Locally, it was the last gasp of the Franz Liszt year--1986, the centenary of the composer's death--an important happening, since these past 12 months have provided numerous opportunities in the reassessment and redefinition of Liszt's stature and historical place.
As such, Janina Fialkowska's latest Southland appearance, a Liszt recital at El Camino College featuring a complete performance of the 12 "Transcendental" Etudes, was a noteworthy event. In the 11 years since the young Canadian pianist first played here, her artistic horizons have broadened, her pianistic credentials have been polished; with every return appearance, she sounds more and more like a major presence in her generation.
Still, at 35, Fialkowska often remains cherishable more for her promise than her achievement. With abundant technical resources, undeniable musicality and sometimes charismatic personal projection, she produces admirable performances that often remain earthbound.
Friday, sailing unperturbed through both the complicated and daunting etudes and, for a curtain-raiser, the Variations on "Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen," Fialkowska resolutely refrained from finding that level of communication or inspiration to lift her listeners above the mundane (in the same program, played 14 months ago at Occidental College, the results were reportedly more satisfying).