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Damian Thompson
The Spectator, October 2020

Enter Nicholas Walker, a self-effacing teacher at the Royal Academy of Music whose virtuosity and profound grasp of musical structure has been a mysteriously well-kept secret. He has just completed a Balakirev cycle for the Grand Piano label that has to be heard to be believed: I almost want to see video proof that there aren’t three hands on the keyboard in the Reminiscences of Glinka’s ‘A Life for the Tsar’. The set is more complete than Paley’s, infinitely better played and includes Walker’s own magical transcription of Tamara.

…there’s no doubt in my mind that Nicholas Walker has finally emerged as one of Britain’s greatest pianists. © 2020 The Spectator Read complete review

Records International, September 2020

Rarities featured in the last volume of this series are previously unpublished and unrecorded miniatures—pieces that are both poetic and, in the case of the Elegy on the Death of a Mosquito, witty.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. © 2020 Records International

David Denton
David's Review Corner, September 2020

This sixth, and final volume in the complete piano works of Mili Alekseyevich Balakirev, is largely a ‘sweeping-up’ disc of shorter pieces and arrangements.

In his lifetime he became famous as the driving force of the group of five composers including Rimsky-Korsakov and Borodin, the time spent on that activity, to an extent, limiting his own catalogue of works that was quite small. It was a fact not helped by his lack of resolve to commit to manuscript the improvisations he would play to friends, this together with the time spent both as a superb pianist and famous conductor. We are indebted to the British pianist, Nicholas Walker, for providing this ‘definitive’ six-disc collection, that brought with it a showcase of his own virtuosity. Many are cameos, such as La Fileusea picture of a spinning wheel, a score with its demands for mercurial fingers, and a perfect foil for the gentle picture of Au Jardin (In the Garden) that follows. To include everything Balakirev wrote for the keyboard, Walker adds arrangements of orchestral works by Glinka, and then goes one step further by arranging for keyboard Balakirev’s orchestral work, Tamara. A sizeable and picturesque score that Balakirev would often play on the piano for his friend’s enjoyment. It is appropriate that Walker has concluded this very long disc with the composer’s best known, and most frequently played work, Islamey. Here, and through the whole release he has been unfazed by Balakirev’s demands, his tempos always well judged. One of Grand Pianos most desirable series. © 2020 David’s Review Corner

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