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Ingrid Fliter lures the Heart of Hong Kong

Hong Kong
Sheung Wan Civic Center Theatre
09/19/2007 -  
Joseph Haydn : Piano Sonata No.53 in E Minor, Hob. XVI:34
Ludwig van Beethoven : Piano Sonata No.18, Op.31 No.3 "The Hunt"
Franz Schubert : Impromptus Op.90 No.2 & No.3
Frederic Chopin : Fantaisie-Impromptu, Op.66 – Valses, Op.64 No.1 & No.2 – Grande Valse Brillante, Op.18 – Three Ecossaises Op.72 – Etude Op.10 No.4
Astor Piazzolla : Adios Nonino Tango
Alberto Ginastera : Danza del Gaucho Matrero

Ingrid Fliter (piano)

With the inauguration of the Premier Excellence of Hong Kong comes the debut solo recital of Argentinean pianist, Ingrid Fliter, better known amongst the music circle as the prestigious winner of the 2006 Gilmore Artist Award and Silver Medalist of the 2000 Chopin Piano Competition. Having just finished a recording session in the UK and on her way to Japan for a week of solo recitals and music education missions, Hong Kong is fortunate to be the host and welcomes Ms. Fliter with warm affection for a one-night-only recital at the Sheung Wan Civic Center Theatre. This concert would not have been made possible without accrediting the Premiere Performances of Hong Kong.

Premiere Performances of Hong Kong, also the PPHK, is a non-profit organization envisioned by Ms. Andrea Fessler, a graduate of the Harvard Law School. Inspired by the well-known Vancouver Recital Society established by Ms. Leila Getz, Ms. Fessler founded the PPHK with a similar vision to bring greater cultural diversity into Hong Kong, first and foremost by recruiting up-and-rising "hot-off-the-press" musicians like Ms. Ingrid Fliter from the international scene to enrich and to engage our music senses and artistic appreciation. Moreover, PPHK is striving to invite the young and the old, both the new and the keen music lovers from around the HK region to join as a community in support of cultural arts. Through a range of upcoming solo, vocal and chamber music recitals, the host of PPHK series will be excellent platforms (and a good excuse) for many to hear rising stars "before they get too expensive to engage" and to save one's pockets from the astronomical airplane ticket costs in order to meet some of these fine musicians like Ms. Fliter up close in person, as much of the audience have taken advantage at the post-concert cocktail reception.

Ms. Fliter opened the first half of her programme with two contrasting piano sonatas of the Classical Period: Haydn's Piano Sonata No.53 in E Minor Hob.XVI:34(1784), and nearly two decades apart, with Beethoven's Piano Sonata No.18 in E Flat Major Op.31 No.3 "The Hunt" (1802). Although the concert grand tonight was in absolute horrific condition, namely because of a set of weakened strings in the upper treble and a muffled bass board, Ms. Fliter articulated clarity to the best of her abilities although there were numerous occasions throughout the recital when the piano simply would not respond and project the sounds of her touch, distorting at times the train of emotions which the trained mind would anticipate. Nevertheless, to mimic as closely as possible to what a 18th century piano of Haydn's time would have sounded on a contemporary concert grand, Ms. Fliter used the damper pedal sparingly while making effective use on the una corda intermittently throughout the three movements in order to embellish the delicate and fine scale-like passages as sparkling comparisons. Though this is not a Sonata of particular long duration, Ms. Fliter brought out a spiky wit, filled with charm and cheerful moments that could be individualistically defined as Ms. Fliter¡¦s very own. Even if this sonata might seem musically less complex than its earlier counterparts, this is a Sonata that required sterling technique and musicality to bring out some of the hidden gem-like beauty. Ms. Fliter had a gift of knowing when and where to bring out these inner (hidden) voices as not to disturb the major melodic pulse of the piece. She next turned to Beethoven's Piano Sonata No.18 Op.31 No.3, which is remembered as the pivot to the "second era" of Beethoven's musical evolution. Here, Beethoven refined the Classical Sonata form by making the overall structure subservient to the individual movements. To illustrate her careful analysis of this work, Ms. Fliter introduced the four-note motif with a foreshadow sense of proclamation at the very start of the 1st Movement Allegro, and throughout this movement, one was able to appreciate how a pianist could transform into a painter by her interwoven brushes between dry and florid recitatives. The movement was characteristic by a brisk first theme, which was succeeded by a series of broken chords, staccati, all for a trill. Ms. Fliter effectively created a platform on stage with her audience cultivated by a dramatic dialogue. To do so, compliments should be given by her ease and full utility on arpeggios and brilliant scale-passages to create this atmosphere, although Ms. Fliter also fell short at times with a rush of tempo, jeopardizing her full capacity to articulate all notes equally audible. In the past, this Sonata has been known to excite a peculiar fascination amongst pianists, namely the older generations, as that of Wihelm Backhaus, Artur Rubinstein, and Clara Haskil, each with their own style-designee. Ms. Fliter championed no less in this regard. A scherzando affect dominated the piece, and by the time she reached the 3rd Movement Minuetto, it acted like a moment of tranquil reflection and contemplation. Ms. Fliter gave the 4th Movement Presto all the brilliant pearls demanded, perhaps as a refurbished reference to Beethoven's blossoming middle period, rife with harmonies intersected by beauty and calamity. All-in-all, despite the liberty in her choices with tempo changes, this was an interpretation that integrated the many dazzling inventions of Beethoven to create a "piano sound" that was truly Ms. Fliter's very own.

Perhaps the best part in tonight's recital came at the very beginning of the second half in tonight¡¦s post-intermission works featuring two of Schubert's Impromptus (No.2 in E Flat Major and No.3 in G Flat Major, Op.90). Ms. Fliter was at the absolute peak of her art in these two short gems, particularly with the G Flat Major Impromptu, and one could immediately pinpoint why. Not to mention an almost magical blend between her pianissimo and legato playing, but there was an inner vitality that manifested from her sparkling fingerwork when purity in sound was demanded. Pedaling was used only superficially, though she was able to generated the most lyricial and angelic voice. According to Ms. Fliter, the "way" to master Schubert's piano works originated from careful correlations with the art of (Schubert's) Lied. To this end, the Impromptus brought out an instinctive hallmark on Schubert's genius as a melodist, and Ms. Fliter was the painter who coaxed out the delicate tone which miraculously transcended even from this handicapped piano. This was simply sheer beauty at its very best.

Chopin was definitely one of the favorite composers of Ms. Fliter's. Not only will her debut EMI CD feature an exclusive collection on the piano works of Chopin (much of them were performed tonight in part), but with the subsequent pieces, Ms. Fliter has chosen an exquisite selection of short easy-listening Chopin pieces for the Hong Kong audience: Fantaisie-Impromptu, 3 Valses (Op.18, Op. 64 Nos. 1 & 2), 3 Ecossaises 2 and the technically challenging Etude No.4 in C Sharp Minor from the Op.10 collection. Overall, Ms. Flitter had a brittle, exciting touch which was never afraid to be robust. What was most captivating in her Chopin was the soft and almost shimmering bell-like effect that was most beautiful. The Fantaisie-Impromptu lapped at the keyboard like the Rialto at Venice under Ms Fliter's fingers, metaphorically, the effect of her playing created one of the loveliest musical depictions that reminisce streams of a waterfall. Next on the roster was a set of 3 Valses ("Grande Valse Brillante" Op.18; Op.64 No.1; "Minute Waltz" & Op.64 No.2). Though Ms. Fliter¡¦s interpretation of the A flat major Grand Waltz Brilliante (op. 18) could be slowed down a hair, it was unquestionably arousing, and her performances of the other two waltzes were equally fabulous. The Etude Op.10 No.4 was simply hair-rising. Simply put, what others only plod at was for Ms. Fliter light-hearted and almost a throwaway. The 3 Ecossaises replaced the original selection of Rachmaninoff's Etudes-Tableaux, and brought the Chopin marathon to a close with an enjoyable note. Ms. Fliter played immaculately, and when it appears on her debut CD, do not be surprised by what a fabulous interpretation this pianist is capable to offer.

How can any pianist on tour not highlight a piece or two that would be representative of her home-country? Though living currently in Italy, Ms. Fliter is unarguably Argentinean clearly identifiable by her passionate, warm and flamboyant personality. To this end, one may have heard notable recordings of Piazzolla's Adios Nonino Tango, the work that Piazzolla was best-remembered. In this piece, the audience came to terms with Ms. Fliter "the Improviser", as she added her own take of jazz-like embellishments and musical figurative to spice up the very exotic Spanish-flavour. One of the treble strings broke before the end of this piece, which was fortunate to have obstructed at this stage of the recital when only one piece was left in the final programme. This turned to be Ginastera¡¦s Danza del Gaucho Matrero from the third set of the Danzas Argentinas. To any untrained ear, the next ~7mins may have sounded much like a bushel of gratuitous dissonance and a bagful of voluminous explosives. This very characteristic came at the very last section of the piece, when pages were filled with brisk tempo, fortuitous rhythmic drive, fortissimo that almost equated to savagery. Energy was definitely not an entity that Ms. Fliter deprived even at this point; her coda was anything but subtle: fortissississimo (ffff) dynamics and a tremendous glissando brought the movement to its restful close.

Ms. Fliter was as delighted by the response of the audience tonight as much as the reverse. Her affection towards Chopin turned out to be also her answer to the audience's repetitive claps inviting her back on stage. Ms. Fliter performed two appropriate encores to bring the programme pages to their final close: Chopin's Nocturne in D Flat Major, Op.27 No.2 and the Last Movement of Chopin's Piano Sonata No.3 in B Minor Op.58. The music community is grateful to discover young artists like Ms. Ingrid Fliter, who continued to maintain high standards for the next generation of artists to follow. Here, tonight, we found out why. Inevitably, the path for excellence in future pianists will become increasingly a difficult one.

Patrick P.L. Lam



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