Nicholas Unwin is among the leading English pianists of his generation. While his repertory is extensive, he has tended to focus on twentieth century Spanish music and the works of countryman Michael Tippett. Unwin has made numerous recordings for Chandos and several smaller labels. In addition, he has appeared on BBC television and radio, as well as in the major concert halls of England, and in many in Europe and Japan.
While at the RCM he won a series of competition prizes, including the Cyril Smith Recital Prize and the Chappell Gold Medal. After graduation he continued success at competitions: at the Epinal International Piano Competition (France), he was given the Roussel Prize, and at the annual Royal Overseas League competition for young musicians he received the Schott and Eagle Star Awards.
Unwin soon developed an interest in the piano works of Tippett, as well as those of twentieth century Spanish composers. In 1991 he appeared in a documentary film about Tippett and thereafter formed a close relationship with the composer. He traveled to Madrid with Tippett in 1992, where he gave several acclaimed concerts of Spanish keyboard music. Two years later he performed Tippett's Piano Sonata No. 2 and No. 4 in a Radio France broadcast, in which the composer also participated.
Unwin recorded the Tippett Fourth Piano Sonata for the Metier label in 1996 and the first three sonatas that same year as well for Chandos. By this time, Unwin had also devoted much time and energy to twentieth century Spanish music via the establishment of mini-festivals, including one at his East Anglia home in 1995.
In 1998 Unwin's recording of music by Cuban-Spanish composer Joaquin Nin (-Culmell) was issued on the Centaur label to enthusiastic reviews. Unwin formed a trio in 1999 and with it performed many jazz concerts. That same year he relocated to Japan, wherefrom he established his base of music activity for the next five years. During this period, Chandos released his CD of Albeniz's masterpiece, Iberia (2000). Unwin returned to England in 2004. Shortly thereafter, he made a recording of piano music by twentieth century French composer Jean-Michel Damase, which was issued in 2006 on the Somm label.