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Volume 18 Issue 5 - February 2013

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  • February
  • Toronto
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inaugural Arthur

inaugural Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition,held in Tel Aviv in 1974. Rubinstein, himself, took her under his wingand helped launch her international career. The rest, as they say ...But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. In 2002, Fialkowska’s hugely successfulcareer was sidetracked by the discovery of a cancerous tumourin her left arm. However, her heroic recoveryand successful “two-handed” returnto the stage in 2004 — for 18 months, prior,she performed the “left hand” concertosof Ravel and Prokofiev which she adaptedfor the right hand — is, by now, the stuff oflegend and widely documented, so I won’tgo on. Besides, as she told the FinancialTimes’ Andrew Clark in a January 11,2013 interview, she “hates“ talking aboutthat hiatus in her career, though she recognizesthat it “makes a good story” andthat it inspires others. Clark adds: “Thatsense of life regained has transformed herHung-Kuan Chen.music-making: her playing now has a spirit-of-the-moment freshnessand spontaneity that many musicians strive for but few attain.”That freshness and spontaneity will be on display when Fialkowskagraces the stage at two concerts in February: one on Chopin’s birthday,February 22 (yes, March 1 is also often cited), at London’s Aeolian Hall,and the second a day later, on the 23rd, in Waterloo, for the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society. Both concerts offer works byChopin, Grieg and Schubert; the Aeolian concert, however, is another“works by” situation; the “fleshed-out” repertoire provided by theKWCMS suggests what Fialkowska might also play in London (but noguarantees): Schubert’s Four Impromptus D935, Op.posth.142, fourLyric Pieces by Grieg, and the following works by Chopin: Polonaisein E-Flat Minor, Op.26 No.2, Scherzo No.4 in E Major Op.54, ScherzoNo.1 in B Minor Op.20, Waltz in A-Flat Major, Op.64 No.3, Mazurka inC Major, Op.56 No.2 and Mazurka in C Minor, Op.56 No.3. If I had mydruthers, I’d go to both concerts!Chopin at noon: While Chopin’s sublime, sensuous music may betailor-made for late-night listening, who says you can’t enjoy it duringdaylight hours? This month, as part of its popular free, noonhour Piano Virtuoso Series, the Canadian Opera Company offerstwo concerts featuring piano works by Chopin. For the first one,“Reflections,” on February 26, pianist Connie Kim-Sheng, a 2010/11Glenn Gould School Concerto Competition winner, performs BalladeNo.3 in A-Flat Major, Op.47; the program also includes the first movementof Beethoven’s Sonata No.31 in A-Flat Major, Op.110, Miroirsby Ravel and Rachmaninoff’s Études-Tableaux Op.39 No.5. “Shadesof Chopin,” the second concert on February 28, features a youngSaskatoon-born pianist, Justin Min, in an all-Chopin program, includingthe Sonata No.3 in B Minor, Op.58, his final piano sonata. Perfectlunchtime fare!Études vs. Préludes: One might call it an embarrassment ofriches, when two extraordinary pianists are scheduled to performin recital, on the same day, at basically the same time, with Chopinon both programs, no less. Here’s what’s happening on March 3: at3pm, Jan Lisiecki, the prodigiously gifted, 17-year-old pianist is performingChopin’s two sets of 12 Études, Op. 10 and Op. 25, at theRoyal Conservatory’s Koerner Hall. And over at Walter Hall, at 3:15pm,the brilliant (and clearly more seasoned) Hung-Kuan Chen is makinghis Toronto debut in a performance of the 24 Préludes Op.28, forMooredale Concerts; Chen’s program also includes Mozart’s A LittleGigue in G Major KV574, a fragment from his Suite in C Major KV399,and Schubert’s Sonata in C Minor D958.Jan Lisiecki is known to, and has dazzled, Toronto audiences; he’salso been featured in the pages of The WholeNote and in video interviewat Conversations@TheWholeNote.com. Hung-Kuan Chen, on the otherhand, is new to The WholeNote, so a few more words are warranted.Taipei-born and raised in Germany, Chen shares more than onething in common with Janina Fialkowska: both were prize winnersof the Rubinstein Piano Master Competition (he in 1983) and both,curiously, experienced serious damage to the tools of their trade anda remarkable recovery from the damage. Chen suffered an injury toJulian Faugère16 thewholenote.com February 1 – March 7, 2013

his right hand in 1992,that caused neurologicaldamage, resulting, eventually,in focal dystonia, adisorder consisting of confusedmotor commands.In an article Chen penned,he describes the disorder:“When the brain is sendingoverly complex andconflicting messages, thecommands are conflictingand the fingers becomestiff in the process. A fittingvisual analogy wouldbe the old style telephoneswitchboard with tangled-upwires.” Read moreabout Chen’s journey atfocaldystonia.co.uk/#/piano/4563030880.Like Fialkowska’s, Chen’sreturn to the stage, in1998, was met with raveJanina Fialkowska.reviews and he has goneon to a celebrated career.A reviewer for the Boston Globe had this to say in 2006: “Hung-KuanChen is back in prime technical form ... This man plays music withuncommon understanding and the instrument with uncommonimagination.”And it is our uncommon good fortune to have the choicebetween Lisiecki and Chen. Perhaps it will all come down to étudesvs. préludes.A LITTLE MORE LOVE and ROMANCE:SOME Heart-WARMING Quick PICks!!Feb 01 8:00: Aurora Culture Centre. Great Artist Piano Series:Chu-Fang Huang, piano. Haydn, Chopin, Wanghua Chu and others.!!Feb 07 8:00: Toronto Masque Theatre. Les Roses de la Vie: AParisian Soirée. Music by Marais, Couperin, Chopin, Fauré, Debussy,Poulenc, Aznavour and others. Also Feb 8 and 9.!!Feb 12 8:00: Music Toronto. Piano Series: Gabriela Montero, piano.Brahms: Three Intermezzos Op.117; Schumann: Fantasie in C Op.17;Montero: improvisations.!!Feb 14 8:00: Hart House Orchestra. Violins and Valentine’s Day:A Perfect Match. Schumann: Second Symphony; Beethoven: KingStephen Overture; Copland: Clarinet Concerto.!!Feb 14 8:00: LUSH Cello Quartet. An Evening with LUSH CelloQuartet. Love-themed songs and classical works.!!Feb 14 8:00: Toronto Concert Orchestra. Love Notes. Tchaikovsky:Violin Concerto; Saint Saëns: Suite in D; Gray: Introduction andAutumn Prelude. Christoph Seybold, violin; Kerry Stratton, conductor.!!Feb 16 8:00: Kindred Spirits Orchestra. Beethoven, Schumann,Mendelssohn. Beethoven: Overture to Fidelio Op.72c; Schumann:Piano Concerto Op.54; Mendelssohn: Symphony No.3 Op.56 “Scottish.”!!Feb 16 8:00: York Symphony Orchestra. Romantic Legends.Tchaikovsky: Polonaise from Eugene Onegin; Romeo and JulietOverture; Capriccio Italien; Chopin: Piano Concerto No.1; also Feb 17.!!Feb 19 8:00: Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Love Will Keep UsTogether. Songs by Porter, Berlin, Mancini and others. Betsy Wolfe,soprano; Mike Eldred, tenor; Steven Reineke, conductor. Also Feb 20(mat and eve).!!Feb 24 5:00: Nocturnes in the City. Anna Betka, Piano. Works byBeethoven, Bach, Schumann, Prokofiev and Smetana.May your hearts be warmed and your senses seduced. Enjoy!Sharna Searle trained as a musician and lawyer, practised a lotmore piano than law and is listings editor at The WholeNote.She can be contacted at classicalbeyond@thewholenote.com.February 1 – March 7, 2013 thewholenote.com 17

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