Sunday, July 14, 2024

Article and reviews about CMNW's Young Artist Institute in Oregon ArtsWatch

My latest story for Oregon ArtsWatch tells about Chamber Music Northwest's impressive Young Artists Institute and gives brief reviews of their concerts. You can find the article here.

Today's Birthdays

Gerald Finzi (1901-1956)
Woody Guthrie (1912-1967)
Piero Bellugi (1924-2012)
Eric Stokes (1930-1999)
Unsuk Chin (1961)


James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)
Owen Wister (1860-1938)
Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)
Frank Raymond Leavis (1895-1978)
Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902-1991)
Irving Stone (1903-1989)
Natalia Ginzburg (1916-1991)
Arthur Laurents (1917-2011)

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Today's Birthdays

Sir Reginald Goodall (1905-1990)
Carlo Bergonzi (1924-2014)
Jeanne Loriod (1928-2001)
Per Nørgård (1932)
Albert Ayler (1936-1970)
Jennifer Smith (1945)


John Clare (1793-1864)
Isaak Babel (1894-1941)

Friday, July 12, 2024

Today's Birthdays

Anton Arensky (1861-1906)
George Butterworth (1885-1916)
Kirsten Flagstad (1895-1962)
Oscar Hammerstein II (1895-1960)
Van Cliburn (1934-2013)
Richard Stolzman (1942)
Roger Vignoles (1943)


Julius Caesar (100 BC - 44 BC)
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
George Eastman (1854-1932)
Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920)
Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Today's Birthdays

Antônio Carlos Gomes (1836-1896)
Liza Lehmann (1862-1918)
Nicolai Gedda (1925-2017)
Herbert Blomstedt (1927)
Hermann Prey (1929-1998)
Francis Bayer (1938-2004)
Liona Boyd (1949)
Suzanne Vega (1960)
Aisslinn Nosky (1978)


James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)
E. B. White (1899-1985)
Harold Bloom (1930-2019)
Jhumpa Lahiri (1967)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1798, in the nation's capital of Philadelphia, President John Adams signed an Act of Congress establishing the United States Marine Band. (The original "32 drummers and fifers" assisted in recruiting and entertained residents.)

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Review of CMNW concert published in Oregon ArtsWatch

Chamber Music Northwest's Summer Festival is underway. Oregon ArtsWatch has posted my take on a concert from last week. I hope that you enjoy reading it.


Today's Birthdays

Henri Weiniawski (1835-1880)
Carl Orff (1895-1982)
Ljuba Welitsch (193-1996)
Ian Wallace (1919-2009)
Josephine Veasey (1930-2022)
Jerry Herman (1931-2019)
Arlo Guthrie (1947)
Graham Johnson (1950)
Béla Fleck (1958)


John Calvin (1509-1564)
Nikola Tesla (1856-1943)
Marcel Proust (1871-1922)
Saul Bellow (1915-2005)
Alice Munro (1931-2024)

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Today's Birthdays

Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936)
Dame Elizabeth Lutyens (1906-1983)
David Diamond (1915-2005)
David Zinman (1936)
Paul Chihara (1938)
John Mark Ainsley (1963)


Ann Radcliffe (1764-1823)
Dorothy Thompson (1893-1961)
Oliver Sacks (1933-2015)
David Hockney (1937)
Dean Koontz (1945)

Monday, July 8, 2024

Talking with Janina Fialkowska about her upcoming recital in Portland

Legendary Canadian pianist Janina Fialkowska will appear this Saturday (July 13) at the PCC Performing Arts Center – Sylvania Campus in a recital that is jointly sponsored jointly by Portland Piano International and the Oregon Music Teachers Association as part of their annual conference. Fialkowska’s 50-year career has encompassed concert halls around the world, thirty albums, and numerous awards, including BBC Music Magazine’s 2013 “Instrumental CD of the Year" award, Canada’s "Juno Award" in 2018, and the “Governor General’s 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award in Classical Music.”

Originally from Montreal, Fialkowska has resided near Augsburg, Germany since 2001. She played in Portland a few ago and performed here many times in the 1980s and 90s, appearing several times with the Oregon Symphony under James DePreist.

Fialkowska’s remarkable life, which includes a remarkable comeback from radiation and surgery in 2001, is covered in her memoir, “A Note in Time,” (Novum Publishing, 2021), which received excellent reviews, including this one in Classical Voice North America.

For her Portland recital, Fialkowski will perform works by Carl Maria von Weber, Edvard Grieg, Robert Schumann, and Frédéric Chopin. To find out more, I talked with her via a Zoom call from her home near Augsburg.

James Bash: Tell us how you put this recital program together.

Janina Fialkowska: My old mentor Arthur Rubinstein said that you have to create a recital program like you create a menu. You start off with the hors d'oeuvre. So that’s Weber’s “Invitation to the Dance,” which is a sparkling and wonderful appetizer. Then for a little sorbet between courses, I will play a few delightful selections from Grieg. I always love playing Grieg on my programs because he is not appreciated enough. The main course, meat and potatoes so to speak, is Schumann’s “Fantasiestücke.” That’s one of my very favorite Schumann pieces ever. I love to play it. The second half features Chopin. I always include Chopin in my programs.

Now that I’m in my extraordinarily advanced years, I can choose what I want to play. These are pieces that I love. I’m older, so my repertoire is somewhat reduced. I don’t play the super-flashy things that I used to play. What the audience will get is beautiful melodies and lots of excitement. I’ve done this program here in Germany, and it works really well.

JB: Was Grieg influenced by Schumann?

JF: Yes, Grieg was extremely devoted to Schumann. Schumann was a big influence.

One of the incredible things about Grieg is that you play a few bars of his music, and you immediately feel as if you’ve been to Norway, even if you have never travelled there. It’s not necessarily the folk melodies that he might use. It is something else. Like when you hear Ravel, you immediately think of Paris.

JB: Did Schumann and Chopin know each other?

JF: Yes, they did. One of the very first people outside of Poland who recognized Chopin’s genius was Schumann. Schumann wrote about Chopin in his music magazine: “Hat’s off gentlemen; a genius!” He admired Chopin greatly and dedicated some pieces to him. Chopin dedicated his Second Ballad, which is on the program, to Schumann

Chopin was less enthusiastic about Schumann. Even though Chopin’s music was part of the Romantic movement. He was a very reserved gentleman. He did not wear his heart on his sleeve in his compositions. That was unlike Schumann. Everything Schumann wrote had something to do with himself, his mental condition, and his love for his wife. Chopin’s music is Romantic but distant. Chopin’s favorite composers were Mozart and Bach rather than his contemporaries.

JB: How does a talented young pianist make a career these days?

JF: The piano world has changed. Nowadays it is almost impossible to make a career big enough to support yourself. You want to see young people succeed but there is only five or six who make it big time, and they are almost like pop stars. There are those that win a competition but they have to find a jab at university or a conservatory.

Angela Hewett and I are two of the few who have made careers just by playing concerts. Of course, I teach master classes and such, but mainly I play concerts. I think that it was Bartók who said competitions are a race, but I am not a racehorse. I agree with him, but how else will young people be heard. In competitions there’s a jury made up of distinguished and influential people. So there’s a chance that even if a pianist doesn’t win the competition, one of these people will be impressed with their playing and will help them. I strongly believe that when we believe in a young talent, we should help them because they will not be able to make their way otherwise

Right now, there are more wonderful young pianists than ever. When I was young and in competitions, there were never more than three Russian candidates, because they weren’t allowed to travel outside the USSR. And an Asian pianist was somewhat of a rarity. Now Asian candidates dominate competitions, which is wonderful. The more the merrier!

JB: I watched an interview with you that was posted on YouTube. At one point in your life, you did eighteen different piano concertos in one year. That must have been nuts!

JL: It was madness. Never again!

JB: Best wishes to you for your upcoming recital!

JL: Thanks, it will be my pleasure to play these wonderful works!

Today's Birthdays

Percy Grainger (1882-1961)
George Antheil (1900-1959)
Billy Eckstine (1914-1993)
Susan Chilcott (1963-2003)
Raffi Cavoukian (1948)
Zhou Long (1953)


Philip Johnson (1906-2005)
J. F. Powers (1917-1999)
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (1926-2004)
Janet Malcolm (1934)
Anna Quindlen (1953)