This collection is the first fruit of a recording contract with Decca Classics and Universal Music Australia’s Classics and Jazz division. The contract went to 23-year-old Russian pianist Arseny Tarasevich-Nikolaev, a prize winner in the 2016 Sydney Piano Competition, and grandson of the great Tatiana Nikolaeva for whom Shostakovich wrote his Preludes and Fugues Op. 87. Appropriately, the program is drawn from the works of 20th-century Russian pianist/composers, most notably Rachmaninov (Moments Musicaux) and Prokofiev (Visions Fugitives), but also short pieces by Medtner, Scriabin, and two attractive Concert Studies by Nikolaeva herself.

I am not surprised this young musician is going places. His playing has a beautifully contoured, polished surface, which conjures up his 20th-century predecessors who set a high value on beauty of sound. There is little angularity or dryness. With Tarasevich-Nikolaev the music flows. He is clearly most comfortable in the introspective or gentle moments of this work, which is also true in Rachmaninov’s pieces, where Tarasevich-Nikolaev uses his considerable technical facility to serve the composer. To hear his virtuosity, you need only listen to Danza Festiva, second of the two Forgotten Melodies by Medtner: it is dazzling. Rachmaninov’s arrangement of the Lullaby, Op. 16, No 1 by Tchaikovsky is a lovely discovery and, like everything on the disc, played with taste and understanding.

Composer: Rachmaninov, Prokofiev
Composition: Moments Musicaux, Visions Fugitives
Performer: Arseny Tarasevich-Nikolaev p
Catalogue Number: Decca 4833922

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