Ihr Opernratgeber review

by Sven Godenrath

Reimagine: Beethoven & Ravel

The Bagatelle by Peter Golub, played by Inna Faliks, impresses with its sparkling elegance and the subtle sparkling piano. The same applies to Bagatelle No. 1, no. 3 , no. 5 and no. 6 by Ludwig van Beethoven, the Bagatelle by Richard Danielpour, Sweet Nothings by Mark Carlsons… The Bagatelle by Tamir Hendelman is rhythmically accentuated, as is Bagatelle No. 2 and no. 4 by Ludwig van Beethoven, Etude 2a by Ian Krause, Bagatelle by Daniel Leikowitz.

ConcertoNet

Review of Inna’s performance at NYC’s Bargemusic Here and Now Winter Festival

by Henry Rolnick

Whew!!! No other words describe it.

Stunning performance by Inna Faliks … a BargeMusic concert which whirled away from its hour-plus duration to a minute-to-minute revelation.

The last two works showed two miracles: First was the Pursuit (in response to “Scarbo”) by Billy Childs.
Mr. Childs’ piece was unfamiliar. The familiar miracle was Ms. Faliks. She succeed with digital faultlessness in Ravel’s original.

Ravel wrote [“Scarbo”] the year of Einstein’s great time/space discovery, yet Ms. Faliks turned his pre-quantum mechanics into a personal cosmic journey of hide-and-seek shadows and blazing light, a cosmic chase and a moonlit nightmare.

Full Review

Berkshire Fine Arts

Review of Inna’s performance at NYC’s Bargemusic Here and Now Winter Festival

by Susan Hall

Inna Faliks is a superb concert pianist, who also heads the piano studies department at the University of California, Los Angeles.  Her recordings are devoted to revealing kindred spirits. … You too can be a kindred spirit.

Husband and wife, Robert and Clara Schumann, are offered together in The Schumann Project. Faliks has kept the composers’ magical, whimsical, heart-felt language central to her repertoire. … Her appreciation for Clara’s individual voice is clear in her recording of the Piano Sonata in G Minor. [Clara Schumann’s] Etudes move from dark to ebullient. Faliks places them where she feels they speak most powerfully and dramatically.

For the recording [Reimagine: Beethoven and Ravel, Faliks] asked a group of contemporary composers to respond to Beethoven’s Bagatelles, his last work for piano and also Ravel’s notoriously challenging Gaspard de la Nuit. Worth listening.

Full Review

Pizzicato review

by Remy Franck

Reimagine: Beethoven & Ravel

Ukrainian-born American pianist Inna Faliks has asked nine contemporary composers, including Richard Danielpour, Paola Prestini, Billy Childs, and Timo Andres, to write a short piece of music on each of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Bagatelles, Op. 126, and Maurice Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit.

The results, as might be expected, are of varying interest. Richard Danielpour, Ian Krouse and David Lefkovitz have succeeded in creating particularly characteristic new Bagatelles.

In contrast to Beethoven’s Opus, where each new Bagatelle is followed by Beethoven’s, in Ravel’s case only the contemporary interpretations of Ondine, le Gibet and Scarbo are heard, with Paola Prestini’s vision of Ondine and Billy Child’s “Pursuit” to Scarbo being particularly pleasing.

In all the pieces of this original program, ultimately the pianist herself impresses the most thanks to a technically brilliant playing, which is rhythmically immensely secure and also sensitive enough to make the right moods audible with dynamic as well as color nuances, both in the Beethoven original and in the new compositions.

The album contains detailed texts by Inna Faliks, and also from the composers, who report about their own pieces.

American Record Guide review

by James Harrington

Reimagine: Beethoven & Ravel

The title may be “Reimagine” but the concept is yet another amazing product of Inna Faliks‘s extraordinary imagination. Besides the quality of the music and her exceptional pianism, we have to consider other great aspects of this recording. The program alternates a newly composed Bagatelle response with each of Beethoven’s original six Bagatelles, OP.126. The second part of the program is a series of responses to Ravel’s Gaspard del la Nuit, which has been a part of her repertoire for quite some time now.(MSR 1333, Jan/Feb 2010). We should also honor Faliks for commissioning works from mine composers during the pandemic. All were written specifically for her, and these are world premiere recordings. Her booklet essay is outstanding, and each of the composers contributes a paragraph.

The foundations for this project go back to her studies with Gilbert Kalish. She gives him credit for introducing her to the compositional response idea. Two excellent Faliks recordings also add to the foundation of “Reimagine”: Beethoven (MSR 1446, Mar/Apr 2014) and Ravel (above). Her comments about alternating the Beethoven with newly composed responses are worth quoting here. “I hope that the emerging dialog between then and now points out the unique character of the original while forming a wholly new sonic adventure.” She could not have succeeded better.

Her Gaspard de la Nuit recording from over 10 years ago is still memorable, and she would probably include it in a full recital program with the pieces on this disc. The new works are every bit as demanding as Ravel’s notorious original. ‘Ondine’, the water spirit, gets treated to a pair of Variations on a Spell by Paola Prestini: ‘Water Sprite’ and ‘Bell Tolls’. ‘Le Gibet’, the hanging corpse, inspired Timo Andres to use a forward-moving ostinato that ends with dark chords in his ‘Old Ground’. ‘Scarbo’, the goblin up to nighttime mischief, was taken by Billy Childs to an even darker place in ‘Pursuit’. He used the theme of a black man pursued by either a slave catcher, a KKK mob, or even the police. He calls Faliks’s interpretation of the piece extraordinary. She refers to his new work as one that is as fiendishly difficult to play as Ravel’s finger-buster. ‘Pursuit’ was released as a downloadable single on Navona back in May.

This release continues a lengthening list of great recordings from Faliks. I have been fortunate to see her perform in person a couple of times and have communicated with her via email from time to time. She told me that she hopes to be in New York this coming season for this “Reimagine” program. You can be sure I will be there.

The Schumann Project is Record of the Week on the CBC!

So honored to have my album The Schumann Project, Volume 1 as “Record of the Week” on CBC’s In Concert with Paolo Pietropaolo! The program airs noon ET on Sunday, November 7th, and you can listen at the CBC website.

The CBC’s website describes Pietropaolo’s program as: “The ‘best of the best’ live classical music — that’s the heart and soul of In Concert. Gorgeous chamber works, the world’s finest orchestras, and intimate recitals featuring some of Canada’s best young musicians on the brink of stardom. You’ll hear a carefully curated blend of classical hits along with new brand new discoveries presented with passion and rare insight by Paolo Pietropaolo.”

Thank-you again, Paolo, for your kind appraisal!

For an archive of the episode’s playlist, click here.

Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review

by Grego Applegate Edwards

Reimagine: Beethoven & Ravel

The world of music has many facets of course and if you are like me the whole everloving Pop scene seems ever more vast and mysterious. I’ve pretty much given up on trying to assimilate the new flavors of the month there. I no longer feel compelled to hear all that as it comes out. There is too much great music coming out in Classical, New Music, Jazz, Avant, “World” and Avant Rock to appreciate. And the days when I made ends meet in a “Top 40” band are long gone, for better or worse.

So today another unexpected new one by the very talented pianist Inna Faliks. It is called Reimagine: Beethoven & Ravel (Navona NV6352). It is a great example of how a poetic musicianship and the freedom to rethink typical categories can make for very enjoyable and rewarding fare.

Essentially Ms. Faliks spans three centuries of piano music by paying homage to Beethoven and Ravel in interesting ways.  The program zeroes in on key compositions–Beethoven’s “Bagatelles op. 126” and Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit. 

Ms. Faliks had an inspired idea—to commission living composers to write piano music dedicated to work out modern implications from the Bagatelles and Gaspard. The program features some nine world premieres in all. So to begin the opening sequence each Bagatelle gets Inna’s lucid reading, followed in each case by a commissioned work that draws from that Bagatelle for a special New Music utterance. Stylistically the new works cover a good deal of ground, from harmonically stretched passages to rollickingly motor minimal to anything goes lyricisms.

Each of the six op. 126 “Bagatelles” gets a worthy performance, followed in each case by a newly commissioned work that extends Beethoven to our present day world in interesting ways. And then we have three more works based on Ravel’s Gaspar.  The names of the New Music composers are some quite familiar, some less so but all of the music leads to an essential impression of the place of the revered masters in the realm of the Modern.

So we gladly explore the adventurous adoption of each classical work in the imaginative hands of, respectively, Richard Golub, Tamir Hendelman, Richard Danielpour, Ian Krouse, Mark Carlson, David Lefkowitz, Paola Prestini, Timo Andres and Billy Childs.

It is an album that wears very well as you listen repeatedly. It is a beautiful showcase for Inna Faliks’ deeply rich musicality and a wonderful program that gets you to appreciate Beethoven and Ravel anew and what they contribute to our contemporary music world. Strongly recommended.

Clavier Companion/Piano Magazine Review

by Scott Cuellar

The Schumann Project, Volume 1

By juxtaposing two large-scale Schumann works, Faliks demonstrates the stylistic and character differences between the two composers very clearly, while espousing a lyrical reading of both works. Clara’s Piano Sonata in G Minor is characterized by Faliks’ sweetness of sound and elegance of temperament. She achieves a remarkable legato in lyrical passages, and a consistently warm and generous sound, even in energetic sections. By contrast, her approach to Robert’s Symphonic Etudes is just that—symphonic; she coaxes a tremendous range of color and articulation from the instrument, giving each etude a specific sound world to inhabit, from the most playful to the most furious. Especially impressive is the handling of the notorious Etude IV, in which she shapes each arpeggiation very subtly in accordance with the harmonic progression and shape of each phrase. The finale showcases the dynamic power of the instrument, and Faliks produces a massive sound while retaining its fundamental warmth, giving a true sense of joy to the end of the journey.

New Classics Review

by John Pitt

The Schumann Project, Volume 1

Clara Schumann was an outstanding pianist and composer, as well as a pioneer who had a large impact on the history of music. She was a child prodigy, learning early from her father, Friedrich Wieck, a famous German piano teacher. At the tender age of 13, Clara became one of the first pianists to perform from memory and her influence over a 61-year concert career changed the format and repertoire of the piano recital She also composed a works that include piano concertos, chamber music and choral pieces. Clara was married to and supported an even more famous composer, Robert Schumann, who she first met when she was only eight years old. Together they maintained a close relationship with Johannes Brahms (she was the first to perform publicly many works by Brahms). Ukrainian-born American pianist Inna Faliks is a passionately committed artist who has made a name for herself through poetic and commanding performances of standard piano repertoire, genre-bending interdisciplinary projects and inquisitive work with Contemporary composers. She is Professor of Piano and Head of the Piano Department at UCLA and has performed on many of the world’s great stages, with orchestras, in solo appearances and in highly regarded chamber music groups. As she says in her sleeve notes to this outstanding and thought-provoking CD, ‘Juxtaposing two large scale works by Clara Schumann (née Wieck) and Robert Schumann on a recording will certainly invite comparisons between them; however, my aim in The Schumann Project series is to simply unite, on each album, two or more works by kindred souls. How different the dynamics of this ‘power couple’ of the 19th century might be today if one were to imagine Robert and Clara as equal partners in life.’

Inna Faliks gives a warm and expressive performance of the beautiful Piano Sonata in G minor written by Clara, at the age of 22.  Never performed during her lifetime, it was first published in 1991, so is not well known. Nevertheless, the sonata marked an important early step in her compositional development between her two other larger-scale works, the Piano Concerto in A minor (which Faliks performed with the Chicago Symphony when she was 15 years old) and the Piano Trio in G minor. Robert Schumann’s large-scale Symphonic Études are among his most difficult compositions to perform but Inna Faliks plays this dramatic, powerful music here with tremendous verve and sensitivity, revealing both her mastery of the piano and her deep understanding of the composer’s work. This impressive first volume in The Schumann Project is highly recommended and will leave listeners eager to discover what further insights future releases in the series may bring. ‘Her quiet, breathless opening of the staccato Étude 9, marked Presto possibile, puts Faliks is in a league with some of the greatest pianists to record this work.’ – Fanfare.

  1. La Campanella, Paganini - Liszt Inna Faliks 4:53
  2. Rzewski "The People United Shall Never Be Defeated" (excerpt, improvised cadenza) Inna Faliks 8:36
  3. Beethoven Eroica Variations Inna Faliks 9:59
  4. Gershwin: Prelude 3 in E-flat Minor Inna Faliks 1:25
  5. Mozart Piano Concerto #20 - II Inna Faliks with Chamber Orchestra of St. Matthews 10:27
  6. Gaspard de la Nuit (1908) : Scarbo - Ravel Inna Faliks 9:07
  7. Sirota by Lev 'Ljova' Zhurbin Inna Faliks 7:45