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.