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Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Ingrid Fliter (piano)
rec. 2017, Potton Hall, Suffolk, UK
LINN CKD565 [2 CDs: 107:07]

The Argentinian pianist Ingrid Fliter has established something of a reputation as a renowned Chopin player since her success in the 2000 Frédéric Chopin Competition in Warsaw. She has a number of highly acclaimed recordings under her belt and this is the third Chopin recording she’s made for the Linn label. I have to admit that this is the first time I’ve heard her playing. On this occasion she's chosen the complete Nocturnes, and rather than presenting them in the conventional fashion by opus number progression, she's opted instead for her own, individual order. It works very well and there's an underlying logic in her sequencing which adds an element of imaginative freshness, inventiveness and originality which I find compelling.

We kick off with the ever-popular Op. 27 No. 2 in D flat major, a good starting point. Fliter beautifully sculpts the cantabile line, with rubato sensitively kept in check, never allowing the music to degenerate into distasteful sentimentality. There's poise and elegance in the playing and the music is imbued with poetic insights. The same qualities I hear in Op. 62 No. 1, where the melody is allowed to really sing and, when richly ornamented with trills in the second half, never sounds forced.  Again in Op. 72, No. 1 the lyrical line naturally unfolds and the later embellishments are never, in any way, obtrusive.

The Nocturnes offer the listener an infinite variety and range of emotions, and Fliter seems always to probe the very essence of each piece and strike the right balance. Op. 9 No. 1, the first of the cycle, is dreamy and rendered with an exquisite pearl-like tone. In the volatile central section of Op. 27 no. 1, the music almost strikes terror. The enigmatic end of Op. 32, No 1 is successfully achieved, and the C Minor Nocturne, Op. 48 No 1 is agreeably paced, with care taken not to overinflate the final section.

Fliter’s technical accomplishments can be taken as read. For me, it’s her nuanced voicing, rarefied expressiveness, striking lucidity of textures and achievement of colour which distinguish these performances.

This cycle rivals the very best in the catalogue, including those by Rubinstein, Pires and Brigitte Engerer, just to mention three of my particular favorites and Potton Hall lives up to its reputation as an ideal recording venue. Fliter's talents, however, don't stop there. She's discovered that she has a gift for painting which, she says, has "unleashed a magical new world" for her. Her attractive artwork, entitled 'Moon' adorns the cover of the gatefold. The liner notes are written by the renowned musicologist Jim Samson, who has published widely on the music of Chopin.

Stephen Greenbank

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