Ingrid Fliter - Chopin (Live Review)

Unless you're a confirmed Chopin obsessive, all-Chopin piano recitals can be hard to enjoy. Those frustratingly short pieces, that storm and stress exploding out of nowhere, all that glittery right-hand swirling, as if the soul of a particularly show-off soprano had somehow invaded the strings and keys of the piano.

Last night's recital from 42 year-old Argentinian pianist Ingrid Fliter was especially vulnerable to those negative feelings. In the second half she played all 24 of Chopin's Preludes, some of which last less than a minute. The first half had nothing larger than the 11-minute Scherzo in E major. Yet the overall impression was of something weighty and significant. 

Over the last two decades Fliter has risen to the top rank of Chopin players, and this recital showed why. Part of her secret is simply a wondrous ability to float a melody over a supporting left hand with perfect grace, as she did in the opening piece, the well-known B major Mazurka. The swaying figures in the accompaniment seemed as eloquent as the melody itself, so tenderly did she weigh each note. 

Chopin's pieces often have an ambiguous moment where one mood gives way to something vastly different, such as the one between the desperately sad opening of the 41st Mazurka in C sharp minor and the carefree middle section.

Fliter managed this turn so eloquently that it became the most telling moment in the whole performance (and it left a shadow on the central ball-room waltz, which no longer seemed so innocent).

There were many moments like these, such as the unexpectedly long pause followed by a surge of tone at the end of the D flat major Nocturne. It made this intimate piece seem strangely mighty (too strange for some members of the audience, who got confused and applauded before the end). 

At the opening of the Fourth Scherzo, the space between the dancing shapes on top and the massive bass note that punctuates them - placed by Fliter with massive decisiveness - was even vaster the second time round. Fliter is alert to the way Chopin's pieces gather their maximum weight at the end, and she made sure we felt that sense of iron fatality too. 

Fliter's Chopin has a strong flavour which won't be to everyone's taste, and she can seem a mite over-controlled at times. But the intelligence and passion of her playing are beyond dispute.

The Telegraph
07 April 2016