Nikolai Demidenko

MICHAEL DRAKE Nikolai Demidenko thrilled the audience at the John Innes Centre with a display of extraordinary colour, sensitivity and power.

MICHAEL DRAKE

Having, I thought, already heard the highlight of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, here was another one when Nikolai Demidenko thrilled the audience at the John Innes Centre with a display of extraordinary colour, sensitivity and power.

The colour was particularly prevalent in Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, ranging from delicately linking Promenades as Demidenko took us, sometimes behind the scenes, sometimes into close up. And the ultimate was the artist's vision on canvas inextricable from expressive keyboard artistry as finally the Bells of Kiev rang powerfully in acclamation of a bravura performance.

Earlier, two Prokofiev pieces showed in turn Demidenko's absolute musical integrity and rhythmic delicacy.

The chromaticism of the less angry, revised version of Sonata No 5 rippled with intense care in the opening Adagio with the following movement being part jester, part monster and the finale percussively driven with an extraordinary amount of expressiveness – would that the pianist himself had shown just a little emotion.

Ten pieces from Romeo and Juliet were a study in observation by both the pianist and the composer and were presented as a colourful and absorbing story culminating in the lissom gentility of Juliet's Farewell. A quartet of short Prokofiev and Scarletti encores called for remarkable virtuosity from a remarkable musician.

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The concert, sponsored by Bayer Crop Science, was recorded for BBC Radio 3.