Master gives instant changes of mood

Nikolai Demidenko @ Norfolk and Norwich Music Club, John Innes Centre, Norwich

Nikolai Demidenko @ Norfolk and Norwich Music Club, John Innes Centre, Norwich

By MICHAEL DRAKE

Once again this extraordinary pianist captivated a Norwich audience with a performance on Saturday evening, demonstrating remarkable keyboard command in an all-Schumann programme.

The stage, save for the instrument, stool and the soloist, was bare but colour was all in the playing. First in the Arabesque in C major in which Demidenko showed just what could be done with a mere four bars. And while his is not a flamboyant style, he leans into the music to give instant changes of mood.

Sometimes it seemed more than one piano was being played – in the Etudes Symphoniques for example, moving from the intense to the dramatic, from a light filigree to powerful excitement and then to an exultant, martial finale.

All these attributes continued in the Sonata in F sharp minor. Yes, after an almost solemn Introduction, the adagio is long but it was full of variation and inventiveness.

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The quiet oasis of the Aria provided a period of contemplation followed by a positively skittish Scherzo and some wonderfully reflective moments before the final flourish.

Encores of course – sparkling in Liszt's transcription of Donizetti's Lucia and a not often heard Chopin impromptu. Demidenko must have been pleased with the performance; would that he would show it a little.