Hailed by the London Evening Standard as a ‘prodigy, of awesome technical fluency backed by exceptional artistry’, Nicholas Walker possesses a rare combination of talents combining sensitivity with ‘the flair of a full scale virtuoso and a sparkling intelligence’ (BBC Music Magazine).
He studied at the Royal Academy of Music, where he won all the major awards for both piano and composition, and subsequently at the Moscow Conservatoire.
While still a student in Moscow, he won the First Newport International Piano Competition and has since played with many British Orchestras, including the City of Birmingham and National Symphony Orchestras, the Royal Philharmonic, London Mozart Players, the London Festival and New Queen’s Hall Orchestras, the Philharmonia and the BBC National Symphony Orchestra of Wales. As well as performing in all the major London concert halls, he has played in North and South America, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Scandinavia, Australia and Russia. He has recorded for BBC Radio 3, Cirrus, ASV, BMG Arte Nova, Chandos, Toccata Classics and Naxos Grand Piano. Equally at home in chamber music, he is sought after as an imaginative and sensitive accompanist, and his CD with Lydia Mordkovitch of Russian violin music was Daily Telegraph CD of the week.
Although Walker’s performances of Beethoven have brought him special notice, and his performances of the lyrical and late romantic piano music have also been singled out for the highest praise, it is for his championing of the cause of the neglected leader of ‘The Mighty Handful’, Mili Alexei Balakirev, that he is best known. Described by the Financial Times as ‘the nearest thing to a natural Balakirev performer’, Walker’s two discs of Balakirev piano music for ASV (CD DCA 940 & 1048) received great critical acclaim, and he has also received high praise for his performances of other Russian composers, including his live recording of the Liapunov Sonata on Danacord (DACOCD 539), described by Jeremy Nicholas as ‘thrilling… a tour de force’
His now complete series for Naxos Grand Piano is however unique, in that it introduces music that has never before been performed or published, including a substantial sonata and works that Nicholas has finished off himself. All the CDs garnered enthusiastic reviews, and CD3 was CD of the week on Musiq3. James Harrington of the American Record Guide has called them the “reference set”; Damian Thompson, writing in the Spectator, said that the series “has to be heard to be believed”, while Jeremy Nicholas in the Gramophone described the playing as “bravura with integrity”.
Nicholas’s next recording project is a double CD of all the Liszt etudes and the Sonata in B minor.