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.

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.

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.

Textura Review

by Ron Schepper

Reimagine: Beethoven & Ravel

With [this solo piano release], Inna Faliks shows herself to be both extraordinary musician and inspired conceptualist.

Enhancing the impact of the recording, the six bagatelles appear alongside the compositions they inspired.
Collectively, the results are stunning, for both Faliks’ impeccable execution of the material and the sensitivity she demonstrates in her interpretations.

Faliks gives eloquent voice to the material, and her assured command of tempo and phrasing makes listening to her all the more rewarding. Reimagine succeeds on multiple levels.

Take Effect Review

by Tom Haugen

Reimagine: Beethoven & Ravel

The piano genius Inna Faliks turns in an incredible interpretation of Beethoven and Ravel with Reimagine, where she brings ingenuity to classic compositions while still keeping the integrity of the originals intact. […] Faliks displays incredible flexibility.

“Variations On A Spell”[…] twinkles with a meticulous manipulation of keys as Faliks offers a dreamy, absorbing landscape.

Nine modern day composers were brought in for this effort, including Richard Danielpour, Billy Childs and Timo Andres, to name a few, and together with Faliks’ technical prowess, they offer us Classical, Romantic and contemporary pieces that breathe new life into already exceptional music.

Gramophone Review

by Guy Rickards

Reimagine: Beethoven & Ravel

This album is, quite simply put, a real surprise. Not just for the fine playing of Inna Faliks or her imaginative programming, but for the quality of the nine new works that reimagine collectively the two pianistic classics at the heart of the programme.

Each [of the responses to Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit] is a substantial, independent concert work in its own right. […] Billy Childs’s Pursuit is a ‘Scarbo’ for the 21st century, tailored to Inna Faliks’s cultured pianism. […] Impressive.

Lucid Culture Review: “A Fascinating Collection of New Piano Music and the Beethoven and Ravel That Inspired It”

From Lucid Culture, June 12, 2021 also in New York Music Daily

Pianist Inna Faliks excels particularly at innovative and interesting programming, whether live or on album. On her latest release, Reimagine – streaming at youtube – she’s commissioned a fascinating mix of contemporary composers to write their own relatively short pieces inspired by, and interspersed among, Beethoven’s Bagatelles, Op. 126. She also includes a handful of new works drawing on Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit. It’s a big success on both a curatorial and interpretive level.

With the Beethoven, Faliks is typically understated, yet finds interesting places for flash. In the first Bagatelle, she employs very subtle rubato and a jaunty outro. She gives the etude-like No. 2 a light-fingered staccato, then brings the brings ornamentation front and center in No. 3, a counterintuitive move. In No. 4, she shows off a calm precision and nimble command of how artfully phrases are handed off – along with the jokes in the lefthand.

No. 5 is very cantabile, yet almost furtive in places. And Faliks approaches No. 6 with coy staccato but a remarkably steadfast, refusenik sensibility against any kind of beery exuberance.

In the first of the new pieces, Peter Golub‘s response to Bagatelle No. 1, ragtime tinges give way to acidic, atonal cascades and a bit of a coy tiptoeing theme. Tamir Hendelman‘s variation on No. 2 has Faliks scampering slowly, coalescing out of a rather enigmatic melody through a bit of darkness to a triumphant coda.

Richard Danielpour‘s Childhood Nightmare, after No. 3 is the album’s piece de resistance and the closest thing here to the original, steadily and carefully shifting into more menacing tonalties. Ian Krouse’s Etude 2A, inspired by No. 4 is also a standout, with spare, moody modal resonance and a racewalking staccato alternating with scurrying passages.

Arguably the most lyrical of the new pieces here, Mark Carlson‘s Sweet Nothings is a slowly crescendoing, fond but ultimately bittersweet nocturne built around steady lefthand arpeggios. In David Lefkowitz‘s take on No. 6, after an intro that seems practically a parody, Faliks works a subdued, swaying 12/8 rhythm amid murky resonances.

Next up are the Ravel-inspired works. Paola Prestini’s neoromantically-tinged triptych Ondine: Variations on a Spell begins with the broodingly impressionistic low-midrange Water Sprite, followed by the Bell Tolls, with a long upward drive from nebulosity to an anthemic, glistening payoff. The finale, Golden Bees follows a series of anthemic, flickering cascades

The album’s longest work is Timo Andres‘ Old Ground, an attempt to give subjectivity to the unfortunate victim of the hanging in the gibbet scene via distantly ominous, Philip Glass-ine clustering phrases and eventually a fugal interlude with echoes of both gospel and Rodgers and Hammerstein. Faliks winds up the record with Billy Childs‘ Pursuit, using the Scarbo interlude as a stepping-off point for an allusively grim narrative where a black man is being chased: possibly by the Klan, or a slaver, or the cops. A steady, lickety-split theme contrasts with still, spare wariness and a stern chordal sequence straight out of late Rachmaninoff.

Cinemusical Review

by Steven A. Kennedy

Reimagine: Beethoven and Ravel

“[Works by Prestini, Andres, and Childs] provide some windows into Faliks’ technical virtuosity, … [highlighting] her interpretive, lyrical playing well.  This ample collection of pieces gives listeners a good appreciation of her skills.

Faliks performances are solid here and the works make extensive exploration of the rich sound of the piano which is captured well in this release.  These re-imaginings make a fine introduction to Faliks’ programming approaches and the Beethoven performances should stand well against any others.”

Full Review

  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