"Here's a little tour of Eastern European nationalist thinking between the time of the grand Romantic idiom and the modern, abstract ethnomusicological way of thinking about folk music. None of these works is well known, and a lesser pianist than Britain's Nicola Meecham would have closed out the program with Bartok for maximum audience appeal. But Meecham is just right to end with Kodaly's Seven Pieces, Op. 11, which focus the program more clearly and connect it to Debussy, whose experimentation with scales and modes allowed all three of these composers to accomplish the things they did. George Enescu and Leos Janacek use the qualities of their national music (Romanian, specifically Moldavian in Enescu's case, and Czech, specifically Moravian in Janacek's) in an almost psychological way, to suggest flashes of troubled memory. Meecham combines an intelligent program with a superb performance that is alert to the threads of suppressed emotion in the Janacek work without stinting on the sheer Lisztian power in parts of the Kodaly. Anthony Burton's notes (in English only), linking all these impulses to the wider question of nationality in the waning days of the Habsburg empire, are another attraction. Highly recommended." James Manhelm/Allmusic
"Recorded in 2012, this CD gives us both of Tchaikovsky’s piano sonatas: the early (1865) Sonata in C♯ Minor, posthumously assigned the opus number of 80, and the Grande Sonate, op. 37 of 1878, plus four shorter works for solo piano. This is the second CD on SOMM by Nicola Meecham, who was not previously known to me; the first, featuring music by Janáček, Kodály, and Enescu, appears not to have been reviewed in Fanfare, but was well received elsewhere.
The op. 37 Sonata is full of what Andrew Huth, in the notes for the BIS recording by Freddy Kempf (Fanfare 39:6), aptly calls “big public gestures”; to my ears it sometimes seems to substitute these for profundity, and in the first movement especially there is a certain amount of note-spinning. Meecham has plenty of power for the opening theme, but also plays up the movement’s lyricism. She is limber in the cross-rhythms of the Scherzo, and likewise projects clearly the rhythmic structure of the Finale’s first theme. Her interpretation is a compromise between Kempf’s fleet, sometimes hurried approach and the broader, heavier interpretation of Nicolai Lugansky (41:2), which I would avoid.
Despite the obvious advocacy of Somm’s annotator Robert Matthew-Walker, the early C♯-Minor Sonata is clearly weak in places; the second movement, with Tchaikovsky’s successively more elaborate statements of his main theme, is somewhat square, and the Scherzo—which was to be reused in the First Symphony—meanders at the point of the transition to the final movement. The ending—Matthew-Walker treats Tchaikovsky’s use of D♭ Major as though it were somehow exceptional, when in fact an ending in the parallel major (spelled enharmonically here) is common coin in minor-mode pieces—is rather abrupt. Meecham makes about as good a case for the sonata as can be made, which is saying something.
Of the shorter works, two—the Humoresque and the Feuillet d’album—are probably best known through Stravinsky’s use of them in his ballet Le baiser de la fée. In the Feuillet d’album as well as the Nocturne, Meecham is attractively understated; only in the Humoresque does she seem a little flat-footed. The inventive Doumka (or Dumka), possibly the most original of Tchaikovsky’s shorter works for piano, is absolutely convincing here.
Both Kempf and Meecham are worth hearing in the G-Major Sonata; the former is more exciting but also a little hectic in places. Ultimately a decision may best be based on the coupling, which in Kempf’s case is The Seasons, Tchaikovsky’s collection of 12 pieces based on the months of the year. This is a more important work than the early sonata given here, but the reader is also more likely already to own a recording of it, so it’s up to you. Richard A. Kaplan/Fanfare Magazine
“Schubert's G major sonata, D894…was a really compelling experience. The background calm of the first movement was superbly maintained, allowing the eruptive climaxes to stand out all the more sharply. The third movement had a truculence that was not out of place, while the distant vision of the trio section was genuinely poignant. A triumphant performance of Prokofiev's 2nd Sonata ended the evening, with a fine control of the driving rhythms in the Scherzo, a beautifully shaded approach to the third movement's big climax, and unflagging energy in the finale.” Music and Vision
"To control not only the notes of Schumann’s long and congested F sharp minor sonata, Op 11, but to perform them in a convincing way, takes a very special sort of pianist. Nicola Meecham, who chose it as centerpiece of her lunchtime recital at Edinburgh University yesterday, certainly proved equal to the task.
Even, in the finale, by which point many performers are suffering loss of will-power, this deceptively demure young player made each resounding statement of the main theme gather an unstoppable force, strong enough to sweep aside all the intervening passagework and drive the music to its conclusion… One of her virtues was that she could focus on a melodic line without letting it become entangled in the convoluted figuration and obsessive rhythms which dominate the work. Thick textures evidently held no fears for her. The transcriptions of six Gershwin songs, with which she completed her programme, sounded quite Lisztian; but they, too, were impressively put over.” The Scotsman
"Nicola Meecham gave a short recital in which Leighton's Six Studies (Study Variations) op 56, impressed by their inventiveness and economy. She is a confident and accomplished player.'' The Times
''Wednesday's concert got off to a fine start with Leighton's Six Studies for piano, strongly realized by Nicola Meecham. It is very much to her credit that her playing constantly drew attention to the music itself rather than to the often hair-raising technical challenges posed by the works in her recital. In Roberto Gerhard's Dances from Don Quixote (played from memory) she seemed completely at ease. lndividual voices were clearly differentiated - so much so that I soon forgot that I was listening to a transcription of a complex orchestral score.'' The Musical Times
"Accomplished and intelligent . . . she gave a lively account of the Dances from Don Quixote.'' The Daily Telegraph
''A strong and commanding musician - I look forward to hearing her soon in some mainstream repertoire.” The Financial Times
''Nicola Meecham, from England. further perfected her interpretation and affinity for the music of Janáček, whose piano cycle In the mist she played with extraordinary understanding.'' Prague Evening News
"Lambert's Piano Sonata made a striking impression in a superbly rhythmic and zestful performance by Nicola Meecham.'' The Guardian
''Constant Lambert was represented by his brilliant Piano Sonata of 1927, which Nicola Meecham gave with sweeping confidence.'' The Times
“…beautifully played by Nicola Meecham. This type of performance is not easy to pull off: the pianist has to be spot-on with response to the Speaker's Narrative, illustrating each episode with unerring capture of mood. She did it all to perfection. I want to hear her in other music - an artist with a future, no doubt at all." Musical Opinion
"Without a doubt, Meecham with her highly-accomplished performances, the SOMM Recordings label for the great fidelity and care with which they have captured this on disc, and, of course, Matthew-Walker’s advocacy throughout his interesting and compelling sleeve-notes, have all sought to present a united front in favour of the greater acceptance of Tchaikovsky’s solo-piano music, and particularly the larger forms like the two sonatas. ...it would seem appropriate to comment on the quite superb playing by British pianist Nicola Meecham throughout the CD as a whole... which makes it a real little gem. This new CD does Tchaikovsky absolutely no disservice as far as his works for piano and orchestra, chamber music with piano, and piano miniatures are concerned – in fact, quite the opposite in terms of the latter." Philip R Buttall/Musicweb International
"...when confronted by a disc such as this, containing the two completed (sonatas) in very fine performances, so well recorded, one can only bemoan the fact of their relative obscurity. Nicola Meecham here delivers performances of considerable distinction, which are moreover excellently recorded so that our gratitude for this greatly-gifted artist is manifold. I hope to hear more from this fine artist in the not too distant future." James Palmer/Musical Opinion
"Nicola Meecham’s playing enlivens this pleasant if not especially memorable work (Op 80 Sonata). The mature Grande Sonate in G major is more assured and imposing. Meecham is suitably resolute in the opening, if a fraction slow, and her articulation of the finale’s flood of notes is impressive – best of all is the tender drooping melancholy of the Andante. Four short pieces find Tchaikovsky, and Meecham, at their best: a delicate Nocturne Op.19 No.4 and Feuillet d’album Op.19 No.3; the well-known Humoresque Op. 10 No. 2; and a fiery Doumka in C minor." Norman Stinchcombe/Birmingham Post
"Tchaikovsky’s piano sonatas aren't the most graceful works but Meecham makes a good case for them” BBC Music Magazine