It was only a few months ago that Janina made her miraculous come back to the concert stage in London and here she is back again to open the Master Series in Kings Place.
Having repeated a few days earlier her performance of the Paderewski Piano Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic this time in Poland.
A performance we had heard at the Barbican last November when it was also broadcast live on the BBC.
Peter Frankl had been present at the Barbican and exclaimed in a simple late night E mail after the concert : “Wonderful playing by Janina. Such a natural musician, a real artist! Good night.”
Menahem Pressler had heard it on the radio from Bloomington in Indiana.
In fact Menahem Pressler at the age of 95 had come in person to Kings Place to witness this miracle for himself.
And he was not disappointed exclaiming about the same simplicity that reminded him of Artur Rubinstein.
A French programme that had that same simplicity of the famous recording of Artur Rubinstein that she had played over the hospital speakers whilst they were operating on her for the cancer that had struck her down twice.
And now she has fully recovered and plays with the same immediacy and simplicity that were the very hallmark of her mentor in his later years.
Janina tells me that she had once played the Tchaikowsky Concerto to Rubinstein and he had complained about her moving too much.
She was determined to prove to him that she could play it without the movements too and immediately got his point.
A simplicity in which all the feeling and colour are within the notes themselves without the need to bend or distort the rhythmic impulse on which the music relies.
Rubato of course but within the the tight limits that the composer implies.
A beautiful Impromptu by Germaine Tailleferre opened the truly French half of the concert and was the ideal introduction to the Fourth Nocturne in E flat by Faure.
It was this nocturne that Janina had played so beautifully on the In Tune presentation the day before on the radio.
The subtlety and delicacy of her sound world was even more magical in this performance.
The extreme aristocratic elegance was exactly what Vlado Perlemuter had asked me to tell his audience in Rome when he played some nocturnes, the very ones that Faure had sent down to him to try out in the house they shared together when Perlemuter was still a student.
The sheer washes of sound and forward movement in the Debussy Reflets dans l’Eau was played with an extraordinary sense of colour and the final two split chords were quite magically played.
The sounds from the bass in “Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir“ opened the piano up to give a palate of quite ravishing colours.
The architectural shape combined with a subtle sense of timing in which the rests became of such impassioned importance to the forward movement of the first movement of Ravel’s Sonatine.
The refined sense of line in the menuet built up to a fullness of sound that found its outlet in the Anime of inexorable urgency that followed.
The second half was dedicated to the “French” Chopin and included the first Scherzo op 20 (not the 3rd as advertised ) and the fourth Ballade framing the Nocturne in E flat op 55 and three mazukas from op 33 and op 67.
Great virtuosity and sense of dramatic urgency in the Scherzo gave way to a subtle and gentle middle section which had been prepared with such a delicate stretching of time and gradual preparation for this most touching of Polish folk songs.
The coda was thrown off as only a true virtuoso can who knows how to pace and shape the melodic line with great control.
The fourth Ballade began with barely a whisper leading to a tumultuous coda after spanning a whole gamut of emotions.
The opening melody shaped with great sense of colour that was then taken up by the variations and a subtle build up to the great final explosion before the coda.
A truly virtuoso performance in which the overall shape was foremost in her mind and there was an overall sense of colour that gave such untiy to one of the pinnacles of the romantic repertoire.
The nocturne in E flat was played with that aristocratic sense of rubato that is almost unnoticeable but can make the music speak in such a unique way.It was the same shape and colour that she brought to the three Mazukas that are the very soul of Chopin’s world.A world that Rubinstein shared with us and that now his disciple is once again sharing with us in her own inimitable way.