Rob Gebelhoff

Pianist Ingrid Fliter plays Chopin with the MSO

This weekend's concert will be led by MSO Music Director Edo de Waart, featuring Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2. Ingrid Fliter speaks to TCD writer Rob Gebelhoff about the piece.

By - Nov 13th, 2013 10:54 am
Frédéric Chopin

Frédéric Chopin

The second movement of Frédéric Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor is a love story inspired by a woman Chopin passionately adored, but to whom he never spoke.

Argentine pianist Ingrid Fliter will bring this romanticist theme to life Friday at the Marcus Center, joining the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra as piano soloist for the second time in her career. “The concerto touches the stream of your being,” Fliter said. “It is a piece written from the heart and to the heart.”

The concerto will be conducted by MSO Music Director, Edo de Waart, and will be accompanied by Michael Ippolito’s Nocturne for Orchestra and Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 in D major.

Chopin composed the concerto in 1830 before reaching the age of 20. It was through this piece that he was able to demonstrate his astonishing maturity, expressing themes of love, dark disappointment, and encapsulating beauty — all in one composition. The piece has three movements, a common structure for instrumental concertos from that time.

Although it is titled his “second concerto,” it is merely his first completed concerto. His Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, despite being written after the second concerto, was published first.

There is a long-standing public belief that Chopin was not much of an orchestral composer, as the piano is the featured star in both his first two concertos. It is arguable, however, that the dominance of the piano is what makes Chopin’s work excellent. The orchestra is used only to softly support the piano when needed, and remains silent at times. For this reason, Chopin’s concertos are distinct from their romanticist orchestral counterparts by composers like Beethoven, Rossini, and Bellini.

Interestingly, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra was originally scheduled to play Chopin’s Concerto in E minor. Fliter, though, asked de Waart to change the selection because she thought the Concerto in F minor would give her the opportunity to work closer with the orchestra. “With the first concerto, although I love it, orchestras can get a bit detached from what the piano is doing,” Fliter explained. “The second concerto, however, is all about playing together.”

Pianist Ingrid Fliter

Pianist Ingrid Fliter

Regardless of the piece, Fliter says Chopin gives her the opportunity to play the piano in an entirely different way. “Chopin really is a visionary because he turned the piano into a singing instrument,” Fliter said. She explained that this goes against the nature of the piano, which was not structured to carry the notes in the way Chopin intended in the concerto.

“You have to believe that you can create a sound that can fly in the air,” Fliter said. “It’s very challenging, but very satisfying. If you become one with the instrument, the music comes from your mouth and not from your fingers.”

Fliter emphasized that she does not want the audience to come to the performance with preconceived notions about Chopin’s concerto. Instead, she would like the beauty of the music to embrace the audience as something completely new.

“Chopin music grows with you all your life,” Fliter said. “The more you grow, the more you discover the beauty of it.”

Concert Information

Concert time is 11:15 a.m. Friday, Nov. 15, and 8 p.m. Saturday, No. 16 at the Marcus Center’s Uihlein Hall. Tickets are $25-$82 at the MSO website, the MSO ticket line, 414-291-7605, and at the Marcus box office, 414-273-7206.

Hear the MSO musicians and local music experts engage in a personal discussion about the symphony an hour before the performance at Meet the Music in Uihlein Hall at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.

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