Ingrid Fliter | Symphony Center | Classical | Chicago Reader

Ingrid Fliter Soundboard Recommended Critics' Picks

When: Sun., June 13, 3 p.m. 2010

A poetic pianist who's long specialized in Chopin—last year she released a CD of his complete waltzes on EMI—Ingrid Fliter is also the first woman to win the prestigious Gilmore Artist Award. She earned that distinction in 2006, and since then her career has continued to flourish; today she makes her Orchestra Hall debut as part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's monthlong Beethoven Festival. The program includes Beethoven's Sonata No. 18 in E-Flat Major, which Fliter recorded in 2005 for the VAI Audio label; her performance is hearty and exuberant, tempered in the third movement's minuet with the appropriate restraint. The two other works on the program, both by composers I haven't heard Fliter play, make use of the piano's ability to suggest an orchestra's full range of textures, pitches, and dynamics: Schumann's Symphonic Etudes and Bach's Italian Concerto. The Bach is based on the concerto grosso form, where orchestral passages are contrasted with sections for a soloist or chamber-size groups; on solo piano this translates to a big, full chordal sound with reprieves of more intimate music. Its brisk, jubilant outer movements contrast with the pathos of the second, whose lavishly ornamented melody is accompanied by a somber bass-note ostinato and a series of legato chords. The Schumann's 12 studies—variations on the opening theme—range widely in style and difficulty, adding up to a magnificent tour de force, from the profound mournfulness of its opening to the majestic bravura of its finale. Its harmonies are exquisite, and Schumann makes beautiful use of counterpoint and inner voicing—that is, melodic content between the primary melody and the bass part. Particularly striking are the eighth etude, with its sweeping lines and overlapping canonlike structure, and the 11th, with its smoldering accompaniment and haunting two-voice melody in the right hand. Later this week Bernard Haitink will conclude his four-year tenure as principal conductor of the CSO with concerts of three of Beethoven's symphonies: the First and Seventh on June 15 and 16, the Ninth on June 18 through 20. —Barbara Yaross

Price: $16-$74

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