Nelly Akopian-Tamarina


Managed in association with Nicholas Mathias Ltd.


Born in Moscow, the Russian pianist Nelly Akopian-Tamarina carries on an illustrious line of Russian Romanticism going back to Anton Rubinstein and Liszt. A connoisseurs’ artist from a bygone era, excelling in repertory for which she has received the highest international recognition.

At the Moscow Conservatoire she was one of the last students of the legendary Alexander Goldenweiser, continuing with Dmitri Bashkirov. In 1963 she won the Gold Medal at the Zwickau Schumann International Competition. In 1974, succeeding Richter and Gilels, she was awarded the coveted Robert Schumann Prize. Formerly Soloist of the Moscow State Philharmonie, 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.

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“It’s a long time since I’ve heard Chopin mazurkas made so engrossing that my mind never wandered … Her inflexions are consistently daring and yet always part and parcel of a distinctive poetic vision … So much love radiates from this playing that I felt well and truly enchanted and disarmed.”

David Fanning

Gramophone, January 2021

“A record dedicated to those who believe in ‘the holiness of the heart’s affections and the truth of imagination’. 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 … Few more thought- and heart-provoking records exist.”


Bryce Morrison

Planet Hugill, 2 December 2020

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“Enchanting, intimate and irresistible.”

Erica Jeal

The Guardian, 14 Dec 2017

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“The piano sound made by the Moscow-born Nelly Akopian-Tamarina was not only distinctive, but almost tangible, like a new thing in the room. Or, rather, an old thing – a sound one associates with … intense performer liberty, with 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.”

Paul Driver, The Sunday Times

“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 height of enigmatic poetry.”

David Nice, BBC Music Magazine, January 2021</p

“An album that carries us into a realm of gentle enchantment … The Janáček suite becomes an effusion of quintessentially Slavic lyricism, the Medtner the most languidly graceful of reveries, and the Liadov a closing bonne bouche.”

Michael Church, International Piano, January/February 2021

“Nelly Akopian-Tamarina’s Brahms recital is so personal, distinctive and musicianly, that it makes one think again, erasing all pre-conceptions. This is Brahms as you never previously knew him. Time and time again she brings a near Mozartian clarity to music… a pianist of rare poetic empathy … inspirational and enlightening.”

Bryce Morrison, International Piano, February 2018

“Revelatory Brahms from another age … I’ve never heard Brahms’s Handel Variations played like this. The music seems to come from a distant place and time … It’s partly the singing line and the pearlised glow she puts on the notes, and partly the fact that she lets each variation unfold in a natural and unhurried way, as though she and we have all the time in the world.”

Michael Church, BBC Music Magazine Instrumental Choice of the Month, February 2018

“One of the most individual pianists currently before the public … Janáček’s In the mists showed this remarkable artist at her very best; indeed, this was an account of no little distinction, such as would place her playing as among the finest that can ever have been laid at the service of this music.”

Robert Matthew-Walker, Classical Source

“I have only heard such subtle shading, such dynamic range, such deep focus on inner syncopations and modulations in recordings from pianists from the past such as Moiseiwitsch and Cortot … it would take a dissertation to register all the wonders of this performance … I can’t imagine ever forgetting tonight’s truly unique ‘live’ musical event.”

Geoff Diggines, MusicWeb International

“See the Sound – Hear the Colour … a Master Musician Pianist … The Celibidache of the piano? … Since the incomparable Benno Moiseiwitsch, her Schumann Fantasy is certainly the finest I have ever heard, eclipsing all others on disc and in live performance … A great artist is once more amongst us, probing deeply into the true meaning behind the music … delighting us with her unique beauty of touch … a complete grasp of musical structure and expression.”

Bill Newman, Musical Opinion

“One succumbed to the poetry she created … This was playing of a sort that one thought had disappeared forever”

John Amis

“A remarkable artist of rarified quality … Simply a phenomenon.”

Antal Doráti

“Delicate, ballerinesque, a latter-day ‘lady in black’, Akopian-Tamarina recitals are haunting. Luminous fortissimi, chords ice-edged in silver. The riskiest pianissimi. Singing lines, deliberated textures, complex voicings, broad-chested melodies ‘thrown’ across the auditorium. Unspoken stories journeying to the stars. The art of tempo. She’s very much a believer in allegory as a passport to other worlds and states of mind. Phrasing, pausing, breathing, silence, the language of meaning, feeling and communication, is her universe. Poet and conjurer, Slavonically-cultured Romantic, she takes listeners back to a distant, lost past.”

Ateş Orga, Legendary Russian Pianists, Brilliant Classics


Nelly Akopian-Tamarina performs Chopin's Waltz in A minor, B.150

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“Nelly Akopian-Tamarina performs Chopin’s Waltz in A minor, B.150 filmed at Steinway Hall by Knight Classical.

“In her “spellbinding” (Guardian) new album recorded live at Wigmore Hall, Nelly performs Chopin’s Mazurkas in ‘Slavonic Reflections’ out now on PENTATONE.” – Pianist Magazine

From Classic FM: 5th January is a remarkable day for great pianists… Alfred Brendel, Maurizio Pollini, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Nikolai Medtner and Russian pianist Nelly Akopian Tamarina were all born on this day. Here’s Nelly in Steinway & Sons UK‘s workshop.”