Even the overture to the recital is a fascinating ritual. Alice Sara Ott pauses at the keyboard deep in thought and concentration, commanding absolute silence from the audience seated in the Hercules Hall. In this electrifying atmosphere of self-composure, she then proceeds to invoke those dark enigmatic spirits lingering deeply in Beethoven’s Waldstein Sonata. A luminous cascade of sound emerges from the palette of the young artist – sombre, pensive, bathed in broad tonal texture, scintillating, enhanced by delicate nuances of light and shade and a technique exceptional beyond all doubt. Not a single trace of cheap showmanship frequently encountered when whiz kids appear in public. This is musicianship at its finest evolving from a fully-fledged 18-year old! To apply such focus and intensity to this virtually stagnant yet pious Adagio-Introduzione in such an ambience of serenity certainly takes some doing. An atmosphere of calm before the storm breaks loose in the devastating Rondo that follows, a virtually untamed beast, pounding along with brute force, interlaced with melodious mellifluence and vibrating with apparently never-ending shades of tonal contrast. Those convinced that no further heights are capable of being attained in the performance of Liszt’s twelve “Études d’exécution transcendante” – universally regarded as a humanly impossible strong-man act – are mistaken! The very thought of taking on the entire cycle with its phenomenal muscular challenges is likely to be dismissed as pure folly. Ott does more than just master this veritable marvel of technique; she applies artistry to the whole. Daredevilry alone will not do. […] Ott lends a personal, almost overwhelming poetic charm to this splendid music, transporting her listeners into ecstatic delight.
Translation by Thomas Ball, Freilassing