Riyad Nicolas at St Mary’s Refined beauty in the name of peace

Tuesday February 23rd 4.00 pm 

Schubert: Valses nobles D 969

Schubert: Sonata in A D 664

Schubert: Impromptu in F minor D 935 no 1

Schubert/Liszt: 2 Song transcriptions
-Auf dem Wasser zu singen
-Gretchen am Spinnrade

Scriabin: Etude Op 8 no 9

Some beautifully controlled playing of Schubert from the stylish Valses nobles to the simplicity and innocence of the ‘little ‘ Sonata in A .The brooding mystery of the late Impromptu was answered by Liszt’s magical transcriptions of two of his most mellifluous songs.A virtuoso performance of Scriabin brought the recital by a true musician to a sumptuous conclusion.
Such delicacy and beauty only underlined the tragedy that his home city of Aleppo has endured for too long.

There was a great sense of style to the beautifully shaped Schubert waltzes.A perfect balance between the hands that allowed the melodic line to be so sensitively shaped with colours that really brought these charming pieces vividly to life.Some very rhythmic contrasts too but always in perfect style with the irresistible lilt that is so much part of the Viennese charm.There was a very refined sense of phrasing in the Sonata in A that allowed the music to sing so naturally with a controlled eloquence that was so compelling.The Andante flowed so mellifluously and must be one of Schubert’s most touchingly beautiful creations.The duet between the voices was full of magical colours but always with a rich sound that was never sentimental.The Allegro had a playful innocence that brought this most sunny of Schubert’s sonatas to a charming end.

The imperious opening of the late F minor Impromptu broke the spell as the simple innocence of the Sonata takes on the profound significance of the last works of Schubert’s all too short life.The transition to the beautiful middle section was very moving as the dialogue between the bass and treble became ever more entwined.The flowing accompaniment was the same on which Gretchen was to spin her magic wheel and the water to flow so gently in Liszt’s transcriptions.There was passion too but always within this sound world of pure luxurious velvet that seemed to flow so naturally from Riyad’s hands.The passionate outpouring of sounds in the Scriabin study just showed the true mastery that we had witnessed all afternoon.It is very refreshing to know that Riyad is using his great artistry to help promote peace and awareness of the tragedy that has befallen the Syrian people for too long.

Riyad Nicolas Syrian British Pianist, was born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1989, and has already established himself as a leading figure of his generation on the international performing circuit. He has given solo recitals in many prestigious venues at the UK, including Royal Albert Hall, Cadogan Hall, Wigmore Hall, Barbican, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, St. James’s Piccadilly, and Leighton House in London, and Bridgwater Hall and Staller Hall in Manchester. Concert performances have also taken him to USA including a debut at the Kennedy Center in Washington and Chicago Cultural Center(Dame Myra Hess series), Yehudi Menuhin Forum in Switzerland and other performing venues in France, Spain, Germany, Holland, Malta, the Gulf, Lebanon and Syria. In the UK, Riyad is regularly invited to give recitals hosted by the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe and the Chopin Society UK, and performed extensively a solo pianist for over 80 music societies in the UK. He has also been invited to performing numerous UK musical festivals such as Harrogate, Norfolk-Norwich, King’s Lynn, Brighton, Devon, Darlington, Stratford-upon-Avon, Lincoln, Crediton, and Eastbourne. Riyad has been selected to be a Tillett Trust Young Artist and an artist at the Countess of Munster Trust Concert Scheme in the UK. He has also won numerous international prizes and awards including First Prize with a recording contract at the Francaix International Piano Competition in Paris, the first Prize at the Ference Liszt International Piano Competition, and the first prize at the Norah Sande Award and the Christopher Duke Recital Prize in the UK. He also won Second Prize at the Seiler International Piano Competition in Greece and the Ciutat de Carlet International Piano Competition in Spain, Educational Award Prize at The London International Piano competition and was a finalist at the Busoni International Piano Competition in Italy. Riyad first came to London in 2005 when he was awarded a two-year scholarship to study at the Purcell School of Music with Sulamita Aronovsky, continuing to work with her at the Royal Academy of Music, where he graduated in 2011. In June 2015, Riyad graduated with a distinction in a Master of Performance course at the Royal College of Music, studying with Dmitri Alexeev and Vanessa Latarche, when he won the Gold Medal at the prestigious Chappell Piano Competition.Riyad also teaches piano at the Junior Department of Guildhall School of Music, Dartford Grammar School and Woodford Green School. Through music Riyad has been promoting peace and raising awareness for the plights of the Syrian people and performing for many organizations such as UNHCR, the International Rescue Committee, the Arab British Centre, Said and Asfari Foundation.


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