Monday, April 6, 2009
Ingrid Fliter gives uneven recital for Portland Piano International
When a pianist places a score in the piano (on the inner frame) as sort of a security blanket for an important piano recital, I become suspicious and begin to wonder what might be wrong. That was a recurring theme running loose in my noggin during Ingrid Fliter’s concert on Sunday afternoon (April 5) at the Newmark Theatre as part of the Portland Piano International recital series. Fliter, the 2006 winner of the Gilmore Artist Award (with its $600,000 in monies) has established herself as one of the world’s preeminent pianists, but on Sunday afternoon she delivered a concert that was subpar for the most part.
The entire affair got off to good start with a nuanced performance of Bach’s “Italian Concerto” in F Major (BWV 971). Yet in the faster passages Fliter often would tap her shoes on the floor. She did turn a page on her Bach score, but didn’t seem to refer to it all that much.
After the Bach came a series of Chopin waltzes, six in all: the Waltz in C-sharp minor (Op. 64. No. 2), the “Grande Valse Brilliante” in A-flat Major (Op. 34, No 1), the Waltz in F minor (Op. posth.), the Waltz in A minor (Op. posth.), and the Grande Valse Brillante in E-flat Major (Op. 18). Fliter played these pieces very smoothly with a lot of control and very little flair. None of them stood out all that much and in the third waltz (the one in F minor), she seemed to have a lapse and replay a phrase.
For the second half of the program, Filter performed Schumann’s “Symphonic Etudes” in C-sharp minor (Op. 13). She showed a lot more freedom of expression in the first half of this long set of etudes and variations. The pieces had drama, but I wasn’t convinced of the overall arc of her interpretation. And again, in the midst of this complex work, and despite having the score in the piano, Fliter suffered a memory lapse that caused her to replay a phrase.
The finale was exuberant and grand, and the audience responded with loud applause, but they didn't jump out of their seats. Fliter returned and gave two encores: a Schubert “Impromptu” and another Chopin waltz.
Overall, though, I wonder what may be bothering Fliter. I heard her a year ago with the Oregon Symphony, and she was superb (see my review here), but this recital seemed subpar.