Janina Fialkowska | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Janina Fialkowska 

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Janina Fialkowska

Headlining Northwestern University's weeklong Polish Music Festival, pianist Janina Fialkowska is an assured interpreter of the salon music of imperial Warsaw epitomized by Chopin as well as an avid advocate of vanguard Polish composers of this century. A poised and talented soloist, Fialkowska is a Montreal native, a prodigy who breezed through the Juilliard. Her big break came in 1974 when Arthur Rubinstein took her under his wing. Like the eloquent and debonair Rubinstein, she knows how to elongate Chopin's melodies, steeping them in emotion yet stopping short of schmaltz, but she's also a modernist who can subordinate her dazzling technique to introspection. When she plays Chopin's more structured works, such as the preludes and etudes, she makes transparent the logic beneath the seemingly improvisatory facade--her thoughtful romanticism clearly derives its ardor as much from the mind as from the heart. In her solo recital she'll play a Chopin sampler, including the 24 preludes. (Next week she'll tackle the Second Piano Concerto.) The festival, which commemorates the 80th anniversary of Poland's independence, is billed as this country's most comprehensive survey ever of Polish music. Tuesday, 7:30 PM, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern University, 1977 South Campus Dr., Evanston; 847-467-4000 or 847-491-5441. TED SHEN

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Christian Steiner.

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