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Les sons et les parfums...

The WholeNote
31 octobre 2019

Janina Fialkowska’s latest offering is absolutely enchanting, a CD of “pure nostalgia” for the acclaimed Canadian pianist, as she states in her eloquent liner notes for Les sons et les parfums (the sounds and the fragrances).

Fialkowska transports us to the Paris of the 1950s and 1960s, when, as a youth, she visited the French capital; a time when Les Six members Francis Poulenc and Germaine Tailleferre were dominant forces on the French music scene. And, as Fialkowska tells us, a time when most of the older musicians with whom she came in contact during those visits, knew not only those noted composers, but also Ravel, Debussy and Fauré. One further fun fact: her piano teacher in Paris in the mid-60s, Yvonne Lefébure, actually worked on the two Ravel pieces featured on the CD with Ravel himself! Can anyone imagine a headier environment for one’s musical studies?

Fialkowska’s “love letter to Paris” includes works by all of the above-mentioned composers, as well as Emmanuel Chabrier. From Tailleferre’s charming and shimmery Impromptu, Fauré’s sensuously evocative Nocturne in E-flat Major Op.36, and Poulenc’s sparkling Intermezzo in A-flat Major FP118 with its sense of yearning, to Debussy’s beloved and beyond-beautiful Clair de Lune and the stunning, virtuosic and impressionistic pleasures of Ravel’s Jeux d’eau and Sonatine, Fialkowska indeed captures les sons et les parfums of a bygone Paris. It is there in the characteristic nuance, warmth, commanding musicianship, delight and dignity of her performance, which is nothing short of ravishing.

The WholeNote - Sharna Searle

MusicWeb International
22 octobre 2019

This CD is a ‘Box of Delights.’ Each work played here is a miniature masterpiece that explores the genius of French pianism. Not all the works are well-known: one at least has become unbelievably popular, but avoids becoming hackneyed, by the sheer poetry of the music and the magical performance given by Janina Fialkowska.

The company’s advertising blurb for this new disc explains that is ‘a personal anthology of 20th century French music… [and] this affectionate musical memoir evokes a vibrant portrait of Paris during Fialkowska’s youth, when “Poulenc and Tailleferre were still very much alive, and the souls of Ravel, Debussy, and Fauré were still omnipresent.” In this ambition it succeeds admirably.

Music Web International
Critique complète: ICI
 

Gramophone
21 octobre 2019

Not since her 1998 album ‘La Jongleuse’ (CBC) have we had the pleasure of hearing Janina Fialkowska in a mixed-repertoire recording. At first, her new ATMA release of French music, ‘Les sons et les parfums …’, might seem something of a departure for an artist steeped in Liszt, Schubert, Mozart and Polish composers from Chopin through Lutosawski and Panufnik. That is until we recall that Fialkowska’s teachers in Montreal, her mother and Yvonne Hubert, and Yvonne Lefébure in Paris were all pupils of Cortot.

Germaine Tailleferre’s 1909 Impromptu opens the programme on just the right note of gracious welcome. In an unusually shapely E flat Nocturne, Op 36, Fialkowska is alive to Fauré’s subtlest indications. The extended middle section maintains a true tranquillo, so that when at last we reach its fortissimo appassionato peak, it is as though we survey the surrounding terrain with awe. The insouciant bonhomie of Poulenc’s Intermezzo provides apt contrast to the highly nuanced Fauré and the sultry languor of Chabrier’s Habanera.

As evocative and delicately coloured as are these four pieces, each creating its own distinct microcosm of sensibility, actually they serve as teasers for the main event: four pieces of Debussy and two of Ravel, played with such sympathy, understanding and stylistic discernment that the personalities of the two composers have never seemed more vividly delineated. In the two pieces from Images, ‘Poissons d’or’ and ‘Reflets dans l’eau’, Fialkowska brings to bear an extraordinary variety of touch, producing sounds that seem tailored to their respective pieces. ‘Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir’, from the first book of Préludes, is scintillatingly atmospheric.

Ravel’s Jeux d’eau has a pliant rhythmic spine that lends cohesion to the kaleidoscope of colours Fialkowska unleashes. The Sonatine (DG, 8/75).

This programme, selected with such care and affection, is imbued with the character, style and intelligence which are the hallmarks of Fialkowska’s playing. The piece I haven’t mentioned is so overexposed that it has become almost a meaningless cliché. ‘Claire de lune’ is lifted from the context of its suite and presented here as a stand-alone. The highest accolade I can think of for Fialkowska’s music-making is that her conception of Debussy’s shimmering moonlight is so strikingly original, yet stylistically aware and profoundly felt, that it’s. There’s simply no one quite like her.

Patrick Rucker - Gramophone

ICI Musique
27 septembre 2019

La pianiste canadienne Janina Fialkowska nous invite à faire une plongée envoûtante dans Les sons et les parfums (c’est le titre de l’album) de la musique française pour piano du début du 20e siècle. Debussy, Ravel, Fauré, Poulenc, Chabrier et Tailleferre sont au programme, l’un des très séduisants que nous ait offert la prolifique interprète.

Que c’est beau! Cette musique invite à se laisser séduire, à se faire délicatement soulever de terre pour planer et dériver paisiblement dans une atmosphère impalpable, mais pénétrante de douceur et de poésie.

Le répertoire choisi en est un d’évidences en matière de musique française « impressionniste » pour piano. La Sonatine et les Jeux d’eau de Ravel, des perles incontournables de Debussy (Clair de lune, Reflets dans l’eau), Nocturne no 4 de Fauré, Impromptu de Germaine Tailleferre, et j’en passe.
Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir, de Debussy, donne en partie son titre à l’album. Décision inspirante, car comment résister à ce genre d’évocation attrayante, et surtout, parfaitement au diapason de l’atmosphère qui s’en dégage?

Janina Fialkowska, qui est née à Montréal, a étudié avec Alfred Cortot et Yvonne Lefébure en plus d’avoir été récipiendaire du premier prix du Concours des jeunes artistes de Radio-Canada en 1969, est l’une des plus grandes interprètes canadiennes en activité. 

Son jeu était déjà perlé, délicat, subtil et limpide comme de l’eau de source, en particulier dans la musique de Chopin, qu’elle joue tellement bien!

Mais dans cette musique, qu’on pourrait qualifier de « post-Chopin », elle semble encore plus révélatrice et plus incarnée.

Plongez sans aucune hésitation et, surtout, écoutez et respirez profondément après avoir pénétré dans ce monde fabuleux, afin de ne rien manquer de toutes les infinitésimales nuances de beauté qui s’offrent à vous.
Frédéric Cardin - ICI Musique

 

Barczablog
15 septembre 2019

Janina Fialkowska has made a delightful new recording of French piano music titled “Les sons et les parfums…”

You might know that phrase from Baudelaire’s Fleurs du mal, in a wonderfully evocative poem “Harmonie du soir”, where music is as fundamental to the evening as a sunset or the air we breathe. Recalling Walter Pater’s famous saying that “all art aspires to the condition of music”, this poem is practically a sermon, both an invitation & an exhortation. Of course it’s an uncommon title for an album, perhaps an indication that this is a change of direction for Fialkowska, who I know mostly as an interpreter of Chopin, Liszt, and eastern Europeans with some ventures into German rep.

But I couldn’t help noticing how the opening cut sounded like something Chopin would have written, an easy-going Impromptu by Tailleferre that put me in mind of Chopin’s A-flat Impromptu, with its flowing lyricism. Did Fialkowska mean to open as though making a segue from Chopin into the French rep? Or maybe it’s all in my mind. But of course Chopin himself is a perfect bridge, an exile from Poland who was after all half French. Tailleferre’s easy & melodic textures open the doorway in the gentlest way for what’s to come.

But the liner notes suggest that this is if anything a sentimental journey for the pianist, familiar rep from the past that she has played many times in the past. Perhaps it’s who she has always been even if the French pieces can’t be found in her discography.

Better late than never..!
It’s a fascinating and well-conceived survey that brings us into the 20th century from the final decades of the 19th.
 Impromptu by Germaine Tailleferre
 Nocturne #4 by Gabriel Fauré
 Intermezzo by Francis Poulenc
 Habanera by Emmanuel Chabrier
 Poissons d’or by Claude Debussy
 Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir by Claude Debussy
 Reflets dans l’eau by Claude Debussy
 Clair de lune by Claude Debussy
 Jeux d’eau by Maurice Ravel
 Sonatine by Maurice Ravel
If these works are not well-known to you, the album will persuade you of their importance, very easy to listen to. There’s variety even though they hang together like a well-curated exhibit of art by several painters.

Fialkowska’s sound is very clear, mostly sparing in the use of the pedal, without any noticeable blur even when many notes are being sounded, as transparent & sparkling as a clean aquarium full of koi. For the most part this sounds very relaxed, without the kind of drama one associates with virtuoso display. We’re hearing a pianist who is so self-assured that she gets inside the music. The water pieces by Ravel & Debussy have lots of atmospheric effects, decisively coloured and yet ultimately very calm & tranquil. This is pianism of the highest order without struggle or conflict.

I will resist the temptation to use the “I” word that is so often used when speaking of Ravel & Debussy, a descriptor imported from the realm of painting. I don’t use the word because I believe it’s misapplied when speaking of Debussy, and likely as well with Ravel. These evocative compositions conjure visual images of water & fish & moonlight in Fialkowska’s interpretations. If you find it helpful to think of the painterly qualities of music in this period, especially if it reminds you of the colours & effects found in paintings by Renoir or Monet, then by all means, seize the association. However you choose to understand the music, you’ll hear confident and accurate playing inviting you to an encounter of warmth and tenderness.

Leslie Barcza - barczablog
 

La Scena musicale
6 septembre 2019

***** (5 stars)
Montreal-born and internationally celebrated pianist Janina Fialkowska has recorded 13 CDs for ATMA Classique but none better than this one. This carefully selected survey of French piano music ranges from Fauré’s Nocturne Op. 36 No. 4 in E flat major to Ravel’s Jeux d’eau and Sonatine. Fialkowska plays everything with a sure sense of style.

The first four pieces, by Tailleferre, Fauré, Poulenc and Chabrier, are beautifully crafted salon miniatures. Each demonstrates how its composer can find something original and interesting to say in a piece only a few minutes in length. But then we come to Debussy’s Poissons d’or and a whole new world of musical expression. One is struck anew how Debussy can conjure such a range of colours from the piano!

The CD takes its title from Debussy’s Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir (Préludes, Book I, No. 4) – actually a quotation from Beaudelaire – and Fialkowska lets us hear every subtle melodic and harmonic change.

Fialkowska’s playing is masterly, from the familiar quiet beauty of Debussy’s Clair de lune to the spectacular final Animé from Ravel’s Sonatine.

La Scena musicale – Paul Robinson
 

Les Artszé
19 août 2019

Un disque-récital de Janina Fialkowska comportant une magnifique interprétation de la sonatine de Maurice Ravel

La célèbre pianiste québécoise résidant désormais en Bavière Janina Fialkowska nous offre Les sons et les parfums …, un nouvel album récital cette fois-ci de musique française pour piano. Elle poursuit toujours une carrière de soliste très active (partout dans le monde et récemment encore auprès du Concours Van Cliburn comme auditrice de premier jury). Nous la suivons avec intérêt depuis ses années d’étude avec Yvonne Hubert, le fleuron de l’enseignement du piano au Canada français (avec Natalie Pépin et Marc Durand).

Ce disque constitue, en somme, un beau divertissement grand public. On y réentend le même nocturne de Fauré (le 4ième) qu’on retrouve sur le récent disque Fauré chez Chandos de Louis Lortie: de ces deux versions récentes de ce nocturne par des artistes d’ici, on pourrait difficilement départager la plus belle venant de ces deux émules de la défunte élève de Fauré lui-même… mais la version de David Jalbert (Endeavour Classics) d’une intégrale de tous ces treize nocturnes est inégalable…même celle de Jean-Philippe Collard (EMI) prend le second rang. Rappelons que madame Yvonne Hubert fut au Conservatoire de Paris la protégée du compositeur Fauré aussi directeur de l’institution et que tous ces noms sont contemporains, bien entendu, du phénoménal pianiste Alfred Cortot. Madame Fialkowska fut l’élève-phare de madame Hubert. Tous les grands pianistes québécois d’aujourd’hui (Laplante, Lortie, Hamelin, Fialkowska jadis Turini) étaient de cette écurie redoutable en lice lors des concours internationaux pour piano lors desquels ils raflaient les meilleurs places.

Pour résumer en peu de mots la qualité de ce disque d’écoute très facile, on a la joie d’y entendre du Germaine Tailleferre, cette compositrice du Groupe des Six (un impromptu en la majeur). Ensuite un très bel Intermezzo de Francis Poulenc (en la bémol majeur, le troisième de la série) et des fragments d’oeuvres en morceaux de Debussy duquel on eût souhaité la Suite Bergamasque entière plutôt qu’un seul extrait sur quatre composantes. Pourtant les plus sublimes réussites de cet album demeurent les Jeux d’eau de Ravel et surtout la Sonatine en trois mouvements faisant 13 minutes où madame Fialkowska atteint des sommets d’aisance technique et puise d’une intarissable source poétique. Indéniablement, elle y rejoint son confrère d’études à l’École Normale de musique, André Laplante, comme une des plus élégantes interprètes de Ravel.

Eric Sabourin - Les Artszé