By Caldwell Titcomb
Argentinian pianist Ingrid Fliter made her Boston debut with a Celebrity Series recital in Jordan Hall on November 1. Now 36, she started playing in public at the age of eleven. For this appearance she offered music by Beethoven, Chopin, and Schumann.
She began with an 1802 work early in Beethoven’s middle period: the Sonata in E-flat, Op. 31, No. 3. The piece went quite well, although the opening motto theme would have profited from a more leisurely pace. An unusual feature is that the work – looking forward and backward – has both a scherzo and a minuet prior to the presto finale, and that all the movements save the minuet are in sonata-form.
She next chose a half dozen of Chopin’s twenty or so waltzes written at various times from 1827 to 1848. She arranged them in a sensible order, beginning and ending with familiar A-flat pieces bracketing four less well-known ones. She tended to take these waltzes very fast – not because this suited the music but because she could. She dispatched all six in eighteen minutes. (Her recording of all the Chopin waltzes is due out this fall, but I shall not rush to acquire it.)
A drastic improvement came after intermission when she performed the marvelous Schumann “Symphonic Etudes,”Op. 13 (1834-36). This was masterly pianism. When Schumann published them he left out five variations that were issued posthumously and are sometimes reinstated by pianists – as Fliter did here. The initial theme is subjected to twelve variations that extend considerably the technical and coloristic qualities employed by earlier composers.
There were two faults in Fliter’s performance. First, most of the movements are in binary form (two sections, each repeated), but Fliter omitted quite a number of the specified repeats. Second, the order of the movements as printed in the program was exemplary. But Fliter proceeded to alter the order originally promised. Strangely, Schumann’s gloriously heroic and extended D-flat major finale was followed by several other variations – which yielded an anticlimax to the overall performance.
Whether one incorporates the five posthumous variations or not, the D-flat movement simply must be the last word. Still, Fliter’s playing of this composition was of the first order.
Fliter offered two Chopin encores: the Op.18 waltz in E-flat, and the so-called “Minute Waltz,” which, not surprisingly, went lickety-split.