This Chopin recital might be called offbeat and curiously evocative of an older time. Polish-Canadian pianist Janina Fialkowska was a student of Artur Rubinstein; while she doesn't sound like him, she sounds like a scion of old traditions in which Chopin was quite freely played. Her Chopin readings are poetic, almost impressionistic, and rhythmically irregular enough to catch your attention despite the mild emotional temperature of the whole. The sequence of three mazurkas toward the end offers performances characteristic of her approach as she molds the basic mazurka rhythm into any number of shapes. She never loses the beat entirely, however, and the individual pieces often have quite subtle flavors. The Polonaise in C sharp minor, Op. 26/1, and the two waltzes with the designation "Grande valse brillante" have an almost nostalgic feel in place of the usual stirring virtuosity. Each piece seems to map out a new terrain within an overall intimate sphere, and the intimate but clear sound engineering, produced in a small Quebec concert hall rather than in the overblown church spaces the ATMA label often favors, is ideally suited to Fialkowska's aims. This is a Chopin lover's disc that will deliver something new even to those who have heard these pieces many times.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim