Ingrid Fliter, the Argentine-born pianist, is becoming an international sensation, and for good reason. She boasts the imprimatur of winning the prestigious Gilmore Artist Award last year, and her Santa Barbara debut at the Lobero Theatre last week, as part of the cherished CAMA Masterseries, masterfully took on Haydn, Schubert, Beethoven, and Chopin. She seemed to make the room full of true believers.
Claims of the 34-year-old Fliter’s being a “young artist” are somewhat exaggerated, at least by classical music’s infamously tender-aged standards. Age, in fact, is mostly moot, though possibly an advantage in terms of the evident maturity in the pianist’s interpretive voice. If Fliter sounds like she’s been working hard and diving deep for years, she has-since starting her professional career at age 16.
Onstage, she has a genial presence, but also fierce concentration, which shows in the fruits of her labor and focus. For starters, Fliter illuminated the Sonata in E Minor of Josef Haydn. Neither too coolly classical in approach nor excessively modern, Fliter instead held an inspired middle ground of expressivity. Dynamic shadings and a flowing rhythm infused this music with a personal, sensitive vision.
In a way, her approach to Haydn was somewhat Schubertian in its sweep, making for an easy transition into Schubert’s Impromptu No. 2 in E-flat, from Opus 90, an elegant whirlwind of notes and feeling. Continuing in the same key, Beethoven’s Sonata in E-flat, Opus 31, No. 3, in her hands, veered toward a more conventional Beethoven spirit-embracing poise, heroics, and brooding-than the more cerebral Beethoven of Andr¡s Schiff, who played the Lobero last month.
The concert’s second half belonged to Chopin, clearly a Fliter specialty. The Nocturne in B Major, Opus 9, No. 3 was followed by the composer’s final sonata, No. 3 in B Minor, Opus 58-written in 1844, five years before his death at 39. Fliter treats Chopin with uncommon wisdom and understated bravura, evoking ebbing and flowing waves of energy. She gets Chopin’s innate poetry, but also the passages of bravado and exquisite melancholy. As an encore, Fliter paid a thrilling visit to the 20th century and her homeland with a dance by the late, great Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera.