Martin Duffy, Thursday 11 June 2015

Nikolai Demidenko review: Moments of brilliance from Russian pianist

“Russian pianist Nikolai Demidenko was superb in a much anticipated recital that gave a contemporary account of Chopin interpretation filled with spontaneity, personality and moments of rare brilliance. In contrast to the more nuanced instrument of Chopin’s time, the modern piano offers more projection and wider range of tonal colours. Demidenko’s very personal pedalling exploits both, giving clarity of voice as required yet he also exploits the multiplication of its sustaining effects.

Demidenko’s eloquent opening bracket interspersed the waltz and mazurka with clear exposition of the essential wit and charm of these beguiling dance forms. He breathes life into Chopin’s degrees of freedom, unexpected little tricks and mercurial changes of mood.

The Piano Sonata No 2 in B flat minor, Op 35 was an abrupt change of intensity. Demidenko appeared eager to progress swiftly between movements, preserving the developing tension. While there were many pyrotechnics in this program, it was often the simple dialogue between left and right hands, such as the contrasting D flat major section of the funeral march, that most impressed.

Chopin often composed in groups of four – the Impromptus, Ballades, Scherzi – yet he composed only one Berceuse, which provided momentary relief between the intensity of its framing works. Chopin’s elevation of the Scherzo was validated by this authoritative account of these four diverse narratives that alternate heft and gossamer levity. The perfection of studio recording is always alluring, however the risk taking that successfully suffused this live performance will hopefully always find its place.”

Martin Duffy