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Steve Arloff
MusicWeb International, September 2013

Walker, a great champion of Balakirev, makes a fabulous job of [Sonata in B flat minor (1905)]. It is to be hoped that, along with other recent recordings, this will help it to gain its rightful place as one of the great piano sonatas.

It is interesting going back in time to hear the other two sonatas. Each contains the germs of the final version. Together with the 1905 final version they make this disc an extremely valuable resource and one that will repay repeated hearings.

All the playing is exemplary and Nicholas Walker…has added another powerful voice to the demands for a reappraisal of this neglected composer. © MusicWeb International Read complete review

James Harrington
American Record Guide, September 2013

Walker finds inner voices and emphasizes some different aspects of the harmony and form, making for a new and well thought out interpretation. He has the full technical capability to handle all of the demands of this score, which also bodes well for future volumes in the series.

If you are as enamored of Balakirev as I am, this belongs in your collection. I suspect the coming volumes will as well, assuming they are up to the high standards set by this initial release. © 2013 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Colin Clarke
International Piano, September 2013

This is a fascinating disc, the first volume of a cycle of the complete Balakirev piano works. All three of these works are in the same key, but such is the compelling nature of Balakirev’s writing that there is no sense of listener fatigue in a straight playthrough. Nicholas Walker, who provides his own booklet notes, is as eloquent in his writing as in his playing. Walker lavishes love on the gentle counterpoint of the opening Andantino in the Lyapunov-dedicated 1905 Sonata, and his gait is characterful in the ensuing Mazurka; yet the tissue-delicate Intermezzo is the clear highlight of his reading. The Op 5 Sonata (1856) is more compact. Walker perhaps underplays Balakirev’s nods to Mussorgsky, but triumphs in the almost Mozartian restraint of the finale. Finally, he gives a strong performance of the unfinished ‘Grande’ Sonata. © 2019 International Piano

Werner Theurich
Spiegel Online, June 2013

This CD, recorded by the British pianist and Balakirev expert Nicholas Walker […] combines three opulent sonatas (including a first recording), providing a vital impression of Balakirev’s music stylistically and technically. […] The fireworks that Nicholas Walker set off here are fun and provide the perfect introduction to the popular power of the “neo Russian school”. © Spiegel Online

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, June 2013

…all three [piano sonatas], especially as grouped together in this way, provide you with some of the most wonderful, cosmically romantic piano music you can hear anywhere, and of course it’s all very Russian. Nicholas Walker gives us rousingly moving performances that bear up under close listening yet give you a widely brushed, dramatic largeness and a hushed suspended feeling alternatingly in the grand tradition.

As a confirmed Russophile I am very happy to have this volume. You will be, too…if the music of this period gives you pleasure. It creates in me a deep respect for the Balakirev of the sonatas. © 2013 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, May 2013

Mili Alekseyevich Balakirev is the forgotten leader of ‘The Mighty Handful’, a group of Russian composers that included Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin and Mussorgsky. A fabulous pianist and noted conductor, he championed their music at the expense of his own, a situation made worse by the fact that he wrote so little down, though he would play his works to his friends from memory. Today he is only regularly heard in concerts by virtue of his piano work, Islamey; though his symphonies get an occasional airing, and his Piano Concertos creep into the programmes of the adventurous. The present disc is the first in a complete cycle of his solo piano music and contains his three sonatas. The highly informative booklet will take you through each beginning in 1855 with the ‘Grande Sonate’, a rather optimistic title for an eighteen-year-old; through a revised version, which he described as his Premiere Sonate, and finally, after a period of fifty years, his Sonata in B flat minor which can be seen as the end point in a long gestation period. From the outset he seems intent on flexing his own muscles as a pianist, with music of considerable difficulty and complexity It would be too simplistic to describe them as Russian versions of the famous B flat minor sonata of Liszt, but it will place it in perspective for those who have yet to hear the work. On this disc they are played by one of Balakirev’s foremost champions, the British pianist, Nicholas Walker. He does not hide the technical hurdles the composer presents, but his performances are impressive and hugely enjoyable. I look forward to future releases, and most strongly commend this to you. © David’s Review Corner

Bertrand Boissard

Nicholas Walker serves this music with brio, without any loss of intensity © Diapason

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