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, Nelly Akopian-Tamarina 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 – associate and friend of Scriabin, Rachamninov and Medtner – and the first of Dmitri Bashkirov. Through her teachers she carries on an illustrious branch of Russian Romanticism. reaching back to Anton Rubinstein and Liszt.
As a student Akopian-Tamarina won the Gold Medal at the 1963 Robert Schumann International Comptition for Pianists and Singers in Zwickau, and in 1974, succeeding Richter, Nikolayeva and Gilels, was awarded the 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 – have become collectors’ items. Subsequently removed from public life and prevented by the authorities from giving any concerts, she turned to painting for her artistic self-expression, her watercolours being exhibited in Moscow.
Nelly Akopian-Tamarina made her London début at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1983 playing Schumann and Chopin, the first of several South Bank appearances. Other highlights of the eighties included the Brahms Piano Quintet with the Vienna Musikverein Quartet; and a series of “Romantic Fantasia” recitals in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. Dating from this period, her first British recording, of the Schumann Fantasy, is included in Brilliant Classics’ 2009 collection Legendary Russian Pianists.
In Prague the 1990s, in her capacity as Artistic Consultant to the Prague Conservatory, she gave a series of masterclasses at the Pálfi Palace. In 1997, marking the Brahms centenary year, she appeared to outstanding critical acclaim at the Dvořák Hall of the Rudolfinum to open both the international piano series of the Prague Symphony Orchestra, and the chamber season of the Czech Philharmonic.
In October 2002, following an absence of twenty-five years, she made a momentous return to Russia to play in a gala concert in the Bolshoi Hall of the Moscow Conservatory.
In January 2008 she appeared at the Wigmore Hall with a critically admired all-Brahms recital, followed in 2009 by a programme of “scenes” from Schubert, Janáček and Chopin, and in 2010 a Schumann bi-centenary celebration.