When the reviews started appearing of this record I thought do I need another coupling of these concertos. They have been very well served throughout recorded history - a few examples being Rubinstein's early 1960s couplings , Argerich's superb records with Dutoit and earlier with Abbado and Rostropovich , Perahia/Mehta , Zimerman ( both directing and with Giulini) , Vasary and Kulka and Semkow and that nonpareil of a recording of the E Minor with Pollini and Kletzki.
Ingrid Fliter's EMI disc of the Waltzes had to my ears marked her as a Chopin player of the first rank so I took the plunge and ordered this too. I found that record of the Waltzes to be enchanting and that adjective aptly describes this recording too . She is accompanied with enormous sensitivity by the SCO and Markl and the concertos sound newly minted . The E Minor is superb but the real triumph is the weaker , earlier concerto the F Minor named No 2 . This can sound wishy washy but in her hands it sounds like a masterpiece and the Larghetto is unmatched .
Probably a first choice now for anyone coming to the concertos as a pair for the first time and an essential purchase for lovers of Chopin .
I have been fortunate on a few occasions to see Ingrid Fliter live in Glasgow. One of those live performances was of her playing Chopin's Piano Concerto No.2, which was breathtaking. She has made her name playing Chopin, going back to 2003 when she released a disc of a live concert she did at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. More solo Chopin discs followed, including a brilliant recording of complete Chopin waltzes for EMI in 2009. But I and many of her fans have been waiting for her to record his two piano concertos. I am glad to say that this year (2014) she has recorded them for Linn Records and what superb performances she gives of these famous Piano Concertos! For me she really shines in the Second Concerto with great sensitivity in the Larghetto (2nd movement) and sparkling play in the final Allegro Vivace. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra under Jun Markl gives her a rich and quality backing and they must have thrived on playing with such a gifted musician. Along with Argerich, Pires and Ashkenazy she can be included as a top Chopin interpreter.
There are a lot of pianists out there who are technically brilliant but the truly great pianist has the gift of being able to reach inside the composer's mind and act as a conduit to deliver to our ears what they wish to express. Despite the CD booklet depicting an attractive woman, my mind can only visualise none other than Chopin himself sat before the piano. I have no idea about his personal life but it as if Ingrid Fliter is a nineteenth century lover who has time-travelled to show us what made the guy tick with her sublime performance.
I recently heard Ms Fliter in a live all Chopin programme and this prompted me to buy this disc. I have already an elderly but excellent LP fo these works played by Abbey Simon, marrred only by the severe cuts to the opening orchestral tuttis in each concerto's opening movements. On this disc the full texts are played, which happily restores the balance between orchestra and soloist. Ms Fliter's playing is stylish and faultless and, as has been commented elswhere, her rendering of the slow movement of the second concerto is indescribably beautiful
Technically speaking Flitter is an outstanding artist. I found her interpretation to be very original, performed with impeccable clarity. The high definition quality provided by the SACD recording does also bring this well know pieces into your "home stage" with all their grandeur.
This disc has been the recipient of various rave reviews in the musical and regular press as well as those submitted by numerous other collectors. This review can unhesitatingly be added to those without the need for detailed analysis.
The disc is a hybrid SACD/CD format and as such, has been compared in three ways for replay quality as follows:
The CD only option delivers clean sound of good quality but the SACD setting played through the same stereo system is better still with generally better definition and sense of reality. There can be no doubt though that the best result is experienced with the full surround sound when heard in full SACD where the sense of reality is palpable.
Ingrid Fliter first came to increasing media attention via a DVD recital at the 2006 Miami Piano Festival where her program of Haydn, Beethoven and Chopin proved to be little short of astounding. Her later CD of Chopin Waltzes on EMI rightly went straight to the highest level of acclaim in what can only be described as a hotly contested field. That was a remarkable achievement for a relative newcomer on the musical circuit and has set the scene for this new disc.
Her Chopin playing has, like all her playing, absolute technical security coupled with a searching and individually spontaneous element of expression. This is kept within stylistic and period bounds however. Beyond that, as this disc so clearly demonstrates, is a real sense of a dancelike touch so that the music has a real 'lift' as well as a most attractive sense of flow with dramatic edge as appropriate.
However many alternative recordings that collectors may have of these two works, it would seem to be only essential that this new recording from 2013 should be considered very seriously for inclusion. Newcomers to the music could easily be forgiven for thinking that they have bought the definitive recording to the point where others would seem to be unnecessary. That would be of course, as all seasoned collectors will recognise, to miss entirely the whole point of collecting. It is only by hearing more and more outstanding versions of anything that one is able to develop one's own awareness of music's potential.
This recording will certainly add to that understanding and awareness. It provides a pair of outstanding performances presented in superlative sound especially when heard in full SACD surround mode.