"...Fialkowska gives us a rapturous account of the substantial Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude. Liszt’s erratic melodic gift is operating here at full stretch, the harmonies as sophisticated as the right-hand ornamentation is elaborate. There’s not a dud moment in the recital. And this is impressive playing on any account, more so when you read that Fialkowska’s career was nearly derailed by a tumour discovered in her arm in 2002. After groundbreaking, successful treatment she resumed playing in 2004 and sounds better than ever. I think I’m now a paid-up Liszt fan."
Graham Rickson - theartsdesk.com - March 2012
"...This is spectacular playing. Fialkowska brings elegance, brilliance, and sincerity to this very performance-oriented music. She reveals details that only a mature artist and polished technician can."
Scott Noriega - Fanfare - March 2012
*International Piano Choice*
"Released to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Liszt’s birth, this is a recording of urgent importance. The two great statements here are the Bénédiction and Gretchen (a transciption of the second movement of the great Faust Symphony). The Bénédiction has an interior quality worthy of the likes of Arrau. The Gretchen is perhaps even greater; Fialkowska captures the echt-Lisztian mode of utterance perfectly, and her concentration easily sustains the 20-minute span. The Liszt/Chopin Chants Polonais sparkle and are up there with Cortot (whose recordings of ’Spring’, ’The Ring’ and ’My Joys’ are required listening). The recital ends with a glittering Faust Waltz."
Colin Clarke - International Piano - 1 March 2012
"... delicate phrasing ... subtle dynamics ... spiritual introspection ..the finest of nuances ... a wonderful album, Janina Fialkowska proving again with her fabulous abilities her expertise in the romantic repertoire." ****** (out of 6)
Hans-Dieter Grünefeld - Piano-News(Germany) - 1 January 2012
"... all true Lisztians will need to add this disc to their collection. We need many more records from this master-pianist. ATMA Classique’s sound is of demonstration quality."
Bryce Morrison - Gramophone magazine - 1 January 2012
Performance **** Recording ****
" Janina Filakowska previous Liszt recording have been impressive. Her first Mephisto Waltz, one of the recordings circulated fraudulently under Joyce Hatto’s name, was thrilling. There is very good playing on this disc too. It begins well, with the Valse-caprice No. 6 after Schubert. Fialkowska plays the revised version from 1879. It’s markedly different from the more often performed first version. Filakowska adds zest... In the Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude she shows a fine control of the long sustained lines... The highlight of this disc is Chopin’s Chants polonais - Filakowska plays all six that Liszt transcribed, and blends drama with lyricism. This is classy playing. Liszt’s transcription of the ’Gretchen’ movemenmt from A Faust Symphony is also colorful."
Tim Parry - BBC Music Magazine - 1 January 2012
"The finest tribute to the 200th anniversary of the birth of Franz Liszt came from Montreal-born pianist Janina Fialkowska, who mixed transcriptions with original compositions, well-known pieces with less-often-heard ones in interpretations at once elegantly understated and magnetically compelling. Her flawless technique is breathtaking, but no less impressive is her ability to gorgeously shape every musical phrase and thought on this ATMA Classique disc."
John Terauds - Musical Toronto - 28 December 2011
"... A sensitively selected program of not-so-well-known works of enormous difficulty played with tremendous skill, masculine power, stamina and charming feminine grace would sum up this very successful issue... Fialowska’s sensitive, deeply felt and fully understood performance sounds even better on the piano than with full orchestra. Here one can concentrate on the girlish longings of its simple melody followed by the more menacing themes of Faust. The two in combination build to a passionate climax like a love duet..."
Janos Gardonyi - The Whole Note - 1 December 2011
"...[It’s] sheer magic. Was there ever a more deeply felt Bénédiction and a more tender Gretchen? No, surely not. Her way with the slight Chopin songs is above any criticism. Could be the finest Liszt release we will see this year?" *****
Marius Dawn - Pianist Magazine (London) - 1 December 2011
"The Canadian Pianist Janina Fialkowska first came to notice at the Arthur Rubinstein Competition in 1974. Last year she produced a Chopin album worthy of her mentor, Rubinstein, and now here is her Liszt Recital. Full of magical phrasing, it is my Liszt CD of the year. Her choice of music is very personal. Not many pianists would spend more than 20 minutes on Liszt’s piano reduction of the Gretchen movement from Faust symphony, but she does it most persuasively. Especially fine is her playing of Liszt’s slight but delicious reworkings of Chopin’s six Polish Songs. She ends triumphantly with perhaps the most glittering of all Liszt’s transcriptions, the Waltz from Gounod’s Faust. Her playing is all the more remarkable because her career was halted a decade ago by cancer in her left arm, wich required radical surgery. Her recovery is little short of miraculous."
David Mellor - The Daily Mail (Sunday Mail) - 20 November 2011
"Liszt’s Valse-caprice launches an enchanting recital by Janina Fialkowska, who, after illness, returned to the concert platform last year. The poise, spectrum of tone and sheer naturalness of her playing makes the Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude utterly compelling, the instinctive expressiveness of Liszt’s Chopin arrangements likewise. With two Faust-inspired pieces at the end, this is a disc to be treasured by admirers of elegant pianism." *****
Geoffrey Norris - The Telegraph - 11 November 2011
"Who, by the way, was Lang Lang? Canadian Janina Fialkowska shows, how a piano recital by Franz Liszt should sound. In the mid 19th century Franz Liszt managed to become a superstar of the piano. The formula for his success: virtuoso playing, laid back charm and a widespread repertoire of self made transcriptions of popular sometimes legendary melodies of songs, operas and symphonies. Out of this hodgepodge (there are about 3000 works of this kind available). Canadian Janina Fialkowska picked out very aptly some pieces which are much more than just a curiosity: songs by Chopin, waltzes of Schubert as well as a movement of a symphony by Liszt himself which are partly arranged, partly freely paraphrased. She plays those pieces with seriousness, without pushing herself to the centre of attention and at the same time with a deftness that leaves one speechless. When it becomes “virtuoso” the ornaments, played like pearls, resemble a mixture of uninhibited youthfulness and an experienced understanding of the music. Any of the rather effectively used dynamic or tempo variations appear organic as if there wouldn’t be any other way to play this kind of music. Even Gounod’s waltz of “Faust”, the only piece that shows some affinity to a popular tune, gains a deeper meaning. Those pieces which are in the true sense of the word “romantic” pieces draw you in over the duration of the CD."
Malte Ruhnke - Audio Magazine (Germany) - 1 November 2011
"The Polish-Canadian plays from the heart. After her return to the limelight in 2010 with what, for me, was the Chopin disc of the year, Fialkowska produces a winning recital to crown the Liszt bicentenary. It comprises some of his lesser-known works, which the Polish-Canadian pianist turns into music of warmth and substance. She starts with a sparkling Valse-caprice No 6 from Soirées de Vienne and ends with the barnstorming paraphrase Liszt made of the central waltz from Gounod’s Faust. But the reason to buy this CD is the Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude, a piece of extraordinary beauty that plays to Fialkowska’s strengths – her romantic sensibility, her sense of poetry, her unaffected artistry and knack of showcasing the music’s Chopin-esque brilliance." *****
Andrew Clark - The Financial Times - 29 October 2011
"Liszt discs aren’t thin on the ground in his bicentenary year but this one stands out. The 60-year-old Janina Fialkowska’s story is astonishing: nine years ago the discovery of a cancerous tumour led to the surgical reconstruction of the Canadian’s pianist’s left arm, and since then she has rebuilt her career with miraculous success. But irrespective to that, the playing of these lesser-heard pieces is magical. Highlights are the sublime Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude; the joyously rippling Chopin paraphrases, Six Chants Polonais, and Gretchen, the composer’s rapturous transcription of the slow movement from his Faust Symphony." ****
Richard Morrison - The Times 22 Octoberr 2011
*Album of the week*
"Behind this pianist’s superb new CD, and her equally superb Chopin discs last year, lies a poignant story. After a glittering start, she was halted by a tumour in her left arm; muscles had to be removed; she fought back, cancer came back too, but she’s still playing. Her Liszt is wonderfully assured and expressive."
Michael Church -The Independent - 22 October 2011
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