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Slavonic Reflections

Nelly Akopian-Tamarina (piano) (Pentatone)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Slavonic Reflections
Chopin: Mazurkas; Janáček: In the Mists; Medtner: Skazka, Op. 26 No. 3 in F minor; Liadov: Three Pieces, Op. 57
Nelly Akopian-Tamarina (piano)
Pentatone PTC 5186 756   58:23 mins


Introspection and mystery reign here: Moscow-trained pianist Nelly Akopian-Tamarina seeds her own very singular mists out of which real faces loom from time to time. The selection of Chopin Mazurkas tend to the minor key, not always melancholy with this composer, but very much so here. The da capo of Op. 67 No. 2 sets the tone, with a retreat into reverie. Among the many radical creations in the genre, Op. 17 No. 4, with its sotto voce opening and unresolved ending much loved by Leonard Bernstein, is the height of enigmatic poetry; Akopian-Tamarina relishes its distant voices and still lives.

There’s perfect, if dreamlike logic of following this sequence with Janáček’s In the Mists, improvisatory in feel as any interpretation must be, in turn ceding to a melancholy Medtner Fairy Tale and a shadow of the Chopin line, Lyadov’s Mazurka in F minor.

All that’s missing for me is a brighter tone in major shinings; the piano – presumably one of the Wigmore Hall’s two Steinways – sounds oddly cowled even when it needs to come into the light. Endgames are bit subdued: more extroversion would be welcome in the longest Chopin Mazurka, Op. 50 No 3, and I especially miss a more ferocious, embattled lashing-out in the last of the Janáček pieces. Still, the sincerity and deep musicianship of Akopian-Tamarina are never in doubt, and they’re very much complemented by her intelligent and informative note. She clearly has quite a following in the audience; the next time she comes to the Wigmore, I’ll try and go.

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David Nice