Nikolaeva’s grandson makes his mark

Nikolaeva’s grandson makes his mark


norman lebrecht

July 17, 2016

A Russian pianist of 23, Arseny Tarasevich-Nikolaev, has just made it it to the finals of the Sydney International Piano Competition.

The locals are getting excited. ‘I cannot remember the last time I was so moved and so affected by musicianship of th(is) calibre, nobility, poetry and charisma,’ enthuses one music manager.

Arseny is the grandson of the indelible Soviet-era pianist Tatiana Nikolaeva.


arseny nikolaev

The other Sydney finalists are: Kenneth Broberg, Andrey Gugnin,Oxana Shevchenko, Moye Chen and Jianing Kong.


  • Hugh Jarze says:

    The Sydney piano competition is in good company. According to the Alink-Argerich website, which lists practically all international piano competitions being held, in 2016 we have had 101 piano competitions from January up to and including mid-July, with 29 (!) having taken place in June alone.

    A quick extrapolation for the full year 2016 yields a total of around 180 piano competitions. Assuming that 4 prizes from each count for “something” in a pianist’s CV, then we have 400 prizewinners already and are heading for over 700 by year-end. Add those to the prizewinners from the last 3 years, we are looking at around well over 2500 prizewinners competing in whatever “market” exists for these people.

    It has been proposed that the principal beneficiaries of piano competitions are the organizers and juries. The above figures would seem at least not to contradict this theory.

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    She would be so proud of him. Good luck to Arseny and all of the brilliant young musicians who participate in this respected event! (I met her once in Europe, with her husband. A very special lady with a fabulous legacy. Her Bach and Shostakovich recordings are classic.)

  • esfir ross says:

    My favored young pianist in finals: Moye Chen and Arseny Tarasevich-Nikolaev.
    Wish them a good concert career. Extraordenary talents.

    • Cyril Blair says:

      I haven’t been listening to this Sydney competition, but I have heard both these pianists in other competitions and they are great. Good luck to everyone!

  • Delphine1962 says:

    The best of luck to all the gifted finalists (and those equally gifted who didn’t make it that far). Anecdote about Tatiana Nikolaeva; at the Leipzig Bach competition (which consolidated her career and her association with Shostakovich), she apparently arrived for the first round without having notified the jury which Prelude and Fugue she intened to play. On being asked, she said:

    “Which one to do want to hear?”

    And, on being given a specific number to play, she asked:

    “And in which KEY would you like me to play it?”

    Now, I have – for years – thought/hoped that this was a myth, except that I was at college with a pianist named Jill Crossland, who – in her first undergraduate term of year 1- performed the entire 48 over six concerts. I remember having a chat with her outside a practice room at the time, and she remarked ( with no pretension whatsoever) that she had to go and learn a fugue. After one hour, she played the whole fugue – one of the most complex – to me – from memory.

    There is a very special and rare set of gifts which permits this, and has nothing to do with the hours and hours of slog which I (and most of us) have to commit to in order to play a single work from the set. I have long learned to accept this and to continue to be willing to inch on every year or so, and I am equally thrilled and happy, realising that one should not be put off by Bach, even if there are those extraordinary people out there.

  • Cyril Blair says:

    Of interest are the requirements for the semi-finalists. They need to play one of these violin/piano sonatas:

    Beethoven Sonata No 9 Op 47 (‘Kreutzer’)
    Brahms Sonata No 3 in D minor Op 108
    Fauré Sonata No 1 in A major Op 13
    Franck Sonata in A major
    Strauss Sonata in E flat major Op 18

    and one of these piano quintets:

    Bloch Piano Quintet No 1 (1923)
    Dvořák Piano Quintet No 2 in A major Op 81
    Elgar Piano Quintet in A minor Op 84
    Franck Piano Quintet in F minor
    Schumann Piano Quintet in E flat major Op 44
    Taneyev Piano Quintet in G minor Op 30

    Plus an 18th century concerto….and for the 19-20th century concerto, the choices are:

    Barber Concerto Op 38
    Bartók Concerto No 3 Sz. 119, BB 127
    Beethoven Concerto No 4 in G major Op 58
    Brahms Concerto No 2 in B flat major Op 83
    Chopin Concerto No 2 in F minor Op 21
    Dohnányi Variations on a Nursery Tune Op 25
    Franck Variations Symphoniques M.46
    Litolff Scherzo from Concerto Symphonique No 4.
    Gershwin Concerto in F
    Grieg Concerto in A minor Op 16
    Hummel Concerto No 2 in A minor Op 85
    Liszt Concerto No 2 in A major S.125
    Medtner Concerto No 2 in C minor Op 50
    Prokofiev Concerto No 3 in C major Op 26
    Rachmaninoff Concerto No 2 in C minor Op 18
    Ravel Concerto in G major
    Saint-Saëns Concerto No 2 in G minor Op 22
    Schumann Concerto in A minor Op 54
    Scriabin Concerto in F sharp minor Op 20
    Tchaikovsky Concerto No 2 in G major Op 44 (Revised version)
    Williamson Concerto No 3 in E flat major

    Important note
    If you choose the Franck, you must also play the Scherzo by Litolff

    Wow! What a list. Unusual.

  • Karen Quinton says:

    I studied with Tatiana Nikolaieva in Moscow for two years and then met Kirill her son, who at that time was young and a bit of a handful..It’s so nice to see that the playing legacy has surfaced in the next generation. She was absolutely revered in her country and in most of Europe.