Brahms - Handel Variations, Ballades op.10 | Pentatone PTC5186677

Brahms - Handel Variations, Ballades op.10

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Label: Pentatone

Cat No: PTC5186677

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Instrumental

Release Date: 17th November 2017



The incomparable, soul-searching playing of the veteran Russian pianist Nelly Akopian-Tamarina is captured in a rare studio recording for Pentatone with a luminous performance of Brahms's towering Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Handel, op.24, and the introspective Four Ballades, op.10.

Nelly Akopian-Tamarina is an exemplar of an exquisitely crafted and poetical style of playing which is subtle, probing, deeply lyrical and utterly spellbinding. Winner of the 1963 Robert Schumann International Competition for Pianists and Singers and recipient of the coveted Robert Schumann Prize in 1974. Her public appearances are all too infrequent but sought after and cherished by aficionados; for an all-Brahms recital in 2008 she was praised for her "luminous fortissimi, ice-edged chords, fine pianissimos, deliberated textures, intricate pedalling, and expansive, singing melodies".

For this new release, Akopian-Tamarina approaches the programme with her customary sensitivity and poetic insights to give performances of rare subtlety and perfection. "Classically framed romantic miniature fantasies, intricate, entwining studies in embroidery, decoration and voicing", she writes of the Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Handel, "the twenty-five variations navigate the theme to a coronation of fugal triumph, immeasurable and immortal".

"The piano sound made by the Moscow-born Nelly Akopian-Tamarina was not only distinctive, but almost tangible ... a playing tradition going back to the giants of the past, to Rachmaninov, Moiseiwitsch, Scriabin and what we imagine of Liszt ... a fragile, poetic creation in every fold of her dress and with each flick of the wrist." - The Sunday Times, December 2010)

This recording, her first for Pentatone, was made in the warm acoustic of the Snape Maltings in England.


This recording of [Akopian-Tamarinaís] Brahms was made at Snape Maltings in 1995, but is only now released for the first time. And itís a revelation:Iíve never heard Brahmsís Handel Variations played like this. The music seems to come from a distant place and time, but it draws us in with the most heart-warming immediacy. ... Her playing of the Ballades (recorded 1995-96), with their reflection of Schumannís influence writ large, is intensely poetic, amply justifying the analogy with the seasons which she draws in her liner-note.  Michael Church (Instrumental Choice)
BBC Music Magazine February 2018
enchanting, intimate and irresistible
The Guardian
enchanting, intimate and irresistible
The Guardian December 2017

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