Classical pianist Garrick Ohlsson plays the Quick Center for the Arts at Fairfield University

Classical pianist Garrick Ohlsson plays the Quick Center for the Arts at Fairfield University

The Quick Center for the Arts at Fairfield University presents the recent Grammy-award-winning-pianist, Garrick Ohlsson on Saturday, March 8 at 8 p.m.

New York-native Garrick Ohlsson was nine years old, he told interviewer Michael Steinberg, when "I was blasted into orbit" by seeing the famed virtuoso Arthur Rubinstein at Carnegie Hall. "And that's when I said in my mind ... that's what I want to do."

With that kind of single-minded determination to inspire him, Ohlsson rocked the world of music in 1970 when he became the first American to win first prize in the International Chopin Competition held in Warsaw. His triumph ensured the discovery of a marvelous new talent and set the stage for him to establish himself worldwide as a musician of magisterial, interpretive and technical prowess.

Ohlsson triumphed again only a week ago at the 2008 Grammy Awards when he won a Grammy as Best Instrumental Soloist Performance for his recording of "Beethoven Sonatas, Vol. 3" on Bridge Records.

Although he is viewed as one of the world's leading exponents of Chopin, Ohlsson commands an enormous repertoire, which ranges over the entire piano literature.

Indeed, in February 2007 Ohlsson took the bold step of offering an all-Beethoven series at New York's Lincoln Center. In his New York Times review, Allan Kozinn described the two inevitable opposing forces that a pianist is caught between when choosing a Beethoven-only program: Pressure to make this familiar music new and to avoid interpretations that "run off the rails in an effort to say something new." According to Kozinn, Ohlsson's "solution was to draw together two very different sound worlds that listeners of different stripes associate with Beethoven... Having it both ways has rarely sounded more persuasive."

Ohlsson's March 8 program offers an opportunity to hear his eclectic repertoire in action, beginning with Serge Prokofiev's "Sonata No. 2 in D minor, Op. 14." The modernity the iconoclastic composer demonstrated in this piece, prompted the critic, Y. Engel to note that "the Sonata's powerful play of musical ideas, the energy of the creative will; it has a kind of angularity, harshness and coldness, but at the same time a genuine freshness."

Also included in the evening's fare are Frédéric Chopin's "Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58," Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Étude Tableau in E-flat minor, Op. 39, No. 5" and his "Prelude in E minor, Op. 32, No. 4." From his contemporary repertoire, Ohlsson chooses composer Justin Dello Joio's "Sonata for Piano." This piece was inspired by Aaron Copland's suggestion that Dello Joio try composing a work where he exerted total control over its formal structure. The composer describes the resulting work as having a theme that "pervades every aspect of the piece... All three movements use it in a different way."

In addition to his solo recitals, Ohlsson has performed with symphony orchestras throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia. He is an avid chamber musician and has collaborated with the Cleveland String Quartet, Emerson String Quartet, Tackás and Tokyo String Quartet, among other ensembles. His many recordings can be heard on the Arabesque, RCA Victor Red Seal, Angel, Bridge, BMG, Delos, Hänssler, Nonesuch, Telarc and Virgin Classics labels.

Tickets are $50, $45 and $40 and are available online at or by calling the Box Office at (203) 254-4010. The toll free number is 1-877-ARTS-396. For more information, visit the website at

Posted On: 02-08-2008 10:02 AM

Volume: 40 Number: 178