Polonaise-fantaisie: The Story of a Pianist is the hybrid of a piano recital and an autobiographical monologue, and Inna considers it the most personal project she has ever done. She says: “It is my hope that, in sharing this story, I offer audiences a glimpse into a life of a performing musician, as well as into my very personal story – the story that makes me the artist I am today.”
Polonaise-Fantaisie: The Story of a Pianist, is both a live performance, available for booking, as well as an album on the Delos label, released in 2017. It has been performed at locations throughout the US and abroad. For the live performance, Ms. Faliks reads the text and plays piano as well. The program for the live performance varies slightly from the repertoire on the album.
When Faliks was pregnant with her son Nathaniel, she started writing down vivid memories of her childhood in Odessa, the former Soviet Union, and of immigration to the US. Gradually, these started to take the shape of a book about a life in music. At that time, she was living in New York City, performing, and curating her series, Music/Words, where poets read between musical performances. “Poetry inspired me for as long as I can remember, and influenced my first CD (Sound of Verse, MSR Classics.) I hadn’t written in years. It was profoundly satisfying to be writing once again.”
A few years later, after Faliks had moved to Los Angeles to head the piano department at UCLA, the chapters of the book found their way into the hands of Cynthia Comsky, an incredible producer and magnificent lady. She insisted that Faliks use them to create a recital-monologue. Many memories described in the book had musical pieces inexorably connected to them. Inna chose pieces that had been with her since childhood, as well as those that found their way into her repertoire, along her path, to connect and illuminate the narrative. The format, play-read-play-read, echoes the format of her Music/Words programs, where the poems and the music create an arc that is, hopefully, emotionally resonant. Cameron Watson, a brilliant director, directed Faliks and wonderful actress Rebecca Mozo, in a performance of the work at the Ebell of Los Angeles, in 2015, just a few months after Inna’s daughter Frida was born.
Faliks says “I know that I am the artist that I am partially thanks to growing up in the Odessa of the past – seven people in a three-room apartment, surrounded by books, music, ideas and friends (one of whom is Misha. You will meet him in the story. He is my husband and the father of my two children).”
She continues: “I dedicate the recording to my family: my parents, Irene and Simon Faliks, who were brave enough to leave when they did. My husband and best friend, then and now, Misha Shpigelmacher. My two children, Nathaniel and Frida Shpigelmacher, as well as to anyone who has ever left a place in search of a better life.”
Rodion Shchedrin: Basso Ostinato
J.S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in G-sharp Minor, The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book
Jan Freidlin: Ballade in Black and White
W.A. Mozart: Fantasia in D Minor, K 397
Chopin-Liszt: The Maiden’s Wish
Paganini-Liszt: La Campanella
Frédéric Chopin: Polonaise-fantaisie, Op. 61
George Gershwin: Prelude 1 in B- at Major*
Gershwin: Prelude 2 in C-sharp Minor*
Gershwin: Prelude 3 in E- at Minor*
Elliot Carter: Retrouvailles*
P. I. Tchaikovsky: Nocturne in C-sharp Minor*
Harrison Birtwistle: Oockooing Bird*
*Not included in live performance; instead Beethoven’s Six Bagatelles are played.