Ingrid Fliter / Antonio Méndez / Scottish Chamber Orchestra

Schumann: Piano Concerto; Mendelssohn: Piano Concerto No. 1

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In the latter decades of the 19th century the program offered on this release might have been one of the most common of all for an evening of piano-and-orchestra music. Nowadays the Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25, of Mendelssohn is not the repertory giant it once was, but it's a beautiful fit with the expressive world of pianist Ingrid Fliter. Several factors combine to make this an unusually satisfying Romantic piano concerto offering, but among them is the high-contrast approach of Fliter herself, really capturing the listener's attention. And it's all done within the moderate parameters of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra under the young conductor Antonio Méndez, the same size as the orchestra that would have played these works in the composers' own time. The Schumann Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54, contains an episodic feel in Fliter's hands, all within the concerto's intricate form: the opening is strikingly urgent without being loud, the lyrical passages seem to bloom, and the finale broadens out nobly. The Mendelssohn is even more episodic, and here Fliter captures, as few others have, the formally free quality of the work, which inspired listeners of the time to propose elaborate programs for it. Mendelssohn himself called these programs "stupid," but they did capture something of what made the concerto fresh when Mendelssohn wrote it, and Fliter restores that freshness. Throw in close attention to small detail from all the performers and fine transparent sound from Linn's engineers, working at the RSNO Center's Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow, and you have a standout recording.

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