Reimagine

9 World Premieres

Inna Faliks piano

Release Date: June 11, 2021
Catalog #: NV6352
Format: Digital & Physical
21st Century
Classical
Solo Instrumental
Piano

Acclaimed pianist Inna Faliks breaks new ground with REIMAGINE on Navona Records, an homage to Beethoven and Ravel which manages to do the impossible: be breathtakingly innovative while remaining respectful to the source material.

Nine contemporary composers, including Richard Danielpour, Paola Prestini, Billy Childs, and Timo Andres, 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’s 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.

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Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Bagatelle (After Beethoven's Op. 126 No. 1) Peter Golub (b.1952) Inna Faliks, piano 2:31
02 6 Bagatelles, Op. 126: No. 1, Andante con moto, cantabile e con piacevole Ludwig Van Beethoven Inna Faliks, piano 2:39
03 Bagatelle (After Beethoven's Op. 126 No. 2) Tamir Hendelman (b.1971) Inna Faliks, piano 3:28
04 6 Bagatelles, Op. 126: No. 2, Allegro Ludwig Van Beethoven Inna Faliks, piano 2:41
05 Bagatelles: No. 1, Childhood Nightmare (After Beethoven's Op. 126 No. 3) Richard Danielpour (b.1956) Inna Faliks, piano 3:47
06 6 Bagatelles, Op. 126: No. 3, Andante, cantabile ed espressivo Ludwig Van Beethoven Inna Faliks, piano 2:18
07 Etude No. 2a, "Ad fugam" on a Non-Octave-Replicating Mode (After Beethoven's Op. 126 No. 4) Ian Krouse (b.1956) Inna Faliks, piano 5:12
08 6 Bagatelles, Op. 126: No. 4, Presto Ludwig Van Beethoven Inna Faliks, piano 3:59
09 Sweet Nothings (After Beethoven's Op. 126 No. 5) Mark Carlson (b.1952) Inna Faliks, piano 3:54
10 6 Bagatelles, Op. 126: No. 5, Quasi allegretto Ludwig Van Beethoven Inna Faliks, piano 2:26
11 Bagatelle (After Beethoven's Op. 126 No. 6) David Lefkowitz (b.1964) Inna Faliks, piano 4:29
12 6 Bagatelles, Op. 126: No. 6, Presto - Andante amabile e con moto Ludwig Van Beethoven Inna Faliks, piano 4:46
13 Variations on a Spell: I. Water Sprite (After Ravel's "Ondine, M. 55") Paola Prestini (b.1975) Inna Faliks, piano 4:35
14 Variations on a Spell: II. Bell Tolls - Golden Bees (After Ravel's "Ondine, M. 55") Paola Prestini (b.1975) Inna Faliks, piano 6:14
15 Old Ground (After Ravel's "Le gibet, M. 55") Timo Andres (b.1985) Inna Faliks, piano 15:31
16 Pursuit (After Ravel's "Scarbo, M. 55") Billy Childs (b.1957) Inna Faliks, piano 8:10

Tracks 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 15 and 16 composed for Inna Faliks

Recorded September-November 2020 at Ostin Music Center’s Recording Studio, UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in Los Angeles CA, and at Yamaha Artist Services in New York NY

Recording Engineer Jose Carillo (Los Angeles CA)
Midi Editing Engineer Aaron Ross (New York NY)
Audio engineer & Producer Joseph Patrych (New York NY)

Premieres supported in part by Yamaha Artist Services and UCLA Davise Fund
Piano Yamaha DCFX

Music commissioned with generous grants from UCLA Davise Fund and Yamaha Artist Services

Photo (cover) Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

General Manager of Audio & Sessions Jan Košulič
Recording Sessions Director Levi Brown
Audio Director Lucas Paquette

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw
A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Quinton Blue

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Patrick Niland, Sara Warner

Artist Information

Inna Faliks

Pianist

“Adventurous and passionate,” (The New Yorker) Ukrainian-born American pianist Inna Faliks has made a name for herself through her commanding performances of standard piano repertoire as well genre-bending interdisciplinary projects, and inquisitive work with contemporary composers. After her acclaimed teenage debuts at the Gilmore Festival and with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, she has performed on many of the world’s great stages, with numerous orchestras and in solo appearances. Faliks is currently Professor of Piano and Head of Piano at UCLA. Critics praise her “courage to take risks, expressive intensity and technical perfection” (General Anzeiger, Bonn), “remarkable insight” (Audiophile Audition),“poetry and panoramic vision” (Washington Post), “riveting passion, playfulness” (Baltimore Sun), and “signature blend of lithe grace and raw power” (Lucid Culture).

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Notes

In 2017, I curated a piano festival called “Dialogues” at UCLA. During this festival, students and faculty performed new works that responded to music of the past. I have been drawn to this “response” genre since premiering the complete 13 Ways of Looking at the Goldberg, responses to Bach’s Aria. This work was written for Gilbert Kalish, one of my teachers, and I am deeply grateful to him for introducing me not only to the piece but to the “response” idea. I am drawn to it because it creates a bridge between the past and the present, illuminating the canon of piano repertoire while opening the stage to bright new voices.

For the festival, I asked six composers from the UCLA faculty—Peter Golub, Tamir Hendelman, Richard Danielpour, Ian Krouse, Mark Carlson, and David Lefkowitz—to respond to 6 Bagatelles Opus 126, the last work Beethoven wrote for the piano. This group of six pieces fascinates me with its childlike wonder, wit, moodiness, charm, rhythmic energy, transcendence, and experimentation. The responses are tumultuously contrapuntal, multilayered, humorously whimsical, jazzy, sweetly sensuous, and dark. Interspersing the new Bagatelles with the original felt like the most organic way to present them in performance and in this recording. I hope that the emerging dialogue between then and now highlights the unique character of the original while forming a wholly new sonic adventure.

Wanting to enlarge the scope of the project, I turned to an iconic triptych of the piano repertoire—Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit (“Ondine,” “Le Gibet,” and “Scarbo”), a work that I recorded in 2008 and have frequently performed. Like the Beethoven Bagatelles, Ravel’s masterpiece is richly experimental and full of sonic contrasts and innovative effects. The original is itself a response to the poetry of Aloysius Bertrand; it was interesting to continue the chain of responses to the evocative subjects: Ondine, the sensuous water nymph, Gibet, the hypnotic, almost minimalistic gallows, and the diabolical, virtuosic imp Scarbo. It is considered one of the most pianistically challenging works in the repertoire, and I wanted responses that would be challenging and rich, as well. With the help of Yamaha Artist Services and UCLA’s Davise Fund, I turned to three composers—Paola Prestini, Timo Andres, and Billy Childs—who, I felt, would respond powerfully to the individual qualities in each of the Ravel pieces. The resulting pieces stand on their own as powerful additions to the piano repertoire. While responding to and elaborating on qualities singular to Ravel, they can be performed as individual works or a coherent suite.

I am humbled and grateful to these nine brilliant composers who have responded with such passion and dedication to these great works from the piano repertoire.

The recording was completed during the challenging time of the 2019-2020 COVID pandemic quarantine. Postponing initial sessions from March 2020, when the quarantine began, to September 2020, I went ahead to continue the project in the only physically-possible manner available to us. I recorded the music, both audio and MIDI versions, at UCLA, with the Disklavier Yamaha DCFX concert grand, while alone in the studio. Then, the MIDI files were edited over many Zoom hours, with me in LA and Aaron Ross at Yamaha Artist Services in NYC, and rerecorded in NYC with the help of my audio engineer, producer, and longtime friend Joseph Patrych. The resulting performance is a combination of MIDI and audio recordings, and many hours of cross-country Zoom calls. This complex, multi-layered response project came to be, despite the pandemic. It was deeply gratifying to musically and spiritually connect with so many, during a most lonesome and precarious time in our history. I am grateful to every person who has made this project possible.

— Inna Faliks, Feb 2021

Writing the first piece of a set and not knowing what’s coming after is a little like leading an expedition without a map. So, knowing that the composers following me would be having intimate relations with their own Bagatelle, I decided to lead the way by weaving in and out of Beethoven’s first piece. This way there would be some likelihood that material I made use of would recur and resonate later in the set. I was especially interested in Beethoven’s use of what at first seem like odd phrase structures and truncated cadences but that are really moments distilled to an essence, simplicity that hides complexity. This is how I hear this remarkable set; I tried to capture that in my homage while providing a springboard for the pieces to follow.

— Peter Golub

In my response to Beethoven’s second Bagatelle, I tried to tap into its miniature musical journey of contrasts: a humming, buzzing, whirling energy alternating with lyrical phrases. I love how Beethoven alternates short, questioning phrases with extended, searching answers. And so I began a simple, short four-note motif that gains momentum like a spinning top, winding in and out of Beethoven’s harmonic world before taking a short respite. I then let my fingers explore a more freely-improvised and languid turn on the melodies that have been presented along the way. Finally, the song climbs upwards until a quick echo of the theme returns and the momentum picks up again for one final spin.

— Tamir Hendelman

This Bagatelle belongs to two sets. I composed it as a response, for Inna Faliks, to Beethoven’s third Bagatelle Opus 126, and have decided to include it in my own cycle of 11 Bagatelles that are, in a sense, my “Scenes From Childhood.” This Beethoven response is a “childhood nightmare,” which, while owing something to the beginning of the third Bagatelle of Beethoven’s Opus 126, evolves into something considerably darker.

— Richard Danielpour

My response to Beethoven’s Bagatelle, Opus 126, No. 4 in B-minor, was to compose an etude. The aspects of Beethoven’s piece that struck me immediately were its extreme speed, and its odd form (ABAB), in which the two sections have almost nothing to do with each other except for a shared tonic and a common tempo.  Although my piece is not ‘tonal’ in any traditional sense, the non-octave-replicating mode upon which it is based does allow for tonal regions, enabling me to map my piece to the two most important tonal regions in Beethoven’s Bagatelle, notably G-major in addition to the home tonality of B. Notwithstanding, the listener who is familiar with the Beethoven may hear several important rhythmic motifs that I lifted, as well as a brusque, at times violent spirit that I, for one, associate with some of his works, and most definitely, this one.

— Ian Krouse

I was so glad that Inna asked me to write a response to the very intimate Opus 126, No. 5 as I already responded strongly to its tenderness. In infusing the original with my own 21st-Century sensibilities, and as a bagatelle is a trifle—or as one might say today, “Oh, it was nothing!”—the piece as it evolved evoked for me the sweet nothings new lovers whisper to each other, and thus, its title, “Sweet Nothings.”

— Mark Carlson

The last movement of the last composition for solo piano that Beethoven saw through to publication is peculiar. The brief, flaming fast sections seemingly unrelated to the larger, slower middle section; the frequent three-bar phrases; and the prolonged pause on a low submediant pedal nearly precisely at the geographic middle of the piece all contribute to the surprising sound of this Bagatelle. I attempted to capture those features, but using an arithmetic mode that, in its “precipitando” potential, helps knit the outer sections with the middle.

— David Lefkowitz

Ondine: Variations on a Spell is in two movements, “Water Sprite” and “Bell Tolls,” in two distinct sections. The work as a whole is a reimagining of Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit (1908), and a response to “Ondine,” more specifically. Ravel based each movement on poems by Aloysius Bertrand from the collection Gaspard de la Nuit, fantasies a la manière de Rembrandt et de Callos, completed in 1836. “Variations” is a modern reimagining that takes as inspiration both Ravel’s music and Betrand’s poetry. “Each wave is a water sprite who swims in the stream, each stream is a foot path that winds towards my palace, and my palace is a fluid structure at the bottom of the lake, in a triangle of fire, earth and air.”

— Paola Prestini

Le Gibet: Old Ground: Ravel’s “Le Gibet” fascinates and repulses me; it’s a brilliantly succinct textbook of harmonic possibility, but I’m simultaneously uncomfortable with its extramusical program, which depicts a hanged corpse at sunset. The music luridly romanticizes the already too-picturesque prefatory poem by Aloysius Bertrand, reducing the hanged victim to a scenic backdrop against which the poet projects his disturbed thoughts. Ravel represents the roles of observed and observer using an asymmetrical ostinato around which a palette of murky, ambiguous chords slowly churns. Old Ground reverses these roles. The opening ostinato is given agency and trajectory; the dark chords, which come in only at the end, accompany a silenced singer.

— Timo Andres

Scarbo: Pursuit, was commissioned by the great pianist, Inna Faliks, and Yamaha Artist Services, as part of a series of “commentary” pieces on the masterwork Gaspard de la Nuit by Maurice Ravel. Pursuit started out as an interpretive parallel to “Scarbo,” the third movement of Gaspard, but quickly turned into—in my mind—a sadly familiar American storyline, in which a black man is being pursued by either a slave catcher, a KKK lynch mob, or the modern day police. There is no overly conscious formal structure, just two parts: a rapidly virtuosic repeated note section juxtaposed with a somberly lyrical passage. The two disparate segments alternate back and forth, creating more of an intuitive sense of a dramatic arc than a fixed musical design. Inna Faliks’s interpretation of this work is extraordinary; her deft, sure-handed, and dynamic technique captures the edgy pathos of the pursuit, while her sensitivity and delicacy of touch brilliantly conveys the angst of the slower sections.

— Billy Childs