A virtuoso if not a risk-taker
Pianist Ingrid Fliter is talked about as a promising newbie - even, sometimes, as a great new hope, as great pianists of middle European repertoire retire (Alfred Brendel) or make rarer appearances (Martha Argerich). Her Boston recital in Jordan Hall on Sunday gave the impression of a competition winner’s victory program, with touches of dazzling technique, competence everywhere, but little emotional risk-taking, and no deep affinities. What is she really? A classicist, a romantic virtuoso, a Chopinist? She is 36. She should decide.
Born in Buenos Aires and trained in Europe (at Argerich’s suggestion), she plays with strength, poise, and grace. Her career was given a huge boost when she became the first woman to win the 2006 Gilmore Prize, a hefty quadrennial grant given to a musician chosen, without competition, by other professionals. That year she also began performing with American orchestras in the easier concertos (early Beethoven, Chopin).
On Sunday, in her Boston debut with the
This was especially damaging to the Beethoven, the infrequently heard Sonata No. 18. There was dash and fire, but it needed a more pointed touch for its wit to come out. This sonata was followed by six Chopin waltzes. Fliter is already known for her Chopin. She was a silver medalist in the Warsaw Chopin Competition of 2000 (the year Yundi Li won first prize), and Chopin has figured heavily in her first CDs. She also performed two waltzes as encores. There was nothing to complain of, but something was always missing: an element of surprise in the rubato, a sense of improvising the music, a hint of perfume.
In Robert Schumann’s “Symphonic Etudes,’’ Op. 13, which took up the second half of the program, Fliter seemed totally in her element, with all the power for the strong chords, but a delicate touch for the descending notes in the lighter posthumous variations that she attached at the end. She is not a dreamer-poet, a philosopher, or a demon-driven neurotic; the final impression, rather, is of a healthy virtuoso who is eager to please.