Fliter’s Chopin sparks Cleveland Orchestra’s Miami season finale
The young Argentine pianist Ingrid Fliter gave a flowing, sweeping performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 Friday night, as the Cleveland Orchestra entered the last weekend of its Miami season.
Fliter is a musical aristocrat. While some pianists are so intent on selling the music or themselves that they distort phrases and exaggerate dynamics, she played Chopin in a natural unhurried style that recalled Rubinstein. Her Chopin was neither banging nor precious. Her technique was fluent and assured, and she did nothing to draw attention to it or any difficulties in the music. In the second movement, the swift notes that ornament the melody were played with unusual grace and refinement. But she didn’t short the work’s drama, and the ripping passages of the last movement came off with fire and grandiose power.
The orchestra performed at the Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall, under the direction of the pianist and conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy. They opened with Alexander Glazunov’s Nocturne in F Major, an excerpt from his orchestration of Chopin piano works into a suite called Chopiana, now a popular work for ballet companies. It wasn’t particularly interesting on its own, however, coming off as vague and soft, without the percussive quality of the piano, but it was, at least, very short.
Having labored through not particularly interesting Glazunov and served as a pianist’s backup band, the Cleveland Orchestra was finally able, in the second half, to open up and show what it could do, in a suite from Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet.
Ashkenazy, who has recorded the work with the Royal Philharmonic, emphasized the surging, dramatic side of the suite, although his control of dynamics was exquisitely sensitive, always leaving the orchestra with reserves of power. The work can come off as a sort of orchestral display piece, with its virtuoso demands on strings and solo turns in winds and brass. But with the Cleveland Orchestra on stage, there was nothing wrong with appreciating some virtuosity, especially when the music was at this high a level.
Violins ripped through the extremely fast writing in The Fight section with a crisp brilliance. Oboe and flute solos were phrased with grace and emotional warmth. And in Juliet’s Death and Juliet’s Funeral, Ashkenazy showed a mastery of control, as he balanced strings and the orchestra’s weighty brass section in climaxes that were powerful without ever becoming raucous.
The program contained inserts announcing next year’s Miami program, and it is an ultra-conservative lineup even by the orchestra’s cautious Miami standards. Among the works will be the Schumann Piano Concerto with soloist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with Augustin Hadelich and the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 with Horacio Gutierrez.
Other major works are the Dvorak Symphony No. 7, Elgar’s Enigma Variations, Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben and the Haydn Symphony No. 96. The 20th century is represented by Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun and Ravel’s Bolero. Music director Franz Welser-Möst will lead only one of the three two-concert programs, with one being led by Giancarlo Guerrero, music director of the Nashville Symphony, and the other – which includes the Dvorak symphony - by the Czech conductor Jiří Bĕlohlávek, chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
The Cleveland Orchestra repeats the performance tonight at 8 p.m. at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts Knight Concert Hall. Call 305-949-6722 or go to www.arshtcenter.org.
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Sat Mar 27, 2010
at 1:53 pm