March 30, 2011

MARTINA FILJAK: Gold Medal, 2009 Cleveland Int'l Piano Competition

HAYDN:  Sonata Hob.XVI.20
BEETHOVEN:  Sonata Op.106
CHOPIN: Etude Op.25 No.10
RAVEL:  Une barque sur l'océan  (Miroirs)
SCRIABIN:  Nocturne Op.9, No. 2 (for left hand)
BERIO:  Six Encores (Wasserklavier, Feuerklavier, and Luftklavier) 

Bolton Theater (Cleveland Playhouse)

Sultry looks and a serious decolletage may give the impression that Martina Filjak is one of those dreaded "Classical Babes" which periodically materialize as embodiments of delusional hopes nurtured by marketing departments of classical record labels.  The truth, however, is that Filjak is a first-rate musician whose instrumental craft is highly polished, and whose pellucid tone has that special glow which speaks of masterful fractional pedaling.
Filjak's musical personality struck me as being essentially lyrical, but I heard nothing musically soggy in her interpretations.  Her Hammerklavier is bracing and propulsive, yet there is always a singing quality to her melodic lines, and the tone never becomes brittle or harsh even in fortissimos.  With its flowing tempo the Adagio emerges as a wistful elegy instead of a funereal dirge, and the music only gains from the underlying subtle sense of urgency.  Filjak's expressive, melancholy, yet rhythmically taut Haydn C-minor sonata is among the most memorable interpretations of that piece that I've heard.  And her playing of the Scriabin Nocturne reflects the palpitating, vertiginous, intoxicating qualities of Scriabin's romanticism.

Although I think that other contestants gave more striking performances of individual works, Filjak impressed my as being the more complete musician.  Perhaps my impression is partly due to the fact that, at the age of 30, Filjak was the oldest and, thus, the most experienced among the competition contestants.  Be that as it may, I think her victory was amply deserved by the breadth of her musicianship and the beauty of her pianism.



Boom said...

RonanM said...

Looking forward to hearing this young woman. It's a shame that the marketing people pick pianists the way the supermarkets pick peppers, so they all end up the same somehow. Even people like Anna Vinnitskaya, who looks like a real slav momma, ends up looking like an idiot by the time the make-up artists are finished with her.

All the more irritating if they are dressing up a real pianist!

Boom said...


I think Filjak looks positively chaste (and closer to Myra Hess!) compared to this young pianist:

RonanM said...

Holy cow. This looks more like shots from a Hong Kong movie than a concert.
That said, I've just been to see Shonen Knife ( and have nothing against high-energy female entertainment!

Anonymous said...

I just saw this :
and thought it was excellent . She seems certainly to have some 'substance' .