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Chopin Recital

The Philadelphia Inquirer
3 octobre 2010

Canadian pianist Janina Fialkowska['s] return to the concert platform after the excision of a cancerous arm tumor (and the experimental reconstruction surgery it required) is so gratifying as to make her seem like a brilliant newcomer. Any Chopin listener has no doubt puzzled over the Polonaise No. 1 in C-sharp minor, Op. 26, No. 1, which begins so heroically and then retreats into urbane salon mode. On Fialkowska's Atma Classics Chopin Recital, it's all of a piece. And I won't tell you how she does it. Find out on your own.
David Patrick Stearns - The Philadelphia Inquirer

Le Devoir
8 mai 2010

«un disque magistral, viscéral, qui touche profondément l’auditeur, avec un aplomb supérieur à tout ce dont on se souvenait d’elle.»
Christophe Huss - Le Devoir

London Financial Times
3 avril 2010

The Chopin 200th anniversary has already thrown up its share of CDs, but I wager it will produce nothing more enjoyable or recommendable than Fialkowska’s recital, which marks a welcome return to the frontline for the experienced Canadian-Polish pianist after an illness-related hiatus. Her comeback will be sealed next month by a recital and concerto performances in London, but it could have no more emphatic a calling card than this CD, an exquisitely balanced selection that captures Chopin in his many moods. It ranges from the sensitively explored introspection of the F minor Waltz Op posth., to a rapturous account of the fiercely demanding Scherzo No 2. Whether in the barnstorming A major Grande valse brillante, the soothing Barcarolle in F sharp or her exquisitely “felt” rendition of the Ballade No 3, Fialkowska displays impeccable stylistic antennae: she knows how to capture Chopin’s charm and spirit without sounding soft-centred or showy. This is a CD that rewards repeated listening.
Andrew Clark - Financial Times

1 avril 2010

"The magnitude of this oversight of a music business that seems to be completely dedicated to the teenage cult, is brought to light by Fialkowska’s latest CD-Chopin, which appears like a spectacular discovery. What convinces and at the same time deeply moves is the simple straightforwardness of these recordings.
She says she learned from Rubinstein “to trust the composers, to put their works first and not myself”. After her cancer surgery the artists said: “I feel that I now understand much more of what’s behind the music.” Who listens to Fialkowska’s recording, will find these two remarks reflected in her playing.
In addition to a selection of Mazurkas and Waltzes, Fialkowska also turns to the bigger forms like the 3rd Ballade, the Scherzo Op.20 or the Polonaise Op.26 No.1. It’s not only the noble drive with which she pulls off the “Grande valse brillante” Op.34 No.1 or the sharp-edged drama stirring up the introduction of the b minor Scherzo, and it is not only the fine melancholy she lures out of the Mazurka e minor Op.41 No.2: what is so fascinating about Fialkowska’s play is the naturalness, the seriousness and the integrity of her master plan and it is the emotional richness displayed with tremendous beauty of tone without any cheap showmanship.
This recording is without any doubt one of the most beautiful contributions to the Chopin anniversary.
«CD du Mois»
Prise de son:★★★★★
Frank Siebert - FonoForum
Cliquez ICI pour lire la critique originale en allemand.

29 mars 2010

"This is a Chopin lover's disc that will deliver something new even to those who have heard these pieces many times."
Performance ★★★★ 1/2
Sound ★★★★
James Manheim - AllMusic.com

International Piano Magazine
1 mars 2010

The selection includes a hndful of mazurkas and waltzes, the Preludes in F sharp minor and A flat major, the Thrd Ballade, First Scherzo and F sharp major Barcarolle. The Grande valse brillante in F major is dispached with a fearlessness that took me quite by surprise, with the softer passages showing no signs of the athletic strains imposed by the crazed ballroom tour that surrounds them. Similarly, the impassioned opening of the B minor Scherzo is breathtaking both in its precisely articulated virtuosity and in the ease with which Fialkowska retreats into the work's many brooding resting places.
One of the highlights is the B major Nocturne. A delicate flower, this, with middle-ground rythms so diffuse that most pianists, fancying it as an opportunity for rubatissimo, render the whole thing practically incomprehensible. But Fialkowska proves herself to be more than a cut above, producing an absolutely delightful reading that allows Chopin's stretched melody to appear as if floating on a passing breeze. The trilled section before the coda is judged to perfection: nothing fancy, just precisely the gentle blurring of line the composer intended.
The A flat major Ballade provides another example of Fialkowska's grown-up musicianship. The lightest of the four ballades, it is in some senses the hardest to play because there is less to commit to, so many of the episodes seeming to retreat from the possibility of full-blooded development. But here, as elsewhere, Fialkowska simply takes Chopin's notes on their own terms, inhabiting fully each transient area of exploration but never pushing the matter too far.
Guy Dammann - International Piano Magazine

American Record Guide
1 mars 2010

This is a generous, well-chosen, and well-ordered group of pieces that includes the Barcarolle, Ballade 3, Scherzo 1, Polonaise Op. 26:1, Nocturne Op. 62:1, 4 Waltzes, 2 Preludes, and 3 Mazurkas. I listened to this recording many times, in several different venues and came away on each occasion feeling enlightened by some of the most elegant Chopin playing I've heard in some time. Without a single nicknamed Chopin work (no Minute Waltz, Revolutionary Etude, Raindrop Prelude or Heroic Polonaise), Fialkowska has chosen works that display the full gamut of Chopin's genius. Her performances are without flaw, and there is so much that is so good here that I only need to touch on a few things to convince you that this recording should be a part of any music lover's collection.
There is a wonderful contrast between the powerful opening of the Polonaise and the almost languorous central episode. She gives the A-flat Waltz almost a teasing degree of panache thatis rarely heard. The brilliant Waltz in F is taken at a blazing pace, first played quite aggressively, then at the softest dynamic level, with no slacking off in the tempo. The big pieces (Barcarolle, Ballade and Scherzo) are notable for their seamless transitions from the brilliant to lyrical sections and back again.
Ms Fialkowska, a native of Canada, first came to my attention back in the 1970s after her prize-winning performances at the inaugural Arthur Rubinstein competition, when she recorded some impressive Liszt for RCA. Her most recent recording of the Transcendental Etudes (Opening Day 9322, 2001) earned a rave review in these pages. Shortly thereafter, in 2002, a cancerous tumor on her arm halted her career. Surgery to remove the tumor and and then a groundbreaking muscle-transfer procedure have brought this great artist once again before the public.
Harrington - American Record Guide

The WholeNote
1 février 2010

Janina Fialkowska is a Canadian pianistic stalwart – more amazing still because of her recovery from a 2002 cancer surgery that threatened her career. Her performance of the Chopin standards in this recording is remarkably strong. Her masculine keyboard energy is undiminished and her feminine subtleties as seductive as ever. This Yin and Yang are so beautifully balanced in her interpretations that one quickly forgets the performer while being drawn deeply into the swirling emotions that make Chopin’s music unique.
Stepping out of the way of the music is something Fialkowska does with clever and manipulative grace. One easily takes the bait offered by her technical perfection and is drawn toward the fiery melancholy of Chopin’s world.
Most unusual in these performances is the jarring pull-apart of the three-four rhythm in the C sharp minor Waltz (Op. 64 No.2) and the D Major Mazurka (Op. 33 No.2). The irregularity of the left hand “oom-pa-pa” is taken to its absolute limit without ever compromising the pulse of the music. This is a high risk interpretation but carried off convincingly because Fialkowska’s Polish roots run deep and true – and her musicianship is impeccable.
The audio balance of this recording leaves just the perfect amount of room space around the piano. And although the Steinway Fialkowska uses sounds a bit brighter and harder in the mid range than we generally hear from these instruments, this disc should definitely be a part of your Chopin collection.
Alex Baran - The WholeNote

La Scena Musicale Online: Lebrecht CDs of the week
16 décembre 2009

CD of the week!
Before Chopin Year floods us with tinklers in micro-skirts and Lang Lang duetting with Richard Clayderman, wrap your ears around the real thing. Janina Fialkowska, a Candadian, ran off with the first Artur Rubinstein competition in 1974 and won a devoted following for her warm and intimate tone, so unlike the bangers and crashers of the competition circuit. A tumour in her left arm forced a career break early in the present decade, but she’s back now and more characterful than ever.

Her technique is fearless. Fialkowska takes the Grande valse brillante in F major as if it were the Moonlight sonata opening and she flickers through the waltzes, mazurkas and polonaises with the dazzle of a disco dancer. I particularly like her colour differentiations within the hackneyed old Minute Waltz, which I never expected to listen to again with pleasure.

Best of all is the B major nocturne, which she plays conversationally without extremes of quietude and pointless rubato pauses. This is high-class Chopin playing, deeply felt and demonstrably authentic. Fialkowska writes the booklet notes herself, with much the same directness, explaining her choices and contrasts in a language accessible to all. The sound, from a studio in Quebec, is as good as it gets.
Normand Lebrecht - La Scena Musicale


The New Yorker
14 décembre 2009

A few weeks ago another Chopin album floated into the office: a “Chopin Recital” from the distinguished Canadian pianist Janina Fialkowska. (The label is ATMA Classique, a fine Canadian imprint; they look after their own.) While there are more dazzling pianists on the scene, Fialkowska plays Chopin with a warmth, poetry, and detail of phrasing that is disappointingly rare today; she places her gifts at the composer’s feet. She moves through a selection of waltzes, preludes, and mazurkas with aplomb, which is hardly surprising since she began her career as a protégée of Arthur Rubinstein.
Russell Platt - The New Yorker


13 décembre 2009

In a catalog dominated by all-Chopin releases that focus upon complete works within a particular genre (the Sonatas, the Etudes, the Impromptus, and so forth), there's always room for a thoughtfully programmed and well executed mixed recital, such as this 2008 offering from Janina Fialkowska.

It begins with a C-sharp minor Op. 26 No. 1 Polonaise that evokes her mentor Arthur Rubinstein's swagger while also mining the music's darker corners. Fialkowska's internalized rubato yields original, even daring effects in the A-flat Op. 34 No. 1 Waltz, notably the dangerously stretched-out transition into the D-flat major theme. The F major Op. 34 No. 3's "dog chasing its tail" passagework and capriciously-phrased middle section come alive with skittish bravura.

Little sustain pedal supports Fialkowska's nuanced finger legato in the C-sharp minor Waltz. She also is one of the few pianists on disc to play the Barcarolle's opening measures without treating the opening note as a pedal point. Throughout the work, Fialkowska's improvisatory ebb and flow never seems disjointed or mannered, although like-minded gestures in the A-flat Prelude convince less.

Fialkowska plays the F-sharp minor Prelude outstandingly well, with long, singing lines and ideally clarified textural strands. The Op. 62 No. 1 Nocturne is conceived on a large and serious scale by virtue of Fialkowska's wide dynamic range and rhetorical breadth, even when her trills effectively die down to hushed, intimate levels.
Jed Distler - ClassicsToday.com

The Toronto Star
10 novembre 2009

★★★ 1/2 (out of 4)
Montreal pianist Janina Fialkowska has taken 14 pieces by the quintessential Romantic, Frédéric Chopin, and laid them down as if for a piano recital, alternating moods and tempos along the way. We have the full range of his bonbons – Polonaises, Waltzes, Preludes, Mazurkas, a Barcarolle, a Ballade and a Scherzo – all played with a stylish confidence and underlying power. Even though these are all well-worn pieces, Fialkowska makes each sound fresh.
John Terauds - The Toronto Star