Peninsula Reviews

by Richard Lynde

Inna Faliks began the “Music/Words” series in New York, and with her recent relocation as head of the Herb Alpert Piano Department at UCLA, has continued this unique and memorable practice to our state and county. In Ellen Bass, she could not have picked a better partner. Our poet said that for her this new way of thinking about music is “a conversation.” It began with her quiet reading of “Relax,” about bad things that will happen, such as fungus on tomatoes, cats run over, even a lesbian wife, all stated with a wry humor: like those to follow, what she called “talking poems” meant to be read aloud, something she is very good at. Faliks then took to the keyboard in Schedrin’s (b. 1932) “Basso Ostinato,” a blizzard of sound that was wild, fast, jazzy like Gershwin and reflective of Prokofiev and Stravinsky, a tour de force with underlying humor and perfect control.

Then Ellen Bass read again, this time, “Jazz,” about sending her poems out into the world as if a child, a modern take on our great 17th century American Ann Bradstreet’s own similar feelings. In “Waiting for Rain” she tells how the ancient philosopher Lucretius got her through the night with his idea of atoms “combining” and “recombining” amid the void. “When you return,” magically has eggs going back to shells, “letters unwrite themselves” and diamonds to coal to rotting leaves. Amazing imagery, fresh and immediate.

Next, Inna Faliks played the Mozart (1756-91) “Fantasie in D Minor K. 397,” a brief, intensely moody departure from his sonatas, which she made startling with its shifts between the opening Andante, then Adagio than a Presto played almost too fast to hear, but with perfect accuracy to end the high mini drama. Then, in “If you know,” Bass told of ticket takers touching palms with concert goers, followed by “God’s Grief” with startling images of God, Joan of Arc, Houdini – her words as magical as his magic tricks. In “God in Trouble” a beached whale decomposes, then in “Listening” she imagines having heard Keats read his “Autumn” to a friend. To “words like wine/ I listened with my spine,” both funny and profound.

Then in a brilliant stroke for both performers and audience, Faliks departed from the printed program which had Bass reading between movements of the huge Brahms (1833-97) “Sonata No. 2 in F Sharp Minor,” written and played by the composer in 1853 when he was “only” 20 and full of storm and stress along with tenderness. In the often fiendishly difficult and architecturally perfect four-movement work, played straight through and received with tumultuous applause, the noble work was the best-performed these ears have heard on this mighty Yamaha since Yevgeny Sudbin in a big Scriabin sonata almost two years ago. The Brahms began with a huge attack blaring forth the “allegro, not too fast but with energy.” The “andante with expression” was a stroll with purpose, a meditation that becomes intense and moody, alternating playfulness with severity, then lushness – typical of Brahms, and with Faliks sitting, as usual, with her face right over the keys, as expressive as the notes she was playing. The moving Scherzo was hardly a musical “joke,” but a brief lead up to the “Finale,” played with a gripping intensity, blazing keys played flat-fingered for speed like Horowitz, then a maternal tenderness like the famous Brahms “Lullaby,” coherent in all its many moods, and ending with a big bang. All gave a standing ovation.

Then Bass read three concluding poems, ending with “Reincarnation,” not returning as the “totem of a shaman,” but rather as an OYSTER! Very funny, very apt, very original, like all of her works. Faliks then concluded the intermissionless 110-minute program, which passed as if in a dream, with Liszt’s (1811-86) “La Campanella,” a glittering whimsical bon-bon that left a grateful audience with church bells ringing in our heads.

“…in a brilliant stroke for both performers and audience, Faliks… had [Ellen] Bass reading between movements of the huge Brahms (1833-97) “Sonata No. 2 in F Sharp Minor,” written and played by the composer in 1853 when he was “only” 20 and full of storm and stress along with tenderness. In the often fiendishly difficult and architecturally perfect four-movement work, played straight through and received with tumultuous applause, the noble work was the best-performed these ears have heard on this mighty Yamaha since Yevgeny Sudbin in a big Scriabin sonata almost two years ago. The Brahms began with a huge attack blaring forth the “allegro, not too fast but with energy.” The “andante with expression” was a stroll with purpose, a meditation that becomes intense and moody, alternating playfulness with severity, then lushness – typical of Brahms, and with Faliks sitting, as usual, with her face right over the keys, as expressive as the notes she was playing. The moving Scherzo was hardly a musical “joke,” but a brief lead up to the “Finale,” played with a gripping intensity, blazing keys played flat-fingered for speed like Horowitz, then a maternal tenderness like the famous Brahms “Lullaby,” coherent in all its many moods, and ending with a big bang. All gave a standing ovation.”

Full Review

Coming soon….”Weight in the Fingertips”

Coming soon….”Weight in the Fingertips” , published by Globe Pequot (Backbeat Press), Inna’s long-awaited memoir of her adventures in music.

Pre-order on Amazon

Pre-order on Barnes and Noble

Before she knew she was Ukranian, Soviet, or Jewish, Inna Faliks knew she was a musician. Growing up in the city of Odessa, the piano became her best friend, and she explored the brilliant, intricate puzzles of Bach’s music and learned to compose under her mother’s watchful eye. At ten, Faliks and her parents moved to Chicago as part of the tide of Jewish refugees who fled the USSR for the West in the 1980s. During the months-long immigration process, she would silently practice on kitchen tables while imagining a full set of piano keys beneath her fingertips. In Weight in the Fingertips, Faliks gives a globe-trotting account of her upbringing as a child prodigy in a Soviet state, the perils of immigration, the struggle of assimilating as an American, years of training with teachers, and her slow and steady rise in the world of classical music. With a warm and playful style, she helps non-musicians understand the experience of becoming a world-renowned concert pianist. The places she grew up, the books she read, the poems she memorized as a child all connect to her sound at the piano, and the way she hears and shapes a musical phrase illuminate classical music and elite performance. She also explores how a person’s humanity makes their art honest and their voice unique, and how the life-long challenge of retaining that voice is fueled by a balance between being a great musician and being a human being. Throughout, Faliks provides powerful insights into the role of music in a world of conflict, change, and hope for a better tomorrow.

Review of Reimagine: Beethoven & Ravel performance

by Christopher Axworthy

Review of Reimagine: Beethoven & Ravel performance,
from coverage of Cremona Musica festival

I was heading to hear Inna Faliks in ‘Reimagine Ravel’ , intrigued by the title,having studied myself with Vlado Perlemuter who had been coached by the composer himself for first performances in the ’20’s. It was indeed a fascinating story she had to tell of building bridges past and present, looking to the future.

Reimagine: Beethoven & Ravel — 9 World Premieres finds Inna breaking new ground, paying a respectful homage to source material by Beethoven and Ravel. The album was released by Navona records last June .Featuring nine contemporary composers, including Richard Danielpour, Paola Prestini, Billy Childs, and Timo Andres, who were commissioned to craft responses to Ludwig van Beethoven’s Bagatelles, op. 126 (incidentally, the master’s favorite) as well as Maurice Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit.

The results are exhilarating, not least owing to Faliks’ stunningly precise and sensitive pianistic interpretation: the Ukrainian-born American pianist ties together Classical, Romantic and modern pieces with disarming nonchalance and rock-solid technical skill. Defying the challenge of uniting three centuries of musical styles and social commentary, as well as producing an album during a global pandemic with the help of Yamaha’s Disklavier technology, Reimagine proudly raises a monument not only to the genius of Beethoven and Ravel, but also to the perseverance and verve of some of today’s most exciting and important composers.

[A] fascinating project that saw Paola Prestini inspired by the fluidity of Ondine, the water nymph. This was followed by Timo Andres inspired by Ravel’s depiction of the gallows with a minimal piece of Philip Glass proportions incorporating a quote from Billy Holiday’s Strange Fruit with Afro Americans hanging from the branches of a Becket type tree. Billy Childs’ an Afro American jazz pianist and composer inspired by Scarbo by a black man being chased by the police. Some very fine fully committed playing from Inna Faliks and knowing the background made it a truly fascinating mirror on this very well known suite by Ravel.

It was though her stunning performance of the full original suite that won the day. A ravishing performance of Ondine and a fascinating one of Le Gibet in which her pointed bass notes gave a fluidity and luminosity to the bleak repeated bell. Scarbo too was a revelation for the clarity of detail especially in the left hand figurations and of course her scintillating fearless playing of a piece that Ravel wrote specifically to outdo Islamey for transcendental difficulty.

A fascinating performer.

Boston Musical Intelligencer review

by Stephen Martorella

Fantaisie and Monologue in Newport

“For Faliks, music is about more than just playing it, which she does exquisitely. … Executed most beautifully, gracefully sweeping through its musical landscapes with eloquence, passion, and sensitivity. … Dazzling and scintillating performance. … Her amazing technique is matched by a deep and reverent musicality, passionate and inspiring, living up to her desire to be “more than…” … Inna Faliks is a personality who deserves to be explored and savored over a long period of time.”

 

Los Angeles Times review

by Mark Swed

Commentary: What is Ukrainian music, and what does it say about the war?

The first week of May, I attended four concerts. All four, whether by chance or intent, had a connection with Ukraine. That was obvious the first day of May at a benefit concert for Ukraine put on by the Wende Museum and Jacaranda Music at the Robert Frost Auditorium in Culver City. And while Ukrainian American pianist Inna Faliks’ Ukraine-centric recital several days later at the Wende contained no Ukrainian music, its programmatic theme was “The Master and Margarita,” a novel by the Ukraine-born author Mikhail Bulgakov.

At her Wende recital earlier this month, Faliks premiered Veronika Krausas’ “Master & Margarita” Suite, written for the occasion. In the Russian novel, the devil visits and wreaks marvelous havoc on Soviet Moscow. In her suite of seven sly dances, Krausas, who is a Canadian American Los Angeles composer of Lithuanian heritage, lightly waltzes around and toys with fanciful passages from Bulgakov’s novel. As with Silvestrov, what isn’t there is as intriguing as what is. Each dance is a kind of fantasy, full of musical hints. Crossing borders is, and has always been, the way of music.

 

Spring News

• Inna Faliks’ book, the musical memoir Weight in the Fingertips, will be published in 2023 by Globe Pequot.

• Inna was recently profiled in a Cleveland Classical feature by Jarrett Hoffman titled “The Story of a Pianist” —Ukrainian-born Inna Faliks on her monologue-recital & her home country”.  You can read the article by clicking here.

• More performances on the horizon! Be sure to check the calendar for upcoming dates.

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.

January Radio spots

• On Sunday, January 16 at 8 pm EST, Inna Falik’s performance of Pursuit by Billy Childs will be featured on Modern Notebook on WSMR-FM. Tune in online here.

• Jed Distler devoted an hour-long episode of his award-winning radio program, Between the Keys to Inna Faliks, including an in-depth interview. The program aired on WWFM radio on January 11 and 12, and is available on demand at this link.

• Also on WWFM, Inna Faliks’s extensive, two-part interview with WWFM’s Cadenza host David Osenberg is available on-demand. Listen to Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

  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