, he is a founding member of the San Francisco-based FOG Trio. Passionate about singing and singers, Mr. Ohlsson has appeared in recital with such legendary artists as Magda Olivero, Jessye Norman, and Ewa Podleś.
Mr. Ohlsson can be heard on the Arabesque, RCA Victor Red Seal, Angel, BMG, Delos, Hänssler, Nonesuch, Telarc, Hyperion and Virgin Classics labels. His ten-disc set of the complete Beethoven Sonatas, for Bridge Records, has garnered critical acclaim, including a GRAMMY® for Vol. 3. His recording of Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 3, with the Atlanta Symphony and Robert Spano, was released in 2011. In the fall of 2008 the English label Hyperion re-released his 16-disc set of the Complete Works of Chopin followed in 2010 by all the Brahms piano variations, “Goyescas” by Enrique Granados, and music of Charles Tomlinson Griffes. Most recently on that label are Scriabin’s Complete Poèmes, Smetana Czech Dances, and ètudes by Debussy, Bartok and Prokofiev. The latest CDs in his ongoing association with Bridge Records are the Complete Scriabin Sonatas, “Close Connections,” a recital of 20th-Century pieces, and two CDs of works by Liszt. In recognition of the Chopin bicentenary in 2010, Mr. Ohlsson was featured in a documentary “The Art of Chopin” co-produced by Polish, French, British and Chinese television stations. Most recently, both Brahms concerti and Tchaikovsky’s second piano concerto were released on live performance recordings with the Melbourne and Sydney Symphonies on their own recording labels, and Mr. Ohlsson was featured on Dvorak’s piano concerto in the Czech Philharmonic’s recordings of the composer’s complete symphonies & concertos, released July of 2014 on the Decca label.
A native of White Plains, N.Y., Garrick Ohlsson began his piano studies at the age of 8, at the Westchester Conservatory of Music; at 13 he entered The Juilliard School, in New York City. His musical development has been influenced in completely different ways by a succession of distinguished teachers, most notably Claudio Arrau, Olga Barabini, Tom Lishman, Sascha Gorodnitzki, Rosina Lhévinne and Irma Wolpe. Although he won First Prizes at the 1966 Busoni Competition in Italy and the 1968 Montréal Piano Competition, it was his 1970 triumph at the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw, where he won the Gold Medal (and remains the single American to have done so), that brought him worldwide recognition as one of the finest pianists of his generation. Since then he has made nearly a dozen tours of Poland, where he retains immense personal popularity. Mr. Ohlsson was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize in 1994 and received the 1998 University Musical Society Distinguished Artist Award in Ann Arbor, MI. He is the 2014 recipient of the Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano Performance from the Northwestern University Bienen School of Music, and in August 2018 the Polish Deputy Culture Minister awarded him with the Gloria Artis Gold Medal for cultural merit. He is a Steinway Artist and makes his home in San Francisco.