Friday, December 31, 2010


Since Shura Cherkassky frisked about the keyboard in his eighties we are used to golden oldies and we hear that Methusaleh has booked the Wigmore early next year. Meanwhile we heard Nelly Akopian-Tamarina in the hall giving a recital of Schumann, December 9. With that ‘ian’ in her name there must be some Armenian blood. Her teacher Goldenweiser, who died in 1961, was famous for his fidelity to the text but Nelly was not. I think Schumann would have recognised the passion and imagination in her playing but he might have raised his eyebrows at the liberties she took with his text: rubatissimo scarcely describes her playing of the Arabaske. Every phrase seemed to have some elongation which made the sugar count rise alarmingly. In Kreisleriana and Davidbündlertänze she pulled the text about, leaving out notes, adding some, pausing lengthily. But as the evening went on one succumbed to the poetry she created. She did not lack virility, sometimes her fingers seemed made of steel but at other times she could play a line so quietly it seemed she could not sustain it to the end, but she always did, absolutely exquisitely.

After the David dances sank down to its close there was a ten second silence which spoke of the rapt attention her playing created. This was playing of a sort that one thought had disappeared forever. What a wealth of poetry and passion there is in the piano music of Schumann; surely it looks forward to the symphonies of Mahler with its reflections of life and its intimation of mortality; utterly different but pointing in the same direction.

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