Notes and Editorial Reviews
"The only one of these discs which really does say something fresh about the music is Demidenko’s. He doesn’t hold together the first movement of the sonata as rationally as Shelley because his contrasts of mood are so strong they disrupt the flow; and the tempo of the third movement is so extreme it loses a sense of line. But the Scherzo is as light as gossamer and the finale has both a heroic sense of struggle and passages of the most delicate filigree.
Demidenko keeps you on the edge of your seat because you’re never quite sure how he will play anything. His swings between poignancy and fury in the second Ballade are quite unprecedented. He floats the lyrical later stages of the fourth Ballade with ravishing buoyancy
and opens up a glimpse of heaven before the final torrent which Badura-Skoda never suspected was there."
-- Adrian Jack, BBC Music Magazine
This is lovely playing which I enjoyed from first note to last for its poetry and passion as well as seemingly effortless keyboard fluency and command. Even if you may question this or that aspect of interpretation, always there is a sense of wonder, as of magical new discovery. Demidenko takes nothing for granted.
I had the impression that Chopin for him is just as much a Eusebius and Florestan as Schumann. In other words, he makes very strong contrasts between Chopin the lyrical dreamer and Chopin the passionate patriot. I did sometimes feel that in ruminative mood he was inclined to over-relax in a dream-world as it were outside time, at the expense of the music's natural flow, its longer sense of direction. The Sonata's Largo, idyllic though its 1105" minutes are, is a case in point. Even in the first movement he slows from a proud opening tempo of crotchet=c. 114 to crotcher=c. 82 for the meltingly sung second subject, as well as introducing a very pronounced unrequested ritenuto just before the recapitulation. The Scherzo is delectably light and fluid, and the finale as memorable for the liquid brilliance of its secondary theme as for the cumulative strength and might of the movement as a whole.
He lingers very lovingly and expressively over the opening subjects of all four Ballades even if his response to the Andante of No. 2, the Allegretto of No. 3 and the Andante con mob o of No. 4 might perhaps be thought a shade slower than Chopin intended. The bigger climaxes when they come are stirringly ablaze. My only serious regret is that at the height of the fray in the F minor Ballade he chooses (as Ashkenazy used to) to hold down his pedal through the dramatic silent pause just before those five magical pianissimo chords that come like a voice from another world. The recording is admirably truthful.
-- J.O.C., Gramophone [11/1993]
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