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

The Future of Classical Music is Chinese

Inna’s new op-ed with the Washington Post highlights her recent concert tour and visiting professorship in China:

“But as I looked at the line of young pianists, I thought that I stood face-to-face not with the past, but with the future of classical music.

I found the passion, drive and work ethic of Chinese music students staggering. And the dedication from the audiences was evident, as every seat — regardless of the city — was always taken. Reverence for Beethoven, Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Schumann seems to have no connection to any economic or political agenda.”

Read the full article here.

Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Scriabin with Inna Faliks

Close Encounters With Music’s new article features a Q & A with Inna, highlighting her March 23rd performance at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, MA.

Q.  You are often called an “adventurous” artist. What does it take to be adventurous in an age when everything has been tried and heard?
A.  I think being adventurous has to be in the personality of the performer. If one is trying hard to be adventurous, the result can come out forced, inorganic. I just am who I am, I think. I know I am passionate about music, about people, about art and sharing the art and having a large well of emotions and experiences to draw from. I think that communicating the essence of the music to the audience makes the music relevant, and to me, communication is the most important part of a performance. 
Read the full article here.

Culture Spot LA Reviews February Mahler Performance in Santa Monica

Culture Spot LA reviews Inna’s February 2019 performance at Jacaranda Music in Santa Monica of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony in a piano four-hands arrangement, together with pianist Daniel Schlosberg:

“…a decidedly pianistic performance, with beautifully executed trills, judicious pedaling and richly shaded textures. If not supplanting the orchestral original, Zemlinsky’s version as played by Faliks and Schlosberg was a valuable opportunity to peer beneath the symphony’s instrumental garb and hear the symphony’s fascinating inner workings…”

FULL REVIEW

Pianist Tells of North Shore Roots in Musical Monologue

Myrna Petlicki of The Chicago Tribune highlights Inna’s upcoming Chicago premiere of Polonaise Fantaisie: The Story of a Pianist at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Hall:

“Acclaimed pianist Inna Faliks says presenting her “Polonaise Fantaisie: The Story of a Pianist” at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Hall in Evanston feels like a homecoming.

“It’s absolutely the most perfect place to do it,” Faliks said. “So much of the show is about the Music Institute.'”

Read the full article here.

Pianist Inna Faliks Presents a Musical Memoir at Symphony Space

Catherine Yang of The Epoch Times previews Inna’s performance of Polonaise Fantaisie: Story of a Pianist at Symphony Space:

“Music is meant to be a living thing, according to pianist Inna Faliks. It is the musician’s role to breathe life into the notes on the page, and every time the music is given life, it is a different being.

…Polonaise Fantaisie: Story of a Pianist has been performed across the country and on radio for eight seasons. On Oct. 13, at Symphony Space in New York, Faliks will present a piano recital interspersed with autobiographical monologues to tell the moving tale of how she became the artist she is today.”

Read the full article here.

Colorado Boulevard

by CP Wren

Guest pianist, Inna Faliks, and members of the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, violinist Roberto Cani and cellist John Walz took the stage and deftly swooped Barrett Hall into an intensely animated and tension filled performance. Inna Faliks plays with a kind of expression one could imagine of a highly accomplished jazz artist. But this was chamber music. She entertained with humor, delivering a rollicking performance using her expressive facial gestures and playful spacial flourishes above the keys. With her tautly moving, driving force, she balanced the hall on tiptoe, her antics often directed at violinist Cani, who played the “straight man” throughout the spiraling progression of Piano Trio No. 1.

Full Review

LA Opus

by David J. Brown

Ferocious and torrential, firmly establish[ing] her virtuoso credentials. Her playing [is] engagingly impulsive and improvisatory, skillfully observing turn-on-a-dime contrasts. [Faliks’s fingers are] positively diamond-tipped.

Full Review

A “Fresh Approach” to Schumann

Inna’s guest appearance last weekend with the Miami Symphony Orchestra drew a rave review from the South Florida Classical Review. Here’s what Lawrence Budmen wrote:

An associate professor of piano at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, Faliks is a well traveled soloist who will hopefully schedule more stops in South Florida. On Sunday she proved to be an interesting and musically imaginative artist. From the opening bars of the Schumann concerto, Faliks bent the musical line, coloring her phrases with subtle rubato. She brought plenty of power to the keyboard-spanning runs and octaves. Her pearly tone and poetic bent suggested a more Chopinesque approach.

In the second movement Intermezzo, Faliks’ winning combination of whimsy and heart-on-sleeve fervor turned the short opening figures into a burst of pianistic song. The Allegro vivace finale was replete with bold syncopations but Faliks’ elegant and impulsive shaping of thematic lines was always cleanly articulated. Her lighter approach to the score was musically engrossing and refreshing. Marturet and the orchestra provided full bodied support with the deep tone of the cellos in the secondary subject of the Intermezzo movement particularly distinguished.

A standing ovation brought Faliks back for Liszt’s La Campanella as an encore. She deftly traced the melodic curves of the familiar theme and drew a bell-like sound.

Read the full review here: “Pianist Inna Faliks reinvigorates a Schumann standby”

  1. Rzewski "The People United Shall Never Be Defeated" (excerpt, improvised cadenza) Inna Faliks 8:36
  2. Mozart Piano Concerto #20 - I Inna Faliks with Chamber Orchestra of St. Matthews 15:12
  3. Mozart Piano Concerto #20 - II Inna Faliks with Chamber Orchestra of St. Matthews 10:27
  4. Mozart Piano Concerto #20 - III Inna Faliks with Chamber Orchestra of St. Matthews 8:26