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Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Piano Sonata No.3 in B minor Op.58 (1844) [31:05]
Three Mazurkas Op.59 Nos 1-3  (1845) [9:51]
Barcarolle in F sharp Op.60 [8:58]
Grande Valse brillante in E flat Op.18 (1832) [5:27]
Three Waltzes Op.64 Nos 1-3  [8:46]
Ballade No.4 in F minor Op.52 (1843) [11:05]
Ingrid Fliter (piano)
rec. Potton Hall, Suffolk, May and December 2007 
EMI CLASSICS 5148992 [75:32]
Experience Classicsonline

The much-praised Ingrid Fliter has constructed a canny all-Chopin recital for EMI. The B minor Sonata and F minor Ballade stand as Corinthian columns around which the Barcarolle, waltzes and mazurkas flit, glide and probe powerfully. How one responds to the performances is very much a matter of taste. I responded in a number of different ways.
 
The Sonata is powerfully conceived and reveals a technique that is watertight. The musical mind behind it takes care to delineate left hand patterns in the first movement. And there is a profuse sense of nobility and probity in the slow movement along with a motoric and vivacious control in the finale that serves notice as to the crispness and buoyancy of her rhythmic imperatives and articulation. Disappointing therefore, to me at least, to find the scherzo’s B section taken to such elastic lengths.
 
It’s that sense of excess that bedevils the Ballade where romantic ardour is taken really beyond proper limits. The rubati are excessive and so therefore is the capricious sense of line. The fiery delineation, the dramatic almost oracular dynamism of the writing, all these find a willing and splendid servant in Fliter but she proves a rather callous mistress when matters of architecture need to be invoked. There are no causes for complaint in the Grande valse brillante – the gondola rhythms are exceptionally well pointed and this is really convincing, heady Chopin playing even if not everyone will necessarily be convinced by Fliter’s very personal approach.
 
It’s this nagging splendid-worrying dichotomy that marked the whole recital. When she’s good she’s…well, enough said. The Waltzes Op.64 are very uneven indeed and seem to refute everything we might have intuited from her performance of the of the Op.18 Grande valse. The D flat, the Minute waltz, is flecked with unnatural rubati and limited dynamics. It starts, stops, resumes, breaks off, reconsiders, and picks up again. The C sharp minor leans too heavily and the final one of the three, the A flat, seems to confirm my suspicion that Fliter operates better, feels as yet more comfortable – and sounds more convincing – in longer spans. The sonata, perhaps surprisingly, for all the occasional distension is a convincingly better performance than any of the smaller pieces.
 
It’s this element of artifice that ultimately kept me at one remove from these traversals. Warmly recorded in Potton Hall, they demonstrate a considerable talent but one that is as yet too wayward.
 
Jonathan Woolf
 

 


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