Riyad Nicholas (piano)

The opening of Cockermouth Music Society’s 2015-2016 season brought a wonderful young pianist, Riyad Nicolas, to the town. Sponsored by the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, the programme began with a Bach Prelude and Fugue (Book 2 No 1) , followed by one of Beethoven’s greatest Sonatas (No 31 in A flat, Op 110), in which the pianist’s beautiful touch produced some magical effects at times , even if his usual comprehensive control of technique wavered slightly at one point. The final section tempi alternating in the Arioso and Fugue were excellently managed. Chopin’s brilliant Study in A minor (Op.25. No 11) was powerfully played and Liszt’s Paganini Etude provided a good contrast. After the interval Scarlatti Sonatas were well handled, technically and musically secure, and Gaspard de la Nuit gave us some of the best playing of the evening, technically formidable and the repeated sounding note with echo effect in Le Gibet standing out in my mind as a really dramatic musical moment. Riyad is a powerful player, his sound being almost thunderous at times (“ gave the new piano a good workout!” commented many), but technically and musically he has so much to offer that he showed all the attributes of a pianist with a great future. This was an evening of great contrast and continual interest and we sincerely wish him well.