Photo credit: Jean Wong

Nicholas McCarthy

ReLIVE the recital – 28 January 2015

One-handed pianist Nicholas McCarthy opened the 2015 Rhinegold LIVE season with a foray into piano music for the left hand. Born without his right hand, Nicholas made press headlines around the world in 2012 when he became the only one-handed pianist to graduate from the Royal College of Music in its 130 year history.

The concert included Scriabin’s Prelude and Nocturne for the left hand, as well as transcriptions by Count Geza Zichy (a pupil of Liszt who lost his arm in a childhood hunting accident), Paul Wittgenstein (the Austrian concert pianist who lost his right arm during the First World War) and Nicholas’ own arrangement of Ivor Novello’s We’ll Gather Lilacs.


© All photos © Ceri Wood Photography


“Playing with just the left hand requires the pianist to combine the melody and accompaniment in one, bringing out the melody line whilst the accompaniment ripples around it and with deft use of pedalling to sustain the melody. To a certain extent, the pianist needs to deceive the ear and for much of the time, if you closed your eyes you could imagine McCarthy was playing with both hands. Of course, it requires superb technique and great stamina as his one hand had to cover the entire keyboard, often at great speed… Novello’s attractive song is more complex than we give it credit for, and McCarthy’s arrangement embedded a lovely singing melody into a complex, flowing texture”

Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill