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BBC Music Magazine (06/2020)
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First Hand Records

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Appréciation d'ensemble / Overall evaluation :

Reviewer: Michael Church

Tatyana Nikolayeva (1924-93) was one of the greatest Bach pianists who ever lived, and as a pupil of Alexander Goldenweiser represented the Moscow school of pianism at its apogee. Impressed that she routinely played Bach’s 48 from memory, Shostakovich was inspired to compose his own cycle of preludes and fugues; this she duly took into her repertoire which already included all the Beethoven sonatas plus major compositions by the Romantics and many Russian composers. She was an inspired teacher with a magnetic onstage presence: this live recording made in Helsinki in 1993 is notable for the rapt silence of the audience. But that was her final year: a few months later she suffered a stroke while playing the Shostakovich set; she played on to the interval, then played no more.

Her artistry in this Helsinki concert is consummate and her memory almost faultless. With a warmly lyrical opening, and a touch responding to the variegated requirements of the score, she makes this long musical journey an intensely beguiling experience. The last note suggests an electric current suddenly switched off.

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