Monday, March 14, 2022

Wigmore Hall, London

Guest Reviewer, Ateş Orga

The Argentinian pianist Ingrid Fliter, second to Yundi in the 2000 International Chopin Competition, was a former BBC New Generation Artist. This well-attended lunchtime recital found her in something of a seesaw mood, given more to swirls and sudden climaxes than lining or architectural stability. Clipped in articulation, Haydn’s E-minor Sonata, Hob.XVI/34, was nervy in its posturing and rhetorical pauses, only the Adagio glimpsing anchorage. Domenico Scarlatti’s “confessional” C-sharp minor Sonata, Kk247 – in a programme justified pivotally through E and C-sharp – took on a Romanticised perspective, reflectively lit in place, on the mannered side elsewhere, ultimately at the expense of shape and continuum.

Its grave, weighted opening chords leading on without a break, Schumann’s hyper-Romantic Études symphoniques Opus 13 including the five posthumous Studies edited by Brahms (played, like the whole programme, from a tablet) ought to have worked. In an unsettling way it did, Florestan’s impetuous, irrational signature scrawled rather than calligraphed across the pages. But – Passion Writ Large, Executed Hard, structurally re-focussed into four separated ‘movements’ [i: Thema, I-II, Posth I, III-V; ii: Posth IIIIV, VI-VII; iii: VIII-X; iv: XI-XII, Posth IIV] – it was an interpretation soon raising more questions than answers. One can have too many gushing passions, accents and percussive detonations, an excess of dynamic and tempo swells, accelerations and ritardandos, too much over-pedalling. Episodically interesting voices and textures, particular fingerings, surfaced, but one wanted improved clarity, a better response from the instrument. Quicker notes never quite spoke, feathered pianissimos blurred, the upper register rarely sang, the more forced the attack the harsher Fliter’s touch and tone became – several wincing passages putting her judgement and taste under scrutiny (the start of VI for example). More thoughtful, expressive playing came in the slower Études and randomly interpolated posthumous ones, the cycle closing not in its usual brilliant ‘Marschner’ costume but, radically, with the second and fifth of the latter – earlier volcanic surges stilled in a precipitant hush of Orphean poetry.

Fliter’s encore [not broadcast on R3 – Colin], the D-flat Nocturne from Chopin’s Opus 27 pair, maintained the mood. Still the occasional unloving high notes but a warm, big heart in the bass and middle registers, a sense of bel canto projection and lonely beauty enveloping the hall.