Magazine article Gramophone

Chopin: Complete Mazurkas

Magazine article Gramophone

Chopin: Complete Mazurkas

Article excerpt

Chopin

Complete Mazurkas

Janina Fialkowska pf

ATMA Classique [F] (2) ACD2 2682 (150' * DDD)

Janina Fialkowska continues her Chopin odyssey with a subtle and elusive challenge. The 55 Mazurkas (extended from what was once considered 52) are Chopin's confessional diary: joyous, anguished, luxuriant, austere, testy and conciliatory, they are at the very heart of Chopin's genius. The 27 Etudes may be an intimidating lexicon of technique ('boy, did they ever give me grief--the American pianist Ruth Laredo) but the Mazurkas are sufficiently rooted and ethnic that they can become inaccessible to all but the finest musicians.

Fialkowska, making her courageous return after serious illness, is Canadian but, as her name declares, of Polish origin. And Rubinstein, her longtime mentor, would have been the first to admire her unfailing musical honesty, her refreshing alternative to self-conscious sophistication. Sensitive to the mazurka's 16th-century peasant origins--the reverse of the polonaises, court and regal dances--she is no less aware of Chopin's alchemy, his transformation of the rudimentary into 'something rich and strange'. She captures 'the wood-note wild' of Op 6 No 3, the hiccuping burst into radiant dance elaboration in Op 41 No 3, and is sufficiently resourceful in Op 37 No 1 (the one Michelangeli, when caught in one of his rare forthcoming moods, played as an encore) to resolve its repetitions. …

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