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Inna Faliks: Interview/Preview of her Cornelia St. Cafe show

Music/Words, an interdisciplinary series founded and curated by NYC-based pianist Inna Faliks, continues its fourth season on Sunday, April 22, 2012, at 6 PM with a performance at New York’s Cornelia Street Cafe featuring Faliks and guest pianist Clarice Assad at the piano along with soprano Samantha Malk and poet Irina Mashinski. The program will explore the sensuousness of early Schoenberg (with the Stefan Georgy poetry used in the songs), along with the passion of Mashinski’s poetry and Assad’s Brazilian music. The program includes Schoenberg’s Drei Klavierstucke, opus 11, his songs from Book of Hanging Gardens, and various improvisations by Ms. Assad based on Brazilian piano music.

CM: Can you talk about this upcoming show? This is a very different kind of recital–two pianists, a soprano and a poet recitation. Is this kind of thing new for you?

IF: This performance is part of my Music/Words series, which, to me, in a sense is no longer as new because it’s in its 4th season here in NYC, but it is certainly a concept that is fresh I think! Music/Words always showcases alternating readings with performances, and the music and words are linked more by character, mood, spiritually, in a way, rather than in some literal way–though sometimes literal connections happen as well. This particular installment explores music that is passionate, whimsical, even sensuous–and few would associate Schoenberg with those adjectives. It is also the very first time that I am including a non-classical element–the wonderful Brazilian performer, Clarice Assad. Irina Mashinski’s poetry is very direct, personal, and also springs from her Russian backgrounds – there are some translations and some poems written originally in English. The evening is one of a multicultural nature and variety.

CM: Cornelia St. Cafe seems like an unusual venue for classical as well. Is it for you, or not necessarily?

IF: I think Cornelia Street Cafe is a perfect venue for a concept such as Music/Words, because of its intimacy. It takes one back in time, creating a cozy, warm salon-style setting. Its intimacy sets the audience at ease and gets rid of borders between performer and listener. I would love for the audience to enjoy the images that the poems may evoke, and carry those in their minds as they hear the music. This can be such a personal, subjective thing. What is memorable to one may not necessarily be as striking to another–so each experience will be different.

CM: I saw that you debuted 13 Ways of Looking at the Goldberg in New York. What was your experience like with this work?

IF: I premiered this piece in NYC, Chicago (on WFMT radio and in live concerts) and in Los Angeles. This is an imaginative journey with so much character changes. It’s great fun to play! I am particularly lucky because one of my wonderful teachers, Gilbert Kalish, is the dedicatee of this piece, and I played it for him a number of times. That was exciting.

CM: Can you also talk about this upcoming project of Discovering Piano works of Women Composers? Is this also going to include living composers?

IF: It is one of many programs that I am featuring next season–and yes, it definitely includes living composers. Clarice Assad, for example, is one. Others include Lera Auerbach, Tania Leon, Augusta Read Thomas.
In general, I would like to describe the nature of my programming as, in a way, omnivorous. I have a very large repertoire, and frequently program “standard” repertoire (I do hate that word–no great piece of music is standard. The artist’s job is to make it fresh, surprising. No music was standard at its first perforamnce, and it should not be standard today) with rare and new music. My CD, (on MSR more info at www.innafaliks.com) Sound of Verse, explores music related to poetry, and combines repertoire that is known–like Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit–with repertoire that is rare, such as the complete piano music of Boris Pasternak, the Russian poet and author of Dr. Zhivago. Rachmaninoff’s 2nd sonata, in its original version, is very rarely performed. So, the disc, in a way, represents my programming style.

Cornelia Street Café is located at 29 Cornelia Street, Greenwich Village, NYC. Tickets are $20 (includes a drink or credit against food) and are available by calling 212-989-9319.

Inna Faliks.com