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Nicolas Giacalone - Solo Piano Recital

The Jeanne Rimsky Theatre, Main Street, Port Washington, was the setting for Nicolas Giacalone’s fifth and final solo piano recital on March 30, that is, before he starts his first year at college as a music performance major. For the past 12 of his 17 years he has been a star pupil of the Bottazzi Music School under the direct tutelage of Dr.s Ana Maria Trenchi and Bruno Bottazzi. Nicolas doesn’t have to ask, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall” (practice/practice/practice) because he has performed there 16 times already! Add to those three performances at Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts and several other competition venues where he emerged as a winner. By the way, his weekly practice totals about 25 hours.


At Manhasset High School Nicolas has been an active participant in the music department’s many offerings, performing on trumpet and drums with the marching band and trumpet with the Wind Ensemble, Wind Quintet and the Chamber and Symphonic Orchestras. He has recently performed the piano accompaniment for the Mozart Requiem with the NYSSMA Choir students. On April 9 he will be performing the Mendelssohn Concerto in G Minor, Opus 25, as piano soloist with the school orchestra.


Nicolas’s talent and maturity were showcased brilliantly in this fifth solo recital of selections by Beethoven, Chopin and Debussy. He opened his program with the Beethoven 32 Variations in C Minor which require the pianist to use all the elements of a well rounded technique: runs, octaves, touch control, leaps, finger strength, etc. Next was the Beethoven, “Waldstein” Sonata in C Major, Opus 53, a taxing work that needs a powerful and brilliant technique. This listener was most impressed by Nicolas’s fluid, steady and always moving forward 1st movement opening bars. The 3rd movement’s equally taxing Rondo’s beautiful piper’s tune in the treble radiated as at a sunrise and culminated in the beautiful full sun capped by the cut- time coda of the tune. 


After the intermission Nicolas convinced this listener that he could also re-create the mature Debussy’s Reflets dans l’eau with his delicate touch. The water really rippled but did not sway too much or stop. 


Nicolas chose Chopin’s Etude No. 4 in C# Minor, Opus 10, from the first of two sets of 12 etudes each in a different key and each with a different pianistic skill demanded of the performer. This etude is an excellent finger study, which he played with aplomb. The Ballade, No. 1 in G Minor, which closed the program is an example of Chopin’s fine poetic skills with its emotional swings going from gentleness to fire brand fury. Like the other three ballades, it is technically difficult. This ballade has cross rhythms, octave scales and tempo challenges galore. The audience stood, clapped and cheered with admiration after this piece.


For an encore there was “Chopsticks,” arranged by Andrew Johnson, with credits to Franz Liszt and Frederic Chopin and some American jazz stirred into the mix. This was not a beginner’s piece though. All the pianistic techniques imaginable were required often with dizzying finger speed. It was a perfect ending to a wonderful recital.


Betty Bock is a retired public school music educator, pianist and a Manhasset resident.