Nikolai Demidenko has been a welcome visitor to Northern Ireland for over two decades.
His formidable pianistic technique is grounded in the training he received at the Moscow Conservatory — it provides the vehicle for his entirely musical and individual approach to interpretation.
His masterclass on Saturday afternoon gave the relatively large audience a glimpse of his insights into the music of Chopin through his youthful participants. But it was his recital which revealed yet again his genius. Demidenko comprehends, encompasses and communicates this music with unique authority.
Chopin was not a sick-room talent. His harmonies were revolutionary, his melodies sublime, his layers of expression deftly woven into an intricate polyphony.
The power of the modern piano is something which would have been alien to Chopin’s sound world and a Steinway Model D could obscure the nuances, the aristocratic refinement of his vision. But Demidenko is totally aware of this. He does not try to reproduce per se an “authentic” performance.
Rather he is informed by Chopin’s contemporary practice and resources and he adapts the modern instrument to reveal an internal world of subtle introspection and dazzling virtuosity with captivating precision.
His careful use of the pedal is especially intriguing; with it he multiplies the vast array of tonal colours which enhance and clarify the inevitability of every line in the music.