Nelly Akopian-Tamarina


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Representing the grand tradition of the old Russian piano school Nelly Akopian-Tamarina is a connoisseur’s artist from a bygone era, a musician of discernment excelling in a repertory for which she has received the highest international recognition. Born in Moscow, she studied with Anaida Sumbatyan at the Moscow Central Music School. At the Moscow Conservatory she was one of the last students of the legendary Alexander Goldenweiser and the first of Dmitri Bashkirov. Through her teachers she carries on an illustrious branch of Russian Romanticism, going back to Anton Rubinstein and Liszt.

As a young student Akopian-Tamarina won the Gold Medal at the 1963 Robert Schumann International Competition for Pianists and Singers in Zwickau. In 1974, succeeding Richter and Gilels, she was awarded the Robert Schumann Prize. Formerly Soloist of the Moscow State Philharmonie, her admired early Soviet recordings for Melodiya included Chopin’s Preludes Op 28 and the Schumann Piano Concerto with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra. Subsequently effaced from public life and blocked in the Soviet Union from giving concerts, she turned to painting for her artistic self-expression, her watercolours being exhibited in Moscow.

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Recent News


“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

“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

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“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 Choice of the Month

“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.”

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