Notes and Editorial Reviews
Demidenko's fifth Hyperion record adds fuel to an already formidable legend. Even in an impossibly competitive field his Liszt Sonata stands out among the most imperious and articulate. His opening is more precisely judged than by Pizarro in his recent and absorbing Collins debut recital (see above) and once the Sonata is under its inflammatory way his virtuosity is of a kind to which few other pianists could pretend. The combination of punishing weight and a skittering, light-fingered agility makes for a compulsive vividness yet his economy in the first cantando espressivo, sung without a trace of luxuriance or indulgence, is no less typical. There are admittedly times when he holds affection at arms length, but just as you are wondering
why he commences the central Andante so loudly he at once withdraws into a wholly apposite remoteness or reticence. Earlier, his pedalling at l'33" (one of several striking instances) is deeply imaginative. Predictably, the fugue is razor-sharp and in the storming pages just before the retrospective coda the sense of concentration becomes almost palpable. The final climax, too, is snapped off not only with a stunning sense of Lisztian drama but with an even truer sense of Liszt's score and instructions.
Demidenko's couplings are no less autocratic and refined, with a capacity to make seemingly arbitrary ideas sound unarguable. His Legendes are far less benign or, indeed, Franciscan than Pizarro's, Brendel's (Philips) or Kempff's (DG, 11/75—nla), yet his tautness and graphic sense of their poetic power carry their own authority. Finally, Demidenko is in his element in the Scherzo and March's diablerie, music which, coming after the two Legendes, affects one like an upside-down crucifix, or some dark necromancy. No less sacriligiously, this performance is even more electrically charged than the account on Horowitz's famous CBS disc, and it has the inestimable advantage of completeness, of being unarranged. The recording is outstanding and Demidenko's intimidating dynamic range emerges without even a trace of distortion.
-- Bryce Morrison, Gramophone [2/1993]
reviewing the original release of this title, Hyperion 66616
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