The following is an excerpt from Keyed In (September 2015) which can be read in its entirety here.
Janina Fialkowska takes a very different approach in Grieg – Lyric Pieces (ATMA Classique ACD2 2696). One searches in vain for some Eastern philosophical term to describe her artistic posture. The effect is, however, one of perfect calm, where no statement is rushed and there is no need to say anything until the music is ready. Her expression at the keyboard hints at understatement and reservation yet never lacks in rubato or dynamic expression. She plays with a subtle containment that is entirely satisfying even if we never hear the piano rattle mechanically under a maniacal fortissimo. Her opening track Arietta reflects this standard as does Sylph, and she never wavers from it.
Norwegian Dance sustains an entrancing left-hand drone while her right hand, with complete independence, plays out the folk tune. Brooklet is an example of brilliant, articulate playing which she carries even further in Puck for a memorable impish, elfish effect. She underscores Grieg’s German musical education in At Your Feet, reminding us of how Brahmsian this piece can sound. Finally, her March of the Trolls is completely unlike either the Hough or Perianes performance. Fialkowska takes the piece at a slower, more march-like pace. She also leaves plenty of breathing space around the beautiful central theme of the slow section. Fialkowska’s Lyric Pieces are very different and uniquely hers.