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A titan of Bach on the piano, Nikolayeva’s performances exude a granitic strength. Bach’s linear workings, coupled with his ability to project over large spans, are laid bare with exquisite certainty.

Nikolayeva’s most famous (and most readily available) BWV1080 is her 1992 Hyperion recording. This live performance from Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy dates from even nearer the end of her life – April 1993 – and the wisdom of a lifetime’s immersion in Bach is evident everywhere. Contrapunctus III sums up the clarity, imagination and mastery of her voice-leading, while the final, unfinished Contrapunctus XIV carries the weight of the world. No completion, the music just trails off.

Hyperion offers finer sound, but this version is more poignant.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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