P0651. TATIANA NIKOLAYEVA, w.Anosov Cond.: Piano Concerto #2 in G; w.Kondrashin Cond.: Concert Fantasy in G (both Tchaikovsky; both w.USSR State S.O.). (England) Appian APR 5666, recorded 1950-51. Transfers by Bryan Crimp. - 5024709156665
"Today Nikolayeva (1924-1993) is remembered mainly as a Bach player and also as the definitive performer of Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes & Fugues, which were inspired by and written for the pianist after the composer heard her play Bach in the 1950 Leipzig Bach competition (which she won). However, to limit Nikolayeva’s reputation to these two composers would be doing her a great disservice. She had a vast repertoire and her recordings include concertos by Bartok, Medtner, Prokofiev Stravinsky and several Soviet composers - including her own concerto, as she was also a composer! Further, she recorded the complete Beethoven sonatas and much other standard repertoire from the 19th century.
This CD presents two recording premieres – the first ever recording of the Tchaikovsky Concert Fantasy Op56 and the first recording of the original version of Tchaikovsky’s 2nd Piano Concerto. At the time of its premiere the latter work had been deemed too long and until relatively recently had generally been performed in a drastically cut revision by the pianist Alexander Siloti. Here Nikolayeva reveals that not only was she an intellectual pianist but also a virtuoso who could ‘barnstorm’ with the best of them."
- APR - The Russian Piano Tradition
“It is difficult to imagine anyone forgetting the experience of hearing Tatiana Nikolayeva play. She was one of those rare artists who had the ability to win over an audience before even reaching the keyboard. Rotund, and frequently wearing a rather startlingly bright dress, she would make her way to the front of the piano, give the audience a heartwarmingly big smile, and then settle her ample frame on to the stool. Everything radiated humility, generosity of spirit and, above all, happiness.
I soon learnt that she was, above all, a Bach player and had won first prize at the International Bach Competition in Leipzig, inaugurated to commemorate the bicentenary of the composer's death in 1750. Dmitri Shostakovich had been a judge at the event and was so impressed and inspired by the 25-year-old pianist's playing that he had written his 24 Preludes and Fugues for her. She would visit his apartment to play them over to him almost one-by-one as they were composed. The Opus 87 set became one of the most important works in Nikolayeva's repertoire, taking up a whole recital programme.
Alexander Goldenweizer had been a friend of Scriabin, Rachmaninov and Medtner, and inculcated into his students the need to develop the highest proficiency in contrapuntal playing. Bach was very much the order of the day. Amongst Goldenweizer's other students who reached the top of their profession were Grigori Ginzburg, Samuil Feinberg, Dmitri Bashkirov and Lazar Berman. Graduating from Goldenweizer’s class in 1947, Nikolayeva then studied composition with Yevgeni Golubev.
Though she had made her official debut in 1945, it was not until after the Leipzig Bach Competition that Nikolayeva's career really took off. Appearances, however, were very much restricted to Eastern Bloc countries, and she never achieved the 'favoured artist' status that was the prerequisite to enable any Soviet musician to play abroad during the Cold War years. Nikolayeva started teaching at the Moscow Conservatory in 1959, and from 1965 was a professor. It was her standing as such that led her to be invited to sit as a jury member for various different international piano competitions; she was at the Leeds Competition in 1984 and 1987.
Nikolayeva had a colossal repertoire and specialised in playing cyclical works. Aside from the Shostakovich, though, Tatiana Nikolayeva will be remembered as a Bach player who flung stylistic considerations to the winds and played the music with an irrepressible musical intelligence and knowledge of the resources of her chosen instrument.”
- James Methuen-Campbell, THE INDEPENDENT, 27 Nov., 1993