Chopin Recital 2

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COMPOSERS: Fryderyk Chopin
LABELS: ATMA Classique
ALBUM TITLE: Chopin Recital 2
WORKS: Polonaise in E flat; Preludes, Op. 28; Nocturne in E flat; Mazurkas in B flat, A inor & C sharp minor
PERFORMER: Janina Fialkowska


This is a rich and illuminating find. From the outset you sense Janina Fialkowska’s innate, developmental grasp of drama – of the connection between phrases and their dynamic character. Then there’s the sheer life in her playing, reflected in the perfectly nourished and shrewdly apportioned sound, unmarred by any hint of coarseness or ill-defined tone. Without exaggeration, she reveals the deep humanity of Chopin’s counterpoint, in which every strand plays an expressive role. She has a sharp grasp of polyphony (never more evident than in the bewitching E-flat Nocturne). True to Chopin’s spirit, the playing is everywhere informed by a classical sense of proportion. Yet her pacing and exceptional grasp of musical narrative is a masterclass in the art of pianistic rhetoric.

Above all, her rhythm is continuously supple at every level, from note-to-note inflection to the binding together of whole phrases. In all the best senses, Fialkowska is a big pianist. In contrast to accounts of Chopin’s own playing (but like his idol Bach), she communicates an abiding and exhilarating physicality. The F major Ballade and F minor Fantasy are by turns exciting, poignant, volcanic, driven and exhausting – this is tragic art on a Shakespearean level. Like her mentor Arthur Rubinstein, she presents a profoundly rounded portrait of Chopin, illuminating both his innate virility as a composer, and his transcendent grace.


Jeremy Siepmann