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This is Polish-Canadian pianist Janina Fialkowska’s second Chopin recital disc for ATMA. Arthur Rubinstein, no less, described her as ‘a born Chopin interpreter’, and right from the dark murmurings of the E flat minor Polonaise, it is clear his words carry the ring of truth. The music unfolds naturally throughout, and her deep sound and varied tone are well captured by ATMA’s engineers. The darkness at the heart of the Polonaise is perfectly caught, as is the sparkling brilliance of the first of the group of Waltzes, the E minor, which becomes a miniature tone poem. Her rubato is perfectly judged in the melancholy A minor.

It is the purity of the opening of the second Ballade that is most striking. (Good though Ian Hobson is in his recent offering on Zephyr, Fialkowska is infinitely more attuned.) This purity contrasts massively with the elemental power of the panel. There is no hint of a technical challenge anywhere.

The bouquet of three Preludes begins with a tremendously impulsive, playful C sharp minor. The nocturne-like F sharp minor leads perfectly into the foreboding of the Fantasy. This is a structurally diffi cult piece, and Fialkowska gives the Fantasy a shroud of mystery, coupled with dignity and strength.

Perhaps it is the loneliness of Op 50 No 3 that sticks most in the mind from this group; a muscular second Scherzo, disturbing in its rumblings and charged silences, rounds off a spectacularly intelligent and sublimely executed recital. Excellent, readable and informed notes by the pianist herself complete a notable release.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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