Notes and Editorial Reviews
Here is a Chopin recital with a difference. Demidenko intersperses a selection of largely mature masterpieces with the composer's earliest Polonaises, framing his recital with Nos. 11 (G minor) and 12 (B flat major) composed when he was seven. And that is merely one difference. There is not an ounce of fat on Demidenko's lean and muscular technique and musicianship, and you will be hard pressed to find playing of such super-fine precision and sensitivity; every note seems triple-sifted for all possible imperfection. The Polonaises may be jewel-like chippings from the master's earliest workshop, but here they are accorded all the care and imaginative brio normally lavished on Chopin's greatest works. At the other end of the scale the Allegro
de concert, Chopin's "Third Piano Concerto", is tossed aside with a fluency that totally belies its notorious difficulty. The 'tutti' is clarified and refined with a truly formidable lucidity and under such magisterial hands even the most ungrateful intricacy is made to dance on air. Where Arrau, to take a notable recording from the past (Columbia, 6/ 57), pants and puffs with exertion Demidenko dismisses every problem with the merest flick of the wrist. And, as ever with this pianist, there are many unconventional details to shake us from all possible complacency.
His chiming left-hand A flat, at the end of the Berceuse offers a counterbalance to the previous 'foreign' C flat, and the start of the Polonaise-fantaisie is conceived in a wholly individual style. The Polonaise proper, too, when it emerges from such magical remoteness and speculation is given with tiptoe delicacy rather than the usual pomp and circumstance; the manner is constantly fascinating in its poised if occasionally chilly perfection. The Bolero, where Chopin gratefully exchanges his initial Spanish colouring for a more congenial polonaise rhythm, is arguably short on charm and yet it is somehow typical of this pianist that he silences argument over a single point, however provocatively made.
The recordings are beautifully warm and immediate. This is among the most crystalline and exclusive Chopin recitals I have heard for some time; such pianism forbids even whispered comparisons.
-- Bryce Morrison, Gramophone [11/1992]
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