Janina Fialkowska / Raffi Armenian

Memories of Poland

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This disc, entitled "Souvenirs of Poland" in both French and English, illustrates one of the tactics commonly used by CBC Records in carrying out one of its missions, which is to promote the dissemination of Canadian classical music in performances by Canadian artists.

In this case, the concept of the album is really quite natural. It comprises three concerted works for piano and orchestra all with predominantly Polish inspiration: One (Chopin's famous Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise in E flat Major, Op. 22) from the early Romantic age; a second (Moritz Moszkowski's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in E Major, Op. 59) from the late Romantic age (1989) and a third, Peter Paul Koprowski's Souvenirs de Pologne, written following the Polish-born Canadian composer's return to his homeland for a Warsaw Contemporary Music Festival in 1983.

They are all performed by Janina Fialkowska, herself a Canadian pianist of half-Polish ancestry (though she lives in Connecticut, U.S.), with Raffi Armenian conducting the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. The pianist finds the strong Polish identity of all these works. With strong technical skills and an obvious sense of musical continuity, she has no problems solving one of Chopin's more difficult interpretational problems, which is to effectively link the later piano solo Andante Spianato to the less mature Grande Polonaise for piano and orchestra. She is also very effective in the glittery Moszkowski concerto.

The Koprowski work is a twenty-two minute concerto in the form of five linked character movements portraying sights and sounds absorbed by Koprowski on his return. Fialkowska seems to identify well with the work.

The orchestra is a small one (fifty-two players, say the liner notes), a bit inadequate for the Moszkowski. The sound (Anton Kwiatkowski, producer and Ed Marshall, engineer) is decent. Well worth it for the Koprowski.

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