Ingrid Fliter & SCO - Schumann & Mendelssohn: Piano Concertos - Infodad

Insightful excellence of playing is not limited to orchestras: sometimes it is the combination of soloist and ensemble that shines new or additional light on well-known music. That is the case with a Linn Records release featuring pianist Ingrid Fliter and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra under Antonio Méndez. The repertoire here is scarcely new or surprising, but the small size of the orchestra – about three dozen players – gives the Schumann and Mendelssohn concertos a light, fleet feeling that fits the Mendelssohn perfectly and provides a different perspective on the Schumann from the one that it usually receives. Fliter’s technique is light-handed, too, and the absence of any sense of dramatically pounding the keys for emphasis is, again, just right for the Mendelssohn and somewhat unusual for the Schumann. Fliter’s performance of the Mendelssohn is so well-proportioned that it creates the hope that she will offer the composer’s Piano Concerto No. 2 at some point, hopefully with the same orchestra. Fliter and Méndez see the music exactly the same way – this is not always the case with soloists and conductors – and the result is a tightly knit performance that nevertheless feels spontaneous, its lightheartedness never lapsing into triviality but carrying listeners along with a buoyant exuberance that is altogether winning. The Schumann concerto, which tends to be more weighty in most performances, here has transparency to go with its heft: the small size of the orchestra helps the middle voices as well as the main themes come through clearly, and both Fliter and Méndez have a good sense of the “fantasy” nature of the concerto, which indeed began life as a piano fantasy that consisted entirely of what is now the first movement. The interesting thing about this Schumann performance is that there is no sense of the piano being in competition with the orchestra or straining to be heard above it, yet neither is there a sense that the orchestra is holding back to allow the piano to come through clearly. The orchestra’s small size is a reason for this, of course, but so is the restraint in accompaniment that Méndez shows throughout. Méndez also offers a very accomplished, lithe account of Mendelssohn’s The Fair Melusine overture: all the beauties of the music come through clearly, and the work flows with all the smoothness that fits with its literary theme and with Mendelssohn’s elegantly proportioned instrumentation. Even listeners who are quite familiar with all the works on this CD will find, again and again, that these performers highlight something new and interesting as they play these works not only with skill but also with understanding and a strong feeling for the emotions that the composers sought to elicit.

09 September 2019