Ingrid Fliter - Scottish Chamber Orchestra - Chopin: Piano Concertos - MusicWeb International
With so many
first-rate recorded performances of varying vintages and in different
price-ranges did we need another recording? Emphatically yes, if it's as good
as this new Linn CD.
Ingrid Fliter has already made quite a reputation as an interpreter of Chopin's solo piano music for EMI. Now she turns to the youthful concertos and makes an auspicious debut with a different label. 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, even if the Romance of No.1 is taken noticeably faster than by Rubinstein on either of the RCA recordings that I've mentioned, though at almost exactly the same pace as by Argerich. The Larghetto of No.2, on the other hand, is rather slower than from Rubinstein without sounding drawn out.
Look at the adjectives and nouns that Michael Cookson uses in his review of Fliter's recording of the Waltzes and you'll find them all equally appropriate to various aspects of these concertos: glittering, feather-light and fleet-footed, playful, yearning and sorrow.
The recording is a good deal firmer and more credible, especially in the lower frequencies, than the RCA Rubinstein, even in its re-mastered form. I thought the balance between soloist and orchestra almost ideal, so I was surprised as I was closing this review to see a suggestion that the piano is balanced too far forward. Thinking that I had, perhaps, been unduly influenced by listening to the Rubinstein first, where the piano certainly is forward in RCA's house style of the 1960s, I listened again and still thought the balance credible. Certainly the soloist is the centre of attention but that's Chopin's fault, if fault there be.
I listened to the CD-quality 16-bit download from eclassical.com and thought it very good. At current rates of exchange their price of $13.16 is very competitive with Linn's £10 for 16-bit and you can come back for the mp3 for your personal player at no extra cost. If you are happy with mp3, Linn's price of £8 is marginally your better bet. Linn offer 24-bit and SACD, too, for audiophiles...