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Complete Piano Works • 5

Original Works and Transcriptions

  • Nicholas Walker, piano

Balakirev’s appreciation of other composers is reflected in transcriptions that also reveal his brilliance as a pianist. With several world premiere recordings, this programme includes the marvellous balalaika sonorities and virtuoso colours to be found in operas by Glinka, the novel concept of dovetailing préludes by Chopin, and the richness of Beethoven’s string quartets. A plaintive Gondola Song, the relentlessly energetic Tarantelle and the Polonaise brillante conclude this fifth volume in Nicholas Walker’s acclaimed complete edition of his piano works.

This recording was made on a modern instrument: Steinway, Model D


Balakirev, Mily Alexeyevich
Réminiscences de l'opéra La vie pour le czar (1899) (00:11:54)
Glinka, Mikhail Ivanovich
Ruslan i Lyudmila: Chernomor's march (arr. M.A. Balakirev for piano) (1890) * (00:04:19)
Chopin, Fryderyk
Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 11: II. Romanza: Larghetto (arr. M.A. Balakirev for piano) (1830) (00:08:06)
Balakirev, Mily Alexeyevich
Impromptu (after Chopin's Préludes) (1907) (00:04:57)
Chopin, Fryderyk
Scherzo No. 2 in B-Flat Minor, Op. 31 (cadenza by M.A. Balakirev) (1837) * (00:10:40)
Liszt, Franz
Mazurka brillante, S221/R43 (1850) (00:04:48)
Mazurka brillante, S221/R43 (cadenza by M.A. Balakirev) (1850) * (00:04:56)
Beethoven, Ludwig van
String Quartet No. 8 in E Minor, Op. 59, No. 2, "Rasumovsky": III. Allegretto (arr. M.A. Balakirev for piano) (1862) (00:06:52)
String Quartet No. 13 in B-Flat Major, Op. 130: V. Cavatina (arr. M.A. Balakirev for piano) (1859) (00:05:52)
Balakirev, Mily Alexeyevich
Gondellied in A Minor () (00:06:43)
Tarantella in B Major (1901) (00:05:54)
Polonaise Brillante () * (00:03:11)
* World Première Recording
Total Time: 01:18:12

The Artist(s)

Nicholas Walker Nicholas Walker studied at the Royal Academy of Music and the Moscow Conservatoire. Winner of the first Newport International Piano competition, he has performed with major British orchestras, given recitals worldwide, and recorded for the BBC, BMG Arte Nova, ASV, Chandos and Danacord labels.

The Composer(s)

A brilliant pianist, improviser, noted conductor and selfless champion of other composers, Balakirev is surprisingly little known today. Yet as leader of the Russian composers known as ‘The Mighty Handful’, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky, Borodin and Cui, he strongly influenced not only their work but also that of Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky, setting the standard by which others were judged. In addition to a large output of piano music and songs, Balakirev wrote two symphonies, several symphonic poems, works for piano and orchestra, choral music and incidental music for Shakespeare’s King Lear.
Beethoven did much to enlarge the possibilities of music and widen the horizons of later generations of composers.
Glinka is commonly regarded as the founder of Russian nationalism in music. His influence on Balakirev, self-appointed leader of the later group of five nationalist composers, was considerable. As a child he had some lessons from the Irish pianist John Field, but his association with music remained purely amateur until visits to Italy and in 1833 to Berlin allowed concentrated study and subsequently a greater degree of assurance in his composition, which won serious attention both at home and abroad. His Russian operas offered a synthesis of Western operatic form with Russian melody, while his orchestral music, with skillful instrumentation, offered a combination of the traditional and the exotic. Glinka died in Berlin in 1857.


“Nicholas Walker has the measure of Balakirev’s style and certainly the technique to tackle the extraordinary demands Balakirev places on his performers” – MusicWeb International

“Walker’s playing throughout this absorbing disc is a pleasure to hear, with a sophisticated tonal palette and eschewing any superficial virtuosity: ‘bravura with integrity’ is how I would describe it.” – Gramophone