Friday, 12 October 2012

Tatiana Nikolayeva

Picasso had his cubist periods and his blue periods. I seem to have a Russian period at the moment. Current source of delight is Tatiana Nikolayeva playing the 24 Shostakovich preludes & fugues Op 87, a Russian recording from 1987 available very cheaply from Regis Records. I bought the Nikolayeva set partly on the recommendation of a friend (Martin White) and partly because I so enjoyed the recent set by Alexander Melnikov and wanted a second option.

The quality and variety of music in the 48 sections of the 24 preludes and fugues is amazing. This is music to listen to regularly; like Bach's music, it satisfies both cerebrally and emotionally. The sound world oscillates between the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. I keep listening to five or so of the pieces at a time. As to Nikolayeva versus Melnikov: I have no idea who is “best”. I just know I like both of them very much.

How refreshing to listen to the two Russian piano-babes, Maria Yudina and Tatiana Nikolayeva. Pretty obvious neither was selected for their sex appeal or luscious curves. The two are famous and still listened to because they were marvellous pianists and musicians. How many of today's violin or piano babes (or their male equivalents) will still be famous and listened to in fifty years time? The insatiable desire of the “music industry” to commercialise, commoditise and earn large amounts of money short-term is highly detrimental to musicians. Yudina, Nikolayeva, Casals, Elman, Heifetz, Beecham and their like would never get further than the doorman at modern international recording companies.

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