Sunday 28th August 2016
Nicholas Young (Piano)
Sometimes life can be very cruel. Daniel Herscovitch whom we have been privileged to have before in St Judeís, was scheduled to perform. Sadly there was a terrible family tragedy and he simply could not come. He was able to arrange for Nicholas Young to come in his stead. Despite the grim circumstances we were fortunate that Mr Young was in Sydney and could come; it was a wonderful performance.
Nicholas was a student of Daniel Herscovitch at the Sydney Conservatorium from which he, Nicholas, graduated in 2013 with the highest of honours including the University Medal (the Con now being part of the University of Sydney). As I walked out to my car afterwards I exchanged words with a lady who had been present. We both agreed it was a marvellous performance by a young - and extremely talented - musician; in fact she said that his performance literally brought tears to her eyes.
Nicholas began with Beethoven - his notes indicate that in 2015 he won a prize in London for his performance of Beethoven. In this instance he performed the Piano Sonata No. 11 and hardly being in the capacity of such a judge, surely this performance was prize worthy. Nicholas followed with two pieces by an Australian composer who died towards the end of World War II -Roy Agnew. (Agnew was born in Sydney towards the end of the 19th Century and was an accomplished pianist and composer.) The first was the Sonata Legend: Capricornia from 1940 and the second an earlier work, Fantastic Sonata.
After a brief interval Nicholas returned to the much earlier Baroque period. He presented three Preludes and Fugues from Johann S Bachís The Well-Tempered Clavier (and I did have to check to be sure of the Clavier which Brittanica in effect says is a late 17th Century generic name for a keyboard instrument, including the harpsichord, the clavichord and the piano). The program finished with Franz Liszt (who may be thought of as from the late Classical period) and two really lovely albeit rather different and evocative pieces. The proper name is Two Legends, S.175 from 1863 and the pieces are, first, St. Francis of Assisi: Sermon of the Birds and then St Francis of Paola: Walking on the Waves. St Francis of Assisi is of course very well known and the delightful evocation of birds was in keeping with some of the stories of this Saint. However again I had to check St Francis of Paola. He was a15th Century friar (never ordained) who, after being educated by the Franciscans, established what became an order of friars, the Minims. When canonised he was given a Saintís name for his town of birth. Nicholas told us that this piece, Walking on the Waves, supposedly was based on a miraculous event akin to walking on water. Certainly the piece, and Nicholasí playing, evoked the sea, sometimes really turbulent, others more calm and gentle.
To return to the beginning, all present were distressed to learn why Daniel Herscovitch could not be present. Our thoughts went to him and his family, including gratitude for him arranging to have this remarkable young pianist, Nicholas Young, come and perform.
29th August 2016