Notes and Editorial Reviews
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. She begins the E minor Op. 41 No. 2 Mazurka in hesitant brushstrokes that grow in volume and expressive bleakness, while the extroverted D major Mazurka Op. 33 No. 2's off-beat accentuations and angular lilt truly "Mazurk"!
Perhaps the A-flat Ballade's high count of felicitous local details does not consistently jell. And in the Trio of the B minor Scherzo the frequent phrase-end ritards stop the music in its tracks, yet fiery fingers and seasoned musicianship dominate the tumultuous outer sections. In all, a fine disc.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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