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Review: Polonaise-Fantaisie in American Record Guide

Inna’s new recording, Polonaise-Fantaisie: The Story of a Pianist, was recently reviewed in American Record Guide! James Harrington calls the recording “poignant, humorous, and perceptive…a complete picture of the wide range of repertoire [Faliks] excels at.”

Read the full review below:

Polonaise-Fantasy

SHCHEDRIN: Basso Ostinato; BACH: Prelude & Fugue in G-sharp minor; MOZART: Fantasia
in D minor; FREIDLIN: Ballade in Black & White; LISZT: The Maiden’s Wish; La Campanella;
CHOPIN: Polonaise-Fantasy; GERSHWIN: 3 Preludes; CARTER: Retrouvailes;
TCHAIKOVSKY: Nocturne; BIRTWISTLE: Oockooing Bird

Inna Faliks, p; Rebecca Mozo, narr Delos 3540 [2CD] 98 minutes

This is a unique program, combining an autobiography with music linked to that story.
Ukrainian-born Faliks is the head of the piano department at UCLA and a busy concert
pianist with a long established interest in presenting programs that include poetry and
spoken word interspersed with wide-ranging piano repertoire. I attended one of those
programs in New York several years ago, and have favorably reviewed two of her records
(Rachmaninoff, Ravel, Pasternack, MSR 1333, J/F 2010; Beethoven, MSR 1446, M/A 2014).

Faliks wrote the texts, which are convincingly delivered by Rebecca Mozo. Not once did I
feel that she was telling Faliks’s story; it was Faliks telling her own story. Poignant,
humorous, and perceptive to anyone who has ever pursued music, the spoken words allow
you to get to know Faliks far beyond other pianists you may listen to. That is both the
strength and a long-term weakness in this release. After hearing the entire recording three
times, I pretty much knew the story of her life, from her earliest musical and family
memories in Odessa, through immigration to the US, her training with memorable teachers
and mentors, her early successes and the beginning of her international career. Her story
here ends with a reunion and eventual marriage to a childhood sweetheart and some
thoughts on the value of music.

The piano pieces are very well performed and extremely well selected and ordered to fit
into the autobiography. At this point though, I am ready to return to the music alone, many
times. Undoubtedly I will regularly be reminded of events and characters in her compelling
story as I listen, especially to the title work. It was Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantasy that her
dying piano teacher asked her to play, but she had never learned it. After he died she did,
and the performance here is as good as any I have heard. Her Gershwin is also memorable
and has as natural a feel as any pianist raised and trained in the US would have. There are
some old favorites here, like the Liszt arrangements plus a premiere recording given to her
by one of her composition teachers (Freidlin). The program is a complete picture of the
wide range of repertoire she excels at. After hearing her story and listening to her playing, I
can imagine that she is a fantastic teacher as well.

JAMES HARRINGTON

Frederic Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated (1975)

Frederic Rzewski

Frederic Rzewski (Photo by Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images)

This epic one-hour set of 36 Variations on the Sergio Ortega’s Chilean Freedom Song has become a modern classic. It is a journey through a multitude of styles: from polyphony, 12-tone, extended technique, to jazz, pop, minimalism, and free improvisation by the performer. Rarely programmed because of its immense difficulty, this exhilarating work has never sounded more relevant.

Inna Faliks’ rousing performance of this work at the Jacaranda Series in LA has been described as “triumphant, epic, magnificent and rich.” (Patrick Scott, Artistic Director, Jacaranda).

UPDATE: Listen to Inna’s performance of The People United Will Never Be Defeated at Jacaranda!

 

Inna Faliks after her performance of The People United Will Never Be Defeated at Jacaranda Music.

Reviews from the Ravinia Festival and more!

Reviews from Inna’s recent performances at the Ravinia Festival, with Camerata Pacifica, and at the Newport Festival:

“With Faliks in the lead, the prickly Scherzo and huge, dramatic Finale fully reflected Mahler’s mighty voice. Faliks is a poetic pianist, unafraid to linger over a short pause or craft a melodic fragment to explode and fade with blinding speed. But especially in the transcription’s fast-paced final movements she never lost the singing-through line so crucial to navigating Mahler’s often chaotic universe. The Scherzo’s staccato, martial rhythms could be crisply stern but also piquant and witty. Its lyrical moments glowed, thanks to Falik’s pliant, flexible melody lines.”

Classical Voice North America, September 2017

“…it was Ukrainian-born pianist Inna Faliks who blew the other two pianists out of the water with her enthralling account of Opus 111, the last of the three sonatas and one of Beethoven’s most stunning creations, as he ends a lifetime of sonatas with a few shimmering scale passages and a hushed C Major chord.

“This amazing score was clearly in her DNA, as Faliks charged into the brooding introduction when we all thought she was adjusting the piano bench. And from there she had the audience hanging on every note.

…this was one of the most moving performance I’ve ever heard of Opus 111, a work whose stormy opening gives way to a great hymn to humanity.”

Providence Journal (Newport Music Festival), July 2017

“Huang and Aznavoorian returned after intermission with pianist Inna Faliks for a triumphant rendering of Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 67.
For the Camerata players to evoke emotion while excavating Shostakovich’s sharper vocabulary of musical images, figures, and gestures was remarkable. . Faliks’ mash-up of sensitivity and pure fury brought a heightened relevance to this rarely performed, beautifully complex stunner. A simplyenthralling performance!
Prokofiev Flute Sonata… The emotion came from Faliks, whose expressive, spirited, curious interactions brought life to even the conventional accompaniment patterns of the four-movement piece.

Stage and Cinema, September 2017

More from Newport Music Festival and Music in the Mountains

Here are two lovely preview articles from some of last month’s engagements!

First, a personal essay I wrote about my new recording, “Polonaise-Fantasie, Story of a Pianist,” for the Newport Music Festival:

I know that I am the artist that I am now, partially thanks to growing up in the Odessa of the past – seven people in a three-room apartment, surrounded by books, music, ideas and friends (one of whom is Misha. You will meet him in the story. He is my husband and the father of my two children).

Recording this story, and this music, is the most personal project I have ever done.

Full article here.

Second, here’s a nice article on my appearance at the Music in the Mountains Festival in Durango:

The Ukranian-born pianist has played in our festival before, so she knows the territory and the drill. If you want a sneak peek, there will be an open rehearsal from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at the Festival Tent. You can also see and hear Faliks play a number of different works on YouTube. Calm, elegant and self-possessed, she’s a marvelous musician whom critics have described as playing with “grace and raw power.”

Faliks has had a distinguished concert and recording career. She’s also professor of piano and head of keyboard studies at the UCLA Department of Music, which frees her to concertize at summer festivals all over the world, including ours.

Full article here.

Newport Music Festival

It was lovely to return to the Newport Music Festival for a week of intense and magical music-making. Here’s an excerpt from the Providence Journal’s review of my performance of Beethoven Opus 111.

“…it was Ukrainian-born pianist Inna Faliks who blew the other two pianists out of the water with her enthralling account of Opus 111, the last of the three sonatas and one of Beethoven’s most stunning creations, as he ends a lifetime of sonatas with a few shimmering scale passages and a hushed C Major chord.

“This amazing score was clearly in her DNA, as Faliks charged into the brooding introduction when we all thought she was adjusting the piano bench. And from there she had the audience hanging on every note.

…this was one of the most moving performance I’ve ever heard of Opus 111, a work whose stormy opening gives way to a great hymn to humanity.”

(Newport Music Festival), July 2017

Polonaise-fantasie: The Story of a Pianist

polonaise-fantasie coverI am thrilled to share news of the upcoming July 7 release of the most personal recording project I have ever done: Polonaise-fantasie: The Story of a Pianist. This recording is a hybrid of a piano recital and  an autobiographical monologue. It is my hope that, in sharing this story, I offer audiences a glimpse into a life of a performing musician, as well as into my very personal story – the story that makes me the artist I am today.

Five years ago, when I was pregnant with my son Nathaniel, I started writing down vivid memories of my childhood in Odessa, the former Soviet Union, and of immigration to the US.  Gradually, these started to take the shape of a book about a life in music.  At that time, I wvas living in NYC, performing, and curating my series, Music/Words, where poets read between musical performances.  Poetry inspired me for as long as I can remember, and influenced my first CD  (Sound of Verse, MSR Classics.)  I hadn’t written in years.  It was profoundly satisfying to be writing once again.

A few years later, after I had moved to Los Angeles to head the piano department at UCLA, the chapters of the book found their way into the hands of one Cynthia Comsky, an incredible producer and magnificent lady. She insisted that I use them to create a recital-monologue. Many memories described in the book had musical pieces inexorably connected to them. I chose pieces that had been with me since childhood, as well as those that found their way into my repertoire, along my path, to connect and illuminate the narrative. The format, play-read-play-read, echoes the format of my Music/Words programs, where the poems and the music create an arch that is, hopefully, emotionally resonant.  Cameron Watson, a brilliant director, directed me and wonderful actress Rebecca Mozo, in a performance of the work at the Ebell of Los Angeles, in 2015, just a few months after my daughter Frida was born.

I know that I am the artist that I am partially thanks to growing up in the Odessa of the past – seven people in a three-room apartment, surrounded by books, music, ideas and friends (one of whom is Misha. You will meet him in the story. He is my husband and the father of my two children).

Recording this story, and this music, is the most personal project I have ever done.

I dedicate the recording to my family: my parents, Irene and Simon Faliks, who were brave enough to leave when they did. My husband and best friend, then and now, Misha Shpigelmacher. My two children, Nathaniel and Frida Shpigelmacher, as well as to anyone who has ever left a place in search of a better life.

Includes:

Rodion Shchedrin: Basso Ostinato

J.S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in G-sharp Minor, The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book

Jan Freidlin: Ballade in Black and White

W.A. Mozart: Fantasia in D Minor, K 397

Chopin-Liszt: The Maiden’s Wish

Paganini-Liszt: La Campanella

Frédéric Chopin: Polonaise-fantaisie, Op. 61

George Gershwin: Prelude 1 in B- at Major

Gershwin: Prelude 2 in C-sharp Minor

Gershwin: Prelude 3 in E- at Minor

Elliot Carter: Retrouvailles

P. I. Tchaikovsky: Nocturne in C-sharp Minor

Harrison Birtwistle: Oockooing Bird

 

Spring News

Dear Friends,

Happy Spring!

It is with boundless excitement that I share with you the flurry of upcoming premieres and performances this spring, and look forward to a thrilling summer. Join me for concerts in Chicago, New Haven, NYC, Los Angeles, Music/Words with the Poetry Foundation, as well as the brand new Dialogues Festival at UCLA, featuring at least 20 world premieres.

These lead into great summer appearances—my return to Newport Festival, concerto with the wonderful orchestra at Music in the Mountains Festival, and my Ravinia Festival debut, which heralds an exciting 17-18 season.

degas dancers
Inna Faliks performing Music/Words at the Getty, in celebration of Degas’s Russian Dancers

April 7—Chicago, IL
12pm: WFMT Live Broadcast @ Pianoforte Chicago
6pm: Recital @ Pianoforte Chicago

April 9—New Haven, CT
3 pm: Recital @ Lyric Hall (Impromptu Classical Series)

*World Premieres by Drozdoff, plus music of Schubert, Freidlin, Takemitsu

April 11—New York, NY
7:30pm: Recital @ Hunter College, Ida Lang Hall (Impromptu Classical Series)

April 12—New York, NY
6:00pm: Recital @ Yamaha Artist Services (6@6 Series)

May 2—Los Angeles, CA
7:30pm: Inna Faliks & Friends at UCLA @ Schoenberg Hall, UCLA

*Solo and chamber music, including Shostakovich Quintet with faculty and alumni. If you missed this in March, here is your chance to hear it again!

May 27—Chicago, IL
7:00pm, Music/Words @ The Poetry Foundation

May 29—Chicago, IL
8:00pm: Live Recital Series on WFMT Chicago Classical Radio

June 1,2,3—Los Angeles, CA
7:30 pm: Dialogues Festival at UCLA @ Ostin Recording Studio

*I am thrilled to put together this festival, where at least sixteen world premieres will be unveiled! Celebrating the link between past and present, this festival explores new music composed in response to Beethoven, Ravel, Schumann, by composers such as Richard Danielpour, Timo Andres, Tamir Hendelman, Ian Krouse, Paola Prestini, and more. The Dialogues Festival also juxtaposes works by Richard Danielpour and Chopin, and presents new compositions by UCLA student composers in response to Bach’s Aria from the Goldberg Variations. Featuring: Inna Faliks (piano), David Kaplan (piano), UCLA piano students, and UCLA composition students.

I look forward to seeing you and hearing from you this spring!.

warmest regards,
Inna

Winter Newsletter

20161209_190759

Dear Friends,

Happy 2017!

The year is off to a galloping start, after the whirlwind of fall and early winter.

I returned from a tour of China’s major halls, all architectural and acoustic masterpieces, including the Beijing Center for Performing Arts, the Shanghai Oriental Arts Theater, Tianjin Grand Theater, and more (pictures below)!

I enjoyed my debut with the fantastic group Camerata Pacifica, a collaboration with Bodytraffic modern dance (described as “electrifying and energizing” by the LA Times), and right after that, a very moving experience: playing Beethoven 3rd Concerto on my home turf, with UCLA Philharmonia and Neal Stulberg. You can see the video here.

For another chance to hear this piece, come to the February 19th concert with Peninsula Symphony, and Gary Berkson, details below.

Immediately after the New Year, I completed my forthcoming 2-disc set for Delos, “Polonaise Fantasie, Story of a Pianist”, a monologue-recital of my essays, read by actress-par-excellence Rebecca Mozo, with music ranging from Bach to Chopin to Carter to Birtwistle. Look out for a 2017 release!

Here a some upcoming winter dates to share with you—please come to these if you can, and keep in touch!

January 29
Inna plays Wanderer
LACMA, Sundays Live, 6 pm – recital and livestream.
http://www.lacma.org/event/inna-faliks-4

February 19th
Beethoven 3rd, Peninsula Symphony
Gary Berkson, conductor
http://www.pensym.org/

March 4th
Music/Words at the Getty, in celebration of Degas’s Russian Dancers
http://www.getty.edu/visit/cal/events/ev_1438.html

March 19th
Dilijan Series (Lark Music Society), Zipper Hall
Schostakovich Trio and Quintet
Some of my most beloved chamber music works, with my esteemed colleagues Movses Pogossian, Antonio Lysy, and others.
More information here

May this year be filled with hope, beauty and music for you all.

Warmest,
Inna

 

20161201_180623 20161204_094043 20161204_181753

Re-imagine: Ravel and Beethoven

Reimagine Ravel and Beethoven-1

This recital features a dialogue between today’s hottest composers and music of Ravel and Beethoven. Paola Prestini, Timo Andres, Billy Child respond individually to each of the pieces in Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit. Additionally, 6 UCLA composers, including Richard Danielpour, Tamir Hendelman, Peter Golub, Mark Carlson, David Lefkowitz and Ian Krouse, create responses to Beethoven’s mystical Bagatelles opus 126. Subsenquently, the program alternates between the Ravel, Beethoven, and responses to them by today’s most resonant composers.

Two Breathtaking Concerts in North Carolina

Check out these rave reviews from Inna’s concert and recital at the University of North Carolina earlier this month:

“Inna Faliks’ performance was anything but routine. She had more than enough upper body strength to hold her own against the composer’s full, plush orchestration. The highlight of her performance was the wonderful intimate chamber music quality her performance of the nocturne-like second movement with its dialogue between keyboard and woodwinds. There was no want of bravura in the finale.”

CVNC, May 2016

“Faliks kept listeners in open mouth wonder with her seemingly magical keyboard wizardry. From my seat I could not see the abundance of crossed hands listeners were commenting about as they left after her repeated curtain calls. Her palette of refined color, dynamics, and tone were breathtaking.”

CVNC, May 2016