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Fialkowska Plays Szymanowski (Piano)

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Fialkowska Plays Szymanowski (Piano)

Janina Fialkowska has been recognized world-wide as one of the leading pianists of her generation and for her exceptional artistry. She appears regularly as a guest soloist with leading orchestras, including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, the Israel Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Minnesota and Philadelphia Orchestras and the symphony orchestras of Pittsburgh, Montreal and Toronto as well as all the major London orchestras. Her recitals in the major music centers of North America and Europe have been equally lauded.


Born in Montreal to a Canadian mother and a Polish father, Janina Fialkowska began piano studies at the age of five. She entered the Ecole de Musique Vincent d'Indy, Montreal and studied privately in Paris. After pursuing advanced studies at New York's Juilliard School of Music, Janina Fialkowska was a top prize winner at the First International Artur Rubinstein Master Piano Competition in Israel. It was Rubinstein himself who brought the music of Szymanowski to her attention. In 1992, the CBC produced a 60-minute television documentary, "The World of Janina Fialkowska," that aired to great acclaim throughout Canada. This program was awarded a Special Jury Prize at the 1992 San Francisco International Film Festival. Janina Fialkowska's solo discography includes works by Chopin, Liszt, Moszkowski, Chopin and Peter Paul Koprowski.

The Piano Music of Szymanowski — by Janina Fialkowska

The Four Etudes, Op. 4, date from Szymanowski's early student days in Warsaw (1900-1902) when his piano music responded not only to Chopin, but to German romanticism as in the first study, with its Brahmsian parallel sixths or in the Wagnerian progression of the fourth study. There are even hints of Scriabinesque writing, particularly in the second study. The third Etude, incidentally, found an early champion in the renowned virtuoso Ignace Paderewski.

The Variations on a Polish Folk Theme, Op. 10. were adapted from Kleczyynski's collection of folk music from the Tatra mountains in Poland; this collection was to become a major source of inspiration for the composer. Later in his career Szymanowski was to demonstrate a less academically refined approach to folk music (the Op. 62 Mazurkas, for instance) but at this time his chief mentors were Chopin and the German romantics and it is not difficult to pinpoint their influence on the overall plan and detailed working of the piece — it is nevertheless an astonishingly mature essay in a challenging genre. Most striking of all is the control of the ambitious musical structure. Using the full arsenal of romantic piano devices (excruciatingly difficult for the performer at times) Szymanowski creates alternating rapid and exquisitely crafted slow variations. An imposing Funeral March, with heavy tolling bells, leads to the final variations. The finale introduces a touch of humor when a fugue, which begins solemnly enough, explodes in pianistic fireworks! The three poems comprising Metopes were composed in 1915 and in this work the composer adopts a highly personal impressionist manner. Like the metopes of Doric architecture (a metope being the space between two triglyphs; an ornament with three vertical channels on a Doric frieze) Szymanowski's pieces are intended to outline stages in history, in this case based on Homer's Odyssey. Isle of the Sirens takes much of its musical detail from mythological sources. Strange pianistic configurations reflect the double flute and lyre of Homer's time, an insistent lullaby, and bird-calls remind us that the sirens were half-bird and half woman. Calypso portrays the daughter of Atlas and Tethys, who personifies the depths of the sea and who kept Odysseus on the island of Ortygia for seven years. Nausicaa depicts the dancing of Nausicaa and the Phaeacian maidens who discover Odysseus after his shipwreck.

Masques (1916) consists of a set of tone poems for piano, with elaborately sectional formal schemes reflecting the unfolding narratives. The first poem depicts the familiar Scheherazade of the 1001 nights. Tantris the Clown is based on Ernst Hardt's distortion of the Tristan legend and clearly aims to depict in musical terms the grotesque antics of a crazed lover. Amidst the crisp rhythmic patterns and points of sharp dissonance, both the Love theme from Scheherazade and a new theme are subject to wicked distortion. Don Juan's Serenade (dedicated to Artur Rubinstein) opens with an extended passage of quasi-improvised character. The serenade grows impassioned and urgent as it develops, eventually leading smoothly to a return of the introductory cadenza. Szymanowski's final works for piano, the Mazurkas Op. 62, were commissioned by Sir Victor Cazalet, a British music lover. Delicate, nostalgic and intensely personal, the Mazurkas are imbued with a dream-like shadowy quality. The composer's beloved Tatra folk music makes here its final unearthly appearance in his music.
 

Track Listing:

Fialkowska Plays Szymanowski
1. Etudes (4) for piano, Op. 4, M3 by Szymanowski, Karol Piano: Janina Fialkowska Length: 03:16
2. Etudes (4) for piano, Op. 4, M3 by Szymanowski, Karol Piano: Janina Fialkowska Length: 01:37
3. Etudes (4) for piano, Op. 4, M3 by Szymanowski, Karol Piano: Janina Fialkowska Length: 04:14
4. Etudes (4) for piano, Op. 4, M3 by Szymanowski, Karol Piano: Janina Fialkowska Length: 03:09
5. Variations on a Polish Folk Theme, theme & variations (10) in B minor, Op. 10, M10 by Szymanowski, Karol Piano: Janina Fialkowska Length: 19:22
6. Metopes, poems (3) for piano, Op. 29, M31 by Szymanowski, Karol Piano: Janina Fialkowska Length: 05:41
7. Metopes, poems (3) for piano, Op. 29, M31 by Szymanowski, Karol Piano: Janina Fialkowska Length: 05:38
8. Metopes, poems (3) for piano, Op. 29, M31 by Szymanowski, Karol Piano: Janina Fialkowska Length: 04:18
9. Masques (3) for piano, Op. 34, M35 by Szymanowski, Karol Piano: Janina Fialkowska Length: 09:48
10. Masques (3) for piano, Op. 34, M35 by Szymanowski, Karol Piano: Janina Fialkowska Length: 06:31 11. Masques (3) for piano, Op. 34, M35 by Szymanowski, Karol Piano: Janina Fialkowska Length: 06:01
12. Mazurkas (2) for piano, Op. 62, M73 by Szymanowski, Karol Piano: Janina Fialkowska Length: 02:57
13. Mazurkas (2) for piano, Op. 62, M73 by Szymanowski, Karol Piano: Janina Fialkowska Length: 02:46