Dream due show finesse

09.16.13
Asher Fisch
The West Australian

By David Cusworth

Two contenders for greatness took to the stage with WASO at the weekend, yet neither was in competition.

Conductor Asher Fisch’s diligent direction of the orchestra he will take charge of next year perfectly complemented pianist Ingrid Fliter’s subtle channelling of the young Chopin.

Had Fliter’s Argentine compatriots shown half her finesse in the rugby at Subiaco, the Wallabies’ recent regrettable run might have been extended.

Fisch opened the scoring with Weber’s Freischutz overture; a little-known prelude to an even less well-known opera, first fruits of a German century marked by the towering goal posts of Beethoven and Mahler.

WASO produced a calming, expansive sound, wistful strings and blissful horns, setting the tone for a delightful clarinet vignette, the whole summoning the spirits of a continent on the cusp of revolution.

Fisch, paradoxically an Israeli-born German repertoire specialist, could hardly have chosen a tighter, more disciplined statement of intent.

Thereafter, the Chopin belonged entirely to Fliter, whose unassuming presence seemed to hold the stripped-back accompanying orchestra in thrall, hands flowing across the keys like fresh springs over polished pebbles. Her dynamic control was captivating while her understated passion built energy from melodic variation, bursting into breakneck runs followed by commanding chords which galvanised the entire band. Conductor and soloist seemed to share a trick, each progressing calmly through the music to let the many strings (and bows and blows) at their fingertips do the work.

The second movement was more intimate, perhaps a glimpse of a world more bourgeois than Weber’s legendary landscape. Yet the booming, gloomy grandeur of thematic development drew another depth from Fliter, a touch of foreboding accentuated by pizzicato in the basses.

At the last, Fliter let the mask slip, with smiles and hugs for Fisch and the bouquet boy, Perth piano prodigy Shuan Hern Lee.

Multiple ovations drew a scintillating encore — Chopin’s lesser-known Waltz in A Minor — for which time stood, immeasurably, still.

Only WASO could follow that. Schumann’s 1st Symphony (back to Germany) offered another snapshot of European invention, more complex than Weber’s world and demanding more from its exponents. Fisch has clearly made his mark on WASO; both can only benefit in the season ahead.