CD Reviews | CTD (Briefly Noted) | JFL (Dip Your Ears) | DVD Reviews


Welcome Back, Ingrid Fliter

available at Amazon
Chopin (Sonata No. 3 / Ballade No. 4 / Barcarolle), Ingrid Fliter

(released April 29, 2008)
EMI 5099 5 14899 2 2
Musicians are often conflicted about the helpful value and potentially destructive impact of competitions on their lives and careers. Jeremy Denk recently criticized Apollo for having inaugurated the tradition of music competitions, when he stacked the deck against the mortal Marsyas, then flayed his opponent alive, and nailed his skin to a tree (a subject of interest to artists both ancient and modern). The Argentinian pianist Ingrid Fliter may not have felt as much pain as Marsyas when she placed second to Yundi Li at the 2000 Chopin Competition in Warsaw. She may have been disappointed by the comparison of her career trajectory with that of Li, however. Tim Page even reported that Fliter was renting an apartment (in Milan) where she was not allowed to practice the piano.

Then, in 2006, Fliter won the Gilmore Artist Award, and her career was almost immediately revived. She began to make concerto appearances with orchestras in the U.S., and recently Michael reviewed her Beethoven first concerto with the National Symphony Orchestra in March (although we unfortunately had to miss both of her concerts last year at the National Gallery of Art and the National Museum of Women in the Arts). Last year, Fliter was also named a BBC New Generation Artist for a period of two years. She also has a shiny new contract with EMI, and this new release takes us, in a sense, back to Warsaw with a varied Chopin program.

Not surprisingly for someone who did so well in the Chopin Competition, this is excellent listening. Fliter's Barcarolle (F-sharp, op. 60) quickly became a favorite rendition of this difficult work. It evokes the sort of Venice Chopin was likely trying to evoke, the one in which moldering twilight buildings covered with slime are sinking into the lagoon. By contrast, the set of waltzes -- Grande Valse Brillante, op. 18, and the three op. 64 waltzes -- are brightly lit parlor pieces. Fliter's third sonata (B minor, op. 58) has heft and confidence in the first movement, alternating with a tender, detached second theme. The second theme flutters with lightness, and the third is suffused with melancholy. There are minor technical issues in the final movement, generally in the running sixteenth notes, where the leggiero touch leads to a few clipped or sticky notes. This is where competitions are so heartbreaking: that kind of glitch, more or less negligible in performance, can tip the jury one way or the other.

The second of the op. 59 mazurkas has a pleasing lilt, but the first one seems a little stuck in the mud, with too much rhythmic distortion for my taste. In the third one, Fliter has an understated way with the folk-like chromatic variations introduced in the harmony. The most impressive technical assurance comes in the final track, the fourth ballade (F minor, op. 52), where Fliter tosses off the Bellini-esque right-hand fioriture as bold flourishes rather than wilting, under-supported tracery. All in all, a striking first effort from this fine pianist.

Ingrid Fliter will play a solo recital on the next season at Shriver Hall (January 18, 2009, at 5:30 pm) in Baltimore. Unspecified Beethoven, Chopin, and Schumann are announced for the program.

No comments: