In the Great Hall at Queen’s Brazilian pianist Cristina Ortiz drew Festival’s celebration of Chopin to a close.
She is an able pianist of some pedigree and the full house audience were impressed by her temperament and her technique which, despite the occasional textural inaccuracies, generated moments of excitement and evident admiration.
A programme alternating Chopin’s ballades and scherzi seems on paper preferable to a plethora of mazurkas. The latter can provide subtleties galore on close study but the more flexible forms of the former have an emotional variety built in. In a live concert context, there is less chance of being distracted by similarity.
Ms Ortiz appeared to approach Chopin’s music on a heroic scale. She made much of the differentiation between the many layers of the writing, but idiosyncratically focussed the audience’s attention on this through overzealous accentuation of the obvious and dismissing the integral ornamentation in an almost cavalier fashion at times.
This was painting in primary colours only, ignoring the palette of more sensitive shadings.
Rather than interplay, there was stark contrast, made even more incomprehensible by her use of rubato which often distorted the underlying pulses and obscured the motive constancies.
As a result I found her interpretations unconvincing. But the rest of the audience was inspired to demand three encores, the second of which — a piece by Villa Lobos — made me wish that Ms Ortiz had given us a concert of South American music to which I felt she is more temperamentally attuned.