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Mozart: Concertos 13-14

Reviews CD (International Piano)
1 mai 2013

 « ...the ATMA release instead includes a perfectly judged set of Variations and a bright and breezy  Eine kleine to complete a most satisfying, beautifully recorded disc. »

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Mozart in a nutshell (BBC Music Magazine)
9 avril 2013


L'album du mois, selon le BBC Music Magazine.

« Concerto No. 13 is played with irresistible verve »

Jeremy Siepmann - BBC Music Magazine

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Janina Fialkowska • Mozart (SINFINI Music)
13 mars 2013


Within Mozart's glorious cycle of piano concertos there is a handful with optional wind parts, meaning that they can be played by what is in effect just a string quintet plus piano, as here. The C major Concerto, K415, dating from 1782, works particularly well in its minimalist livery. You can marvel anew at the scintillating interplay between soloist and strings, particularly in the introspective Andante. In the ebullient finale the strings are very much the supporting act, Janina Fialkowska revelling in the unfettered exuberance of the keyboard writing.

Fialkowska revels in the unfettered exuberance of the keyboard writing
Only two years separate this and the E flat major work, K449, but Mozart had come on in leaps and bounds in that time. Certainly, he's thinking on a more ambitious scale, emotionally speaking, and from the piano's first entry, at once dramatic and bold, you're thrown into a different world. It's one where bigger string forces and the original pairs of oboes and horns are arguably more vital in conveying the ambition and scope of the piece. In the melting slow movement Fialkowska sounds a little lonely with only five friends to play with, while in the fizzing brilliance of the finale she and her colleagues could have let their collective hair down a bit more.

Fialkowska clearly relishes the fingery playfulness of the set of variations on ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star' and the sense of mischief with which Mozart toys with this innocent little tune. She does some charming things in the slower variations too. You may be wondering if the world needs another Eine kleine Nachtmusik, but in a performance as intimate and reactive as this, it's a fine finale to a generally recommendable disc.

Harriet Smith - SINFINI Music

The Critic's Chair (Radio New Zealand)
10 mars 2013

 Fialkowska’s playing is notable above all for its crystalline clarity and purity of sound. This new Mozart disc is absolutely exquisite and I thoroughly recommend that you seek it out if you can...in short this is a disc to treasure, and I know I shall be returning to Fialkowska’s playing often to savour her elegantly refined approach to Mozart.

Dianne James - Radio New Zealand

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Recommended New Releases (Audiophilia)
5 mars 2013

« Beautifully played and finely recorded – as usual from ATMA – this is, in every respect, an incredibly appealing disc. There’s an earlier sister release of the 11th and 12th Concertos that is now at the top of my wishlist too.  »

AF- Audiophilia

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Mozart Concertos • Album of the Week (Classic fm)
4 mars 2013

Combining the intimacy of a string quintet with the power of an orchestral piece, these chamber versions of Mozart's piano concertos were re-scored by the composer so they would be performed in smaller settings, hopefully earning him some money in the process.

Classical business ventures aside, while the tunes are recognisable, the mood is completely different in these pared-down arrangements. Every musical line is clear cut and clean, forcing us to listen afresh to the refined conversation between the string instruments and the crisp piano lines.

While the chamber versions of Mozart's concertos are delicate and charming, the unexpected delight on the album comes in the form of the Ah vous dirai-je, maman variations. The well-known tune (otherwise known as Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star ) is given the Mozart treatment, gradually growing from a gentle lullaby to a bubbling piano piece. And even the string quartet version of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik , a piece so recognisable it can quickly become over-familiar, yields unexpected fruits - it's so intimate, you can even hear the bows moving on the strings, and the players moving and breathing together.

A must-listen for even the most avid of Mozart fans, who are bound to be surprised by the reinvention of these well-known pieces.

The Observer
3 mars 2013

 Widely praised for her interpretations of Chopin, Janina Fialkowska here returns to the chamber versions of Mozart piano concertos, continuing a series she began with Nos 11 and 12. Again we hear intimate Mozart, rescored by the composer for household use, in the hope that the Viennese enthusiasm for domestic string playing would win him new devotees and make him some money. Fialkowska's refined delicacy suits this arrangement admirably, forcing us to revisit the music afresh and listen again to the clean lines of accompaniment delineated so strikingly by string quartet and double bass. It's so arresting that it seems unnecessary to add yet another recording of the string serenade in G (Eine kleine Nachtmusik) as a make-weight.

Stephen Pritchard - The Observer

Financial Times (London)
22 février 2013

Mozart: Piano Concertos 13 and 14

Fialkowska’s treatment is crystalline and unsentimentalised, lending the music a spontaneous fluency that is invigorating !

At first hearing, what sets Fialkowska’s readings apart from others is their accompaniments. She opts for the string quartet Mozart himself sanctioned (augmented here by double-bass). It creates an intimacy, a sense of chamber-musical repartee, that is impossible with the standard orchestral accompaniment, and the Chamber Players of Canada duly oblige in a partnership of equals.
But listen further, and what really distinguishes the disc is Fialkowska’s crystalline, unsentimentalised treatment of Mozart’s piano writing, lending the music a spontaneous fluency that is invigorating. The programme is completed by similarly engaging performances of the 12 Variations in C major for piano solo (otherwise known as “Twinkle, twinkle, little star”) and Eine kleine Nachtmusik for strings.

Andrew Clarke - Financial Times


The Buffalo News
29 janvier 2013


Mozart, Concertos 13 and 14, Janina Fialkowska, piano, the Chamber Players of Canada (ATMA Classique). Here is something you do not hear every day: Mozart piano concertos arranged for a small chamber group. He oversaw the arrangements himself – because, in those copyright-free days, if he did not do it, someone else would. The public demanded these chamber scores. Before recordings, that was how you got to know music, by going to concerts and by playing it yourself. Right away, the music is interesting on an intellectual level. The sparser arrangement brings out the bones of the pieces, and you hear things you never noticed. As far as how the music strikes me, it’s a mixed bag. The 13th concerto sounds lovely stripped down. The 14th, though, is more famous – it’s considered the first of Mozart’s “Great Twelve” piano concertos – and because I know it so well, I missed the orchestra. Especially in the passionate slow movement, Mozart achieves effects with the orchestra you can’t get from a quintet. The generous disc also includes chamber versions of the “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,” which sounds great, and Mozart’s “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” Variations. Canadian pianist Fialkowska’s playing is pristine and delicate but can be fussy, and the chamber setting brings out the best in her. Three stars.

Mary Kunz Goldman-The Buffalo News

Janina Fialkowska• Mozart• (Musical Toronto)
29 janvier 2013

Chamber Players of Canada on the Chopin piano concertos a few years ago, I expected a lot from their just-released Mozart disc. This amazing album exceeds those expectations.

Mozart, Concertos 13 & 14 (ATMA Classique)

One of the many charms of Mozart’s music is its transparency. This is also the biggest challenge for any interpreter: push it, and the interpretation sounds forced or contrived; take it easy, and the result sounds limp or bland.

Janina Fialkowka has built her career on finding this elusive balance between power and lyricism — and I wonder if she has ever sounded finer than in this new album.

The image of the tightrope walker on the album cover is clearly no coincidence.

The pianist’s fingers produce a pearly sound that is clear and present, yet never strident or monotonous. Her pacing and phrasing are superb — the music has movement but it’s never rushed.

If someone were to ask what I think Mozart should sound like at a modern piano, I would have to say, here it is.

Fialkowska gets equally stellar backup from the Chamber Players of Canada, an occasional group of chamber musicians in this instance made up of Toronto Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Jonathan Crow, violinist Manuela Milani, violist Guylaine Lemaire, cellist (and the group’s leader) Julian Armour and double-bassist Murielle Bruneau.

Because this is a string quartet with an extra touch of grunt from the bass, these concertos become chamber music, further filling the music with light and air.

The arrangements of the two concerti — No. 13 in C Major, K415, and No. 14 in E-flat Major, K449, are Mozart’s own. As Armour mentions in his excellent booklet notes, Mozart tried to pre-empt a cottage industry that created transcriptions of popular music for home use, depriving the original composer of publication revenue.

Music piracy is clearly not a new problem.

But exceptional performances like these have always been rare, so grab an album and enjoy.

John Teraud - Musical Toronto

28 janvier 2013


Mozart Concertos for Piano, String Quartet, and Bass

In Mozart's day it was very common for piano concertos to be played in the home with a string quartet taking the place of the full orchestra, and indeed many concertos were published in both formats. The two concertos on this disc -- No. 13 in C, K415, and No. 14 in E-flat, K449 -- have wind instruments in their orchestral guise, but Mozart arranged them for publication with string quartet (sans winds) as well. The present recording uses those arrangements, but adds a double bass to strengthen the bass line, another commonly used practice. Neither of these concertos is often heard in concert for some reason, perhaps because there are so many Mozart piano concertos and certain others of them have become such favorites that they predominate in the concert hall. At any rate, what we have here are suave and satisfying performances of two reasonably uncommonly heard Mozart concertos played by the estimable Canadian pianist, Janine Fialkowska, and five musicians from various estimable musical organizations throughout Canada (and here calling themselves 'Chamber Players of Canada') -- Jonathan Crow and Manuela Milan, violin; Guylaine Lemaire, viola; Julian Armour, cello; and Murielle Bruneau, double bass. Filling out the disc are Fialkowska giving a delicious reading of Mozart's solo piano gem, Variations on 'Ah, vous dirai-je Maman', K265 (whose tune is better known to anglophones as 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star'), and the string quartet plus double bass playing a perky and sensitive performance of Mozart's evergreen 'Eine kleine Nachtmusik', K525.

All in all this is a very satisfying disc. The performances are exemplary and the recorded sound is marvelously lifelike. (It was recorded in Ottawa's Southminster United Church in February 2011.)

Recommended for those Mozarteans who would like to hear these piano concertos in their Hausmusik guise.

Scott Morrison- Amazon.com

MDR Figaro (Public Radio Leipzig)
28 janvier 2013

When you dare to put Mozart’s piano concertos on the market, you have to offer something special because of the already huge and wide ranging choice. One of the yardsticks by which to measure is certainly Christian Zacharias with his superb Mozart cycle. And now pianist Janina Fialkowska takes the risk – and what can one say: Touché! The Grande Dame from Canada offers an extremely delicate Mozart, with formidable pianism, calm and absolutely superior, without mannerisms or other bad habits. A Mozart one could only wish for, of the most noble simplicity. Clean, well thought-out, sensitive and perfectly balanced. And in addition to it that magnificent ensemble, the Chamber Players of Canada, who offer a sound that could perhaps be a little bit fuller, but basically live up to the highest standards. They make music with an outstanding discipline and nevertheless full of sensuality, also in the wonderful recording of the “Kleine Nachtmusik”. This Mozartian pleasure asks for more and I’m sure there will be more in this series, which one should treat oneself to, even if you already own the Zacharias recordings.

André Sittner-MDR Figaro (Public Radio Leipzig)