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Nikolai Demidenko - Chopin Preludes/Sonata 3

The Sunday Times - 1.2.08 David Cairns
 
Chopin the poet of brief, highly charged statements and Chopin the master of heterodox large-scale composition are equally well served by this splendid disc. Some of Demidenko’s tempos are unusually slow. In other hands, they might lose momentum, but such is his muscular rhythmic strength and his sense of the singing line in both right and left hand that, with him, they never do. Demidenko’s command of touch, colour, texture, dynamics (tender as well as forceful) realise admirably the astonishing variety of the Préludes: the strange, groping darkness of the A minor, the E minor’s bell-like tolling, the relentless rhythm beneath the B flat minor’s cascade of notes, the F major’s crystalline brilliance, the hammer-blow Ds that bring the work to its implacable conclusion.

The Guardian - 14.11.08 - Tim Ashley ****
 
Nikolai Demidenko has always been something of a radical, and his recording of the Chopin Preludes is likely to polarise opinion. He's by no means the first pianist to pull away from the well-worn idea of Chopin as the archetypal Romantic dreamer. But there's austerity here, an emotional directness and a willingness to explore the music's percussive, rhythmic potential rather than its lyricism, all of which make Chopin sound startlingly new. We're persistently reminded that his model for the Preludes was Bach, rather than any of his contemporaries, and that, heard in its entirety, the sequence owes its impact as much to its structural logic as as to its expressive power. Demidenko's performance of the Third Sonata, however, is fractionally less successful. The Largo is comparably severe and uncompromising. The rest of it, if anything, is marginally too relaxed. Placed second, it also feels anticlimactic: it works better if you reprogramme it so that the Preludes come last.