MIAMI INTERNATIONAL PIANO FESTIVAL
INGRID FLITER - BORIS GILTBURG - VALERIY SOKOLOV
(5-11, 12, 14-06)
By Lawrence Budmen
Argentinean born keyboard dynamo Ingrid Fliter was the undisputed star of the 9th annual Miami International Piano Festival Discovery Series. The 2006 winner of the prestigious Gilmore Award and Silver Medal Winner of the 2000 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw, Fliter lights up the stage with bedazzling technical wizardry and musicianship on the highest level.
Fliter capped an exciting weekend of concerts at Miami Beach’s Lincoln Theater with an astounding performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.5 in E-flat Major (Emperor) – the finale of a evening of concertos by the master from Bonn on May 14. In her early thirties with a combustible stage presence, Fliter possesses an awesome pianistic technique that is light years ahead of most power pounding competition winners. From her first riveting entrance, Fliter offered bracing Beethoven that mesmerized the listener with its sheer intensity excitement.
In the initial Allegro, Fliter’s dynamic sense of rhythmic impetus made the music sound new and alive. Every bar was freshly considered; the minutest details emerged with astonishing fire and originality. She could also spin the most incandescent lyrical line in the Andante con moto. Her limpid tone and beauty of utterance astutely captured the music’s cascading fountain of light and shade. The concluding Rondo: Allegro was a dazzling display of virtuosity. Beethoven’s dance-like thematic motif had incredible life and buoyancy. Fliter offered a masterful performance with that elusive star quality. This extraordinary artist combines musical intelligence with the kind of keyboard mastery of which legends are made.
In an evening of fine music making, Fliter took pride of place but she was far from the only attraction. The Israeli pianist Boris Giltburg, who made his American debut at the 2004 Miami International Piano Festival, returned to offer some fiery pianism. His wildly improvisatory performance of Beethoven’s Concerto No.3 in C Minor was in the Russian tradition. Giltburg’s brilliant, free wheeling cadenza in the first movement was spellbinding. He played the Largo twice as slowly as most pianists. Giltburg sailed into the Rondo finale at lightning speed with a vivid demonstration of impressive technical facility. This pianist is certainly individualistic.
As a tribute to Mother’s Day, the young Russian violinist Valeriy Sokolov essayed Beethoven’s Romance in F Major. Winner of the Grand Prize at the 2005 George Enescu International Competition, Sokolov is a new violinistic star. He played Beethoven’s lyrical outpouring with silky tone, elegantly sculpted phrasing, and gorgeous, long limbed lyrical line. Such finely spun tonal beauty is rare indeed. Handsome and youthful, Sokolov is a formidable talent. Move over, Joshua Bell!
After a heavy handed performance of the Coriolan Overture marked by erratic ensemble playing, conductor William Noll took command of the orchestra. Noll offered lovely accompaniment to Sokolov (with some elegant wind playing) and matched Fliter in sheer excitement and vigor in the Emperor Concerto. Here was an evening to remember with Fliter bringing sheer musical magic!
At her solo recital on May 12, Fliter offered an evening of powerhouse virtuosity. Like her patron saint Martha Argerich, Fliter is beyond technique. Her note perfect, fiercely musical playing is remarkable. Fliter’s kaleidoscopic version of Beethoven’s 32 Variations in C Minor was marked by a sweeping tonal palette of flowing, shimmering colors. This was keyboard magic! Her rapid, sizzling passagework in Haydn’s Sonata Hob XVI No.34 was pure bravura. Fliter’s incredible dexterity was on display in Beethoven’s Sonata, Op.31, No.3. Her witty, forceful view of the Allegretto vivace and super presto finale turned this early sonata into a flaming showpiece. Fliter’s Chopin was bold and strongly emphatic. Her tempestuous versions of the Polonaise in F-sharp Minor and the Scherzo, Op.54, No.4 in E Major riveted excitement. She brought grandly romantic impetuosity to the Ballade in F Major. Fliter essayed rapid fire Latin rhythms with suave power in a Ginastera encore. Glamorous and artistically focused, Fliter is a force of nature and an artist of the highest order.
Giltburg opened the Festival on May 11 with an exciting display of interpretive freedom. Bach’s Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue had stunning exhilaration. The clarity of Bach’s inner voicings was but one example of Giltburg’s technical mastery. He brought tremendous extremes of volume and dynamics to Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy. Giltburg’s subtle, imaginatively lyrical flights were often beguiling. With big boned virtuosity to burn, he sailed through Scriabin’s Sonata-Fantasy No.2 in G-sharp minor with marvelous freedom and inflected the Chopinesque filigree with rippling beauty. In Liszt’s huge Sonata in B Minor, Giltburg’s penchant for adventurous, unconventional phrasing took center stage. His was a fascinating traversal in the true Liszt mold – delicate, flaming, and exciting. As encores, Giltburg brought romantic languor to Rachmaninoff’s witty take on Fritz Kreisler’s Liebesfreud and jazzy power to Gershwin’s Rialto Rhythms.
For nearly a decade, Miami International Piano Festival founder and Artistic Director Giselle Brodsky has encouraged the careers of the most remarkably gifted young artists. The Festival has produced some of the most exciting concerts in many seasons. Brodsky has a remarkable ear for talent and patrician artistic taste. The 2006 Festival was a landmark event. Ingrid Fliter is a true jewel in this wonderful series’ artistic crown!