Stravinsky, Rite of Spring (and other music for two pianos), A. S. Ott, F. Tristano
(released on September 9, 2014)
DG 4793541 | 61'42"
This is doubly a shame because it detracts from the only thing that should really matter, which is that both of the artists featured are talented musicians. I missed the chance to hear Ott, when she played Liszt's second piano concerto with the NSO last year, but the Ionarts review of one of her Munich appearances was not encouraging. Her recordings on the other hand, especially of the Chopin waltzes, have been promising. Of course, her recordings are dutifully flogged by the flacks at Sinfini Music, which is controlled by Deutsche Grammophon: one particularly facetious post, author unspecified, is titled "Everyone's Talking about Alice Sara Ott." Well, everyone at her record label is, at least.
I first heard Ott's partner in this recording when he was still using his last name, Francesco Tristano Schlimé, and he played an intriguing recital in 2008 at the French Embassy. Their disc together, in spite of its title, Scandale, is a fairly mild affair, centered on a somewhat slow and dull two-piano performance of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. (Listen to Fazil Say's recording -- with Fazil Say -- to hear what is missing.) While their version of Ravel's La valse quickens one's pulse more, Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade also offers little of note. The opening work, Tristano's own A soft shell groove, features a few bars where the players are heard stomping their feet or something. My opinion of his compositional style has not changed since that 2008 recital, though, when I wrote that it was "repetitive, if with appealing drive, and short on ideas able to sustain interest for long."