A treasure island of piano music — Spiegel Online
The Grand Piano label continues to uncover gems of the piano repertoire. — Fanfare


Complete Piano Works • 6

  • Nicholas Walker, piano

This final volume in Nicholas Walker’s much-admired survey of the complete solo piano music of Balakirev includes the composer’s famous work for piano, Islamey, an exotic and ultravirtuoso oriental tale. Also featured are previously unpublished and unrecorded miniatures—pieces that are both poetic and, in the case of the Elegy on the Death of a Mosquito, witty. Transcriptions of Glinka are included, and Walker has arranged Balakirev’s passionate and sensual symphonic poem Tamara for solo piano, recreating textures redolent of the composer’s own piano style. He also plays Au Jardin, an Idyll-Étude of rapt beauty and tenderness.

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


Balakirev, Mily Alexeyevich
La fileuse (The Spinner) (1906) (00:03:23)
Au jardin (In the Garden), "Idyll-étude" (1884) (00:04:38)
Glinka, Mikhail Ivanovich
Kamarinskaya (arr. M.A. Balakirev for piano) (1848) (00:07:48)
Balakirev, Mily Alexeyevich
Tamara (arr. N. Walker for piano) (1882) * (00:21:10)
Polka in F-Sharp Minor (1859) (00:02:44)
Elegy on the Death of a Mosquito (completed by N. Walker) (1855) * (00:01:11)
La danse de sorcières (Witches' Dance) (completed by N. Walker) (1856) * (00:02:58)
Glinka, Mikhail Ivanovich
Ne govori: lyubov' proydyot (Do not Say: Love Passes Away) (arr. M.A. Balakirev for piano) (1834) (00:04:18)
Balakirev, Mily Alexeyevich
Tyrolienne (1902) (00:04:50)
Zapol'sky, Platon Vasil'evich
Rêverie (arr. M.A. Balakirev for piano) (1890) (00:06:53)
Balakirev, Mily Alexeyevich
Toccata in C-Sharp Minor (1902) (00:04:25)
Glinka - A Farewell to St. Petersburg: No. 10. Zhavoronok (The Lark) (1864) (00:05:32)
Islamey, "Oriental Fantasy" (1869) (00:08:51)
* World Première Recording
Total Time: 01:18:41

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.
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.


“Walker’s performances offer more shaping, refinement, sense of line, color, and depth of tone” – Fanfare

“Walker plays with all of the requisite technique and excitement along with an unusual feel for its figurations and compositional style. He does not aim to be the fastest or most brilliant but he is very likely the most musical.” – American Record Guide

“Walker storms home in the grandest manner, providing a fitting and exhilarating end to his odyssey.” – Gramophone

“[Walker] has just completed a Balakirev cycle for the Grand Piano label that has to be heard to be believed” – The Spectator