Wednesday, 2 December 2020

A record dedicated to those who believe in ‘ the holiness of the heart’s affections and the truth of imagination.’

Slavonic Reflections; Chopin, Janáček, Medtner, Lyadov; Nelly Akopian-Tamarina; Pentatone

Slavonic Reflections
; Chopin, Janáček, Medtner, Lyadov; Nelly Akopian-Tamarina; Pentatone

Reviewed by Bryce Morrison on 2 December 2020 Star rating: 5.0 (★★★★★)
Recorded live at the Wigmore Hall, a highly personal selection of piano music from the distinguished Russian pianist

Chopin's Mazurkas and Janáček's Into the Mists with encores by Lyadov and Medtner, performed by Nelly Akopian-Tamarina (piano) recorded live at the Wigmore Hall, on Pentatone.

Nelly Akopian-Tamarina’s recital entitled Slavonic Reflections given at the Wigmore Hall is a truly transcendental experience in the sense that it takes you far beyond the conventional or readily accessible.

Never a pianist who uses a composer as a spring-board for personal and preening excess her playing is as natural as it is unselfconsciously exploratory, making you pause, reconsider, feel and think again in music filled with shadows and unresolved conflict. 

More than ever she confirms my view that the Chopin Mazurkas are his confessional diary, her selection of nine varying their ‘zal’ and often neurasthenic nature with interpretations far removed from a more familiar urbanity and sophistication. For her, breaks into the light are rare and quickly erased, as in the final repetition of the theme in opus 17 No 4 in A minor or in the sudden sinister and startling jolt with which she concludes opus 56 No 3 in C minor. 

Her Janacek takes us still further In the Mists, into music that is unnerving in its mood-swings and volatility. Finally, there is Medtner and Liadov and a record dedicated to her father, and to Nelly Akopian-Tamarina’s ‘remembrance of things past’ but ever present. 

Few more thought- and heart-provoking records exist.

Reviewed by Bryce Morrison 

Biographical note:

Nelly Akopian-Tamarina studied at the Moscow Conservatoire, she was one of the last pupils of the legendary Alexander Goldenweiser (1876-1961) (who had studied with Alexander Siloti, Pavel Pabst, Mikhail Ippolitov Ivanov, Anton Arensky and Sergey Taneyev), and the first of Dmitri Bashkirov. In 1963 she won the Gold Medal at the Zwickau Schumann International Competition. Her early Soviet recordings for Melodiya – including Chopin’s Preludes Op 28 and the Schumann Piano Concerto with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra – are collectors’ items. Subsequently effaced from public life, obstructed in the Soviet Union from giving concerts, she turned to painting, her watercolours being exhibited in Moscow. 

In 1983 Nelly Akopian-Tamarina made her London début at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, playing Schumann and Chopin. In October 2002, following an absence of twenty-five years, she was invited back to Russia, appearing in the Bolshoi Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. Between 2008 and 2010 she gave an admired trilogy of recitals at the Wigmore Hall, dedicated to Brahms, Schumann, Janáček and Chopin.

See Robert Matthew-Walker's review of Nelly Akopian-Tamarina's 2009 recital at the Wigmore Hall on Classical Source including Chopin mazurkas and Janáček's Into the Mists.

Slavonic Reflections
Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) - Mazurka Op. 67, No. 2 in G Minor, Mazurka Op. 17, No. 1 in B-flat Major, Mazurka Op. 17, No. 2 in E Minor, Mazurka Op. 17, No. 4 in A Minor, Mazurka Op. 41, No. 2 in E Minor, Mazurka Op. 30, No. 2 in B Minor, Mazurka Op. 56, No. 3 in C Minor, Mazurka Op. 33, No. 3 in C Major, Op. 50, No. 3 in C-sharp Minor
Leoš Janáček (1854-1928) - In the Mists, JW 8:22
Nikolai Medtner (1880-1951) -  Skazka Op. 26, No. 3 in F Minor
Anatoly Lyadov (1855-1914) -  Mazurka Op. 57, No. 3 in F Minor
Nelly Akopian-Tamarina (piano)
Recorded live at the Wigmore Hall in 2008/2009

PENTATONE PTC51861576  1CD [58.23]

Available from Amazon, from Hive.

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