ROSA TAMARKINA (1920-1950)
Russian pianist

At rare moments in history someone of genius comes along who electrifies the heavens with an explosion of light and color, only to be extinguished prematurely by the cruelty of fate.  Rosa Tamarkina was such a genius.

Tamarkina studied at the Moscow Conservatory and eventually with Konstantin Igumnov.  She began to concertize at the age of 15 and was invited to participate in the 3rd International Chopin Competition in 1937 at the age of 17.

Judges of the caliber of Emil von Sauer and Wilhelm Backhaus awarded her second prize.  To put this achievement in perspective, the first prize winner that year was Yakov Zak, one of the great Russian pianists of the mid-century.  10 years earlier the 1st International Chopin Competition winner was Lev Oborin, another of the supreme Russian giants of the piano.

She had a wide ranging repertoire, from Bach to the moderns (at that time Scriabin and Rachmaninoff).  It was considered that she could play them all beautifully and with a maturity that belied her age.  But she is most remembered, by those fortunate enough to have heard her, for her interpretations of Chopin, Schumann and Liszt.

One can only imagine what a treasure of recorded riches she would have left to the world had she lived another 30 or 40 years.

Rosa Tamarkina's performance of Sergei Rachmaninoff's second piano concerto is among the finest I have ever heard and is the unique example of her playing with orchestra that I have been able to find.  It is perhaps the only one that exists, but it is sufficient to demonstrate her mastery of that idiom.  There are also several examples of her artistry as a chamber musician, the Franck violin sonata, the Brahms piano quintet and the Tanaev piano quintet.

Below are performances of piano music by Chopin, Schubert, Liszt, and Rachmaninoff, as well as several Liszt transcriptions of Schubert Songs, and the Liszt Paraphrase on Verdi's Rigoletto.

Schubert  Impromptus , Op 90 (D 899)

in E major (
rec in 1946)

3 in G major

Chopin  Étude in G major, Op 10~5 "Black Keys"

Chopin  Étude in F minor, Op 25~2 "The Bees"

Chopin  Scherzo 3 in C minor, Op 39

recorded in 1947-48

Chopin  Fantaisie in F minor, Op 49

Part I

Part II

Chopin  Mazurka in F minor, Op 59~3

Chopin Polonaise Fantaisie in A major, Op 61

Schumann  Drei Phantasiestücke, Op 111

1 in C minor
02:102 in A major
06:563 c-moll

recorded in 1948

Liszt  Sonetto 104 del Petrarca
from the Années de Pelerinage Deuxième Année: Italie

Liszt  Hungarian Rhapsody 10 in E major

recorded in 1948

Schubert-Liszt  "Der Müller und der Bach"

Schubert-Liszt  "Erstarrung"

Verdi-Liszt  Rigoletto Concert Paraphrase for Piano, S 434
Liszt  Hungarian Rhapsody 10 in E major

recorded in 1935 what Tamarkina was 15 years ol

Verdi-Liszt  Rigoletto Concert Paraphrase for Piano, S 434

recorded in 1940

recorded in 1947

Rachmaninoff  Prelude in C minor, Op 23~7

recorded in 1947

Rachmaninoff  Piano Concerto 2 in C minor, Op 18
Nikolai Anosov conducting an unidentified Russian Orchestra

recorded in 1948

i Moderato

ii Adagio sostenuto

iii Allegro scherzando

Franck  Sonata for Violin and Piano in A major
with Marina Kozolupova, violin
i Allegretto ben moderato
ii Allegro
iii Recitative-Fantasia: Ben moderato:
iv Allegretto poco mosso

recorded in 1948

Brahms  Piano Quintet in F minor, Op 34
with the Bolshoi Theatre Quartet
[Igor Zhuk and Boris Veltman, violins - Mikhail Gurvich, viola - Isaak Buravsky, cello]

i Allegro non troppo
13:45ii Andante, un poco adagio
22:46iii Scherzo - Allegro
29:58iv Finale - Poco sostenuto. Allegro non troppo. Presto, non troppo

recorded in 1947

[ Perhaps this one will be reposted by someone. ]

This 1946 recording of Rosa Tamarkina Playing the Sergei Taneyev Quintet further demonstrates her enormous talent.  As in Tamarkina's performance of the Rachmaninoff Concerto, she is on an equal footing with the other members of the quintet, and when necessary can dominate easily. Hers is a mind more than capable of holding the context of the architecture of an entire movement or work while creating irresistible motion toward the conclusion.

The Taneyev Quintet is scored for piano, two violins, viola and cello, played here by members of the Bolshoi Theatre Quartet. It is a big piece, aggressively brooding at times, but without excessive sentimentality. Taming it is no mean feat. This performance does it great justice.

Tanaev  Piano Quintet in G minor, Op 30

ia Introduzione. Adagio mesto. Allegro patetico (beginning)

ib Introduzione. Adagio mesto. Allegro patetico (conclusion)

ii Scherzo: Presto. Moderato teneramente

iii Largo

iv Finale: Allegro vivace. Moderato maestoso

For those of you who enjoy murder mysteries, here is my first with a strong musical polemic as background

Murder in the House of the Muse

which is also available as an audiobook.

And this is the more recently published second mystery in the series:

Murder Follows the Muse

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