Related Reviews
Berkshire Eagle
'From the opening flight of melody, Fliter took you to places you never expected to go in this well-worn work, and made you glad you went. Her way with melody was glistening; her freedom with phrase and rhythm was luxurious.'
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The Telegraph
4 Stars
'Finding perfect grace in Chopin...the intelligence and passion of her playing are beyond dispute.'
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Piano News
'Ein reicher Ton – niemals dominant oder überzogen, eher elegant und transparent – kennzeichnet ihr Spiel...Und so gestaltet sie bezaubernd lyrische momente in der Musik.'
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Classics Today
'Pianistically speaking, Ingrid Fliter's clean technique, pearly runs, and penchant for coaxing out inner voices are lovely to behold.'
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MusicWeb International
Recording of the Month: 'Fliter's disc is a winner all-round, however, and its freshness, clarity and beauty means that it's the one I'll be coming back to most readily when next I want to hear these works.'
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Fono Forum
5 Stars
'...ist einfach beglückend.'
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Pizzicato
4 Stars
'Fliter is an outstanding performer in both of Chopin’s Concertos, and her sonorous though also poetic playing is complemented by a very transparent [and] rhetoric orchestral sound.'
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The Guardian
'Fliter's excitingly grand, more "old-fashioned" playing is perfectly etched against alert orchestral accompaniments from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.'
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Classical Ear
5 Stars
'Fliter has the strength that allows her the utmost refinement...With the always excellent SCO, ex-EMI producer John Fraser in charge, and impeccable Linn sound in Edinburgh's Usher Hall, this should certainly be snapped up.'
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Classics Today (France)
4½ Stars
'Oui, il y a des digressions rêveuses dans le 1er volet du 2e Concerto, mais elles ne sont pas doucereuses. On en vient donc à remarquer davantage les qualités de Fliter, notamment son jeu perlé et le vrai contrôle du son.'
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Klara
4 Stars
'Maar toch zijn dit heel persoonlijke interpretaties geworden, waarin Ingrid Fliter het verschil maakt door haar heerlijk vrije pianospel (bij momenten lijkt ze de muziek wel terplekke te improviseren) en door de sprankelende virtuositeit en het jeugdige elan waarmee ze deze concerto’s aanpakt (dit zijn tenslotte jeugdwerken van een 19- en 20-jarige Chopin!).'
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ConcertoNet
'L’interprétation d’Ingrid Fliter extériorise davantage l’émotion...'
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Ming Pao Weekly
‘Fliter has a superb sense of line, dynamic and rich colour variations that come naturally…’
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BBC Radio 3 'CD Review'
'Disc of the Week': 'It’s wonderful when you realize Fliter achieves so much by emphasizing Chopin’s inwardness, the intimacy...'
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AllMusic
4½ Stars
'...this splendid recording reaffirms her affinity with this composer and promises more excellent performances for Linn.'
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MusicWeb International
'Fliter and Märkl make an excellent and responsive partnership...'
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Sinfini Music
5 Stars
'And her phrasing! That is a thing of immense subtlety and beauty, as is the liquid ease of the more virtuoso passages.'
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The Sunday Times
'Fliter's beautifully considered accounts of the two Chopin concertos...reveal a sensibility of rare emotional refinement and high Romantic instincts.'
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The Telegraph
5 Stars
‘Ingrid Fliter was born to play Chopin with power and passion and is completely at one with the music's demands of agility, vim and vigour.’
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The Scotsman
4 Stars
'The solo playing is exquisite, liquidly expressive in the slow movements, firm-toned but dance-like and deliciously pliable in the faster ones.'
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MusicWeb International
‘There’s plenty of bravura and power in the outer movements without any sense of showing off and there’s poetry in the slow movements…’
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The Big Issue
‘Argentinian pianist Ingrid Fliter brings a light touch, fresh spirit and beguiling sensitivity to her new recording of Chopin piano concertos…’
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My Classical Notes
'The Scottish Chamber Orchestra's beautifully delicate playing perfectly highlights Fliter's authoritative and expressive performance.'
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Gramophone
Choice: 'Fliter plays with such grace and heartfelt sincerity...'
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Classic FM
Album of the Weekend: 'It's a breathtaking performance...'
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BBC Music Magazine
4 Stars
'The outer movements of both Concertos have an authoritative confidence and are often coloured with beautifully judged dynamic shading, while the slow movements, especially of No. 2, are beautifully poised and poetic.’
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The Guardian
4 Stars
‘This is very much Chopin playing in the great tradition: rich-toned, generous though never profligate with its rubato, and invested with a vast range of keyboard colour.’
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SA-CD.net
4½ Stars
‘The scintillating performances of the outer movements of these two concertos exemplify this pianist's immaculate technique and excellent musicianship.’
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Classic FM
Album of the Week: ‘It’s a breathtaking performance.'
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The West Australian
'Her dynamic control was captivating'
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The Australian Telegraph
'Chopin at his most lyrical and poignant...'
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Ingrid Fliter - Scottish Chamber Orchestra - Chopin: Piano Concertos - International Record Review


01 May 2014
International Record Review
Patrick Rucker

The Chopin concertos are, in many respects, more freighted with tradition than similar works by, say, Mendelssohn or Liszt, or perhaps even Schumann. Historically they have been much recorded by nearly every Chopin player of repute. Generations of received wisdom complicate the soloist's search for fresh interpretative choices, as opposed to the obvious ones. Other factors conspire to challenge musicians seeking fresh paths. Chopin's long tuttis make strenuous demands on the string players, not unlike those famous instances in the finale of Schubert's ‘Great' C major Symphony or the opening of the Bruckner Te Deum. Long held notes and passages of repeated notes fatigue the players to the point of discomfort. The result[ing] physical stress makes it difficult to focus the sort of acute, attentive listening that Chopin requires to his orchestra in order to follow the soloist. Special demands are also made on the conductor, who must draw from his players an unusual type of enveloping yet transparent sound, while maintaining the utmost pliancy of ensemble.

Consequently, putting a strong personal stamp on these beautiful pieces is not an easy task. It has been accomplished, however, and with great daring, on this new SACD recording from Linn, by the Argentinian pianist Ingrid Fliter with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra under Jun Märkl. Pieces we all thought we knew inside out are here presented in a remarkably new light.

Märkl, whose star is deservedly on the rise, is a full partner in the enterprise. He is not only a hypersensitive accompanist par excellence but able to capture something of the heroic rebelliousness permeating the Zeitgeist of these works. Both these concertos, it will be remembered, were written within a year or so of the Rising of 1830, during a period of fulminating Polish resentment of the government of Tsar Nicholas I. These performances seem characteristically imbued with a militant air of Polish Hauteur.

The number of Scottish Chamber Orchestra players is limited to 40 (strings 8/6/4/4/2, double winds and trumpets, four horns, trombone and timpani). This is two fewer than comprised the historical-instrument Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, led by Frans Brüggen in the Warsaw Chopin Bicentennial Concert in February 2010 (available on Glossa DVD GVD921114), even though they were accompanying an 1849 Érard. (On this recording, Fliter uses a modern Steinway.) 

Smaller forces are key to the recordings success, both for balances and for the greater flexibility for ensemble. It is worth recalling that the arrangements of both concertos for piano quartet and piano quintet were published almost simultaneously when the full orchestral versions first appeared.

Märkl encourages an unusually rich use of string portamento; upper wind and brass are especially crisp and articulate. (I mention with some embarrassment that more than one of my colleagues writing elsewhere have waxed poetic over the horn solos when they almost certainly meant to praise the extended bassoon obbligatos of Peter Whelan, whose expressive playing is one of the CD's delights.) The horns are excellent as well, but credit is best restored where due.

Chopin's orchestrations derive from Mozart's concertos rather than from the heroic contests between soloist and orchestra of the Beethoven tradition. Here the orchestra fulfils it role of supportive amplification superbly. Most tellingly, Fliter's subtlest stretches and contractions of tempo are matched in perfect sympathy by Märkl and his players.

Filter's realization of Chopin's fioriture has been equalled by few other pianists and surpassed by none. Harmonic movement is the compass for her thorough understanding of Chopin's ineffable tempo rubato: natural, always expressive, yet never crossing the line into the maudlin or saccharine. Around this firm, Fliter casts a gossamer web of florid ornamentation that only heightens rhetorical eloquence. It is as though we hear Chopin's musical argument delivered with all the implacable directness of a great singing-actress. Both slow movements achieve a refinement of utterance better experienced than described.

Suffice it to say that, in the Op. 11 Romanze, the shimmering sensuous melody seems to emerge thread-like from within a blossom of right-hand arpeggiation. In the Op. 21 Larghetto, that unique musical moment characterized by Liszt as ‘the perfection of an ideal', Fliter halts time itself, as if parting a curtain to reveal the star-strewn night sky. Transitional cadenzas, in the slow movements as well as in the lively ones, are of a magical delicacy. Folk elements - the krakowiak in the Rondo of the E minor Concerto and the mazurka in the finale of the F minor - are vivid, lilting, natural. The only thing they miss is any trace of eccentricity or ostentation. The codas of both finales seem to jump for joy. I can't think of anyone, not Hoffmann, not Rubinstein, not Novaes - who pulls them off with greater élan. The admirable part of it all is that the justification for everything Fliter does, every nuance and detail, is right there in the score. Somehow she has managed to discern and internalize Chopin's message to the extent that what she imparts sounds unmistakably authentic and entirely new.


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Scottish Chamber OrchestraScottish Chamber Orchestra
Chopin: Piano ConcertosChopin: Piano Concertos