Janina Fialkowska is a Canadian-American pianist who was born in Montréal in 1951. She studied in Montréal with Yvonne Hubert (who also taught Marc-André Hamelin and Louis Lortie) before going to Paris to work with Yvonne Lefébure and then to New York with Sasha Gorodnitzki. In the early 1970s she won first prize in the first International Arthur Rubinstein Competition whereupon she became a protégée of Rubinstein. Although she is highly regarded in the rather hermetic world of devoted piano fanciers, she has never had the widest possible exposure in her career, which is a shame because she is a marvelously equipped pianist who also has very clear and poetic ideas about how the music she plays should sound. This recital disc of Chopin works certainly supports that assessment. Unfortunately Amazon has not yet listed the CD's contents, but if you go to the picture of the CD's reverse side, click on it, and then on ZOOM, you will be able to make out the disc's list of contents, albeit in French.
As to technique, just listen to the frantic whirlwind in the Grande Valse Brillante in F Major, Op. 34, No. 3. It is clean as a whistle and exciting as can be. As for poetry, one could not do better than hear her performance of the Barcarolle in F-Sharp Minor, Op. 60; both delicacy and drama with tonal finesse and visceral excitement. Yet her playing always has the last measure of grace and at times is more reticent than one is used to hearing. For me this almost always sounds right. She also has an infallible sense of each work's architecture, marshaling the climaxes with precision and inevitability.
One remarkable thing about Fialkowska is that in the early 2000s she developed a tumor on her left arm which ultimately was removed and the resulting muscular defect repaired by a delicate muscle transplant. After a period where she could only play with her right hand (and during which she transcribed and performed some left-hand pieces for right hand alone) she was finally able, with diligent rehabilitation, to resume her two-handed career and this disc is a result of that. Hurray for her!
What a joy to have the pleasure of a further recital by this talented pianist, already well-known for her interpretation of Chopin. For those of us who are already enthusiastic followers of her career, this is further confirmation of her great gift.