Piano virtuoso Nicholas delights the audience

A LARGE audience was treated to a virtuoso performance by pianist Nicholas Nowicki at the latest of the autumn series of lunchtime concerts held at St George’s United Reformed Church.

Making a welcome return visit to Morpeth, Nicholas delighted the audience with some commanding and majestic piano playing, which was totally out of the top drawer.

He is currently visiting piano tutor at Newcastle Royal Grammar School and Musical Director of St Paul’s Youth Ensemble. Nicholas, who also conducts, is in great demand as a concerto soloist and recitalist across Britain and has performed at many prestigious events.

His programme for this concert was most ambitious, requiring great skill and total command of the keyboard.

Beethoven’s piano music is most challenging, but Nicholas’ rendering of his Sonata No. 30 in E Major was an inspiration. Written in three contrasting movements, this was one of the composer’s last works and it reflects his maturity and compositional skills. Nicholas in all three movements performed with total control and elegance. The very fast moving passages of the last two movements were particularly clear and concise, especially the Sarabande with its six contrasting variations.

He followed with four short pieces by Brahms, three Intermezzi and a final Rhapsody, four compositions which constitute the composer’s final output of music for Solo Piano. There are numerous changes in tempo, alternating with huge chords interspersed with rapid staccato passages. The final Rhapsody, which Brahms described as a ‘bombastic musical experience’, was a fitting conclusion to a composition which Nicholas performed with great skill and aplomb, the gorgeous minor chords in the first two movements being particularly memorable.

Chopin’s Polonaise in A flat major, which has to be performed note perfect because of its familiarity, rounded off the recital. Huge chords and fast flowing passages take the soloist over most of the keys on the piano, but Nicholas displayed a total technical mastery and musical awareness which made this performance an outstanding musical experience.

This recital from start to finish was a masterclass on the piano and an enthusiastic and appreciative audience applauded loud and long at its conclusion. The last concert of the series will be held on Wednesday, December 12, by the Sorella Brass Quintet.