Nikolai Demidenko

Liszt: Sonata; Two Legends; Scherzo and March

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

On the strengths of his powerful presence, extraordinary technique, and spellbinding flamboyance, Nikolai Demidenko might seem an ideal performer of Franz Liszt's virtuosic piano works, without need of any more accolades to secure his reputation. Yet this disc reveals Demidenko's intense concentration and, happily, his consistent logic, which make Liszt's showy music much more coherent and palatable. How well one shapes the Piano Sonata in B minor determines whether the piece is an innovative, developmental sonata of real significance, in the spirit of Schubert's "Wanderer" Fantasy, or merely an excuse for pianistic claptrap. Demidenko is convinced that the sonata is the former, and his rigorous interpretation pulls together the thematic transformations into a clear scheme of four movements within one, rather than the loose string of 16 rambling sections played by the less formally astute. The microphone placement makes the performance feel quite close, and Demidenko's playing takes on the instructive intimacy of a master class, rather than the ostentatious thundering of a concert performance. The two Légendes and the Scherzo and March are interesting but innocuous filler and seem of secondary importance after the compelling insights of the sonata. Recorded in 1992, this Hyperion release offers exceptional sound.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Piano Sonata in B minor, S. 178 (LW A179)
1
0:56
2
2:39
3
2:35
4
4:27
5
2:42
6
1:05
7
6:52
8
1:20
9
0:51
10
2:14
11
1:53
12
0:40
13
0:55
14
1:18
15
1:16
16
1:10
Légendes (2), for piano, S.175 (LW A219)
17
2:51
18
1:46
19
0:55
20
2:26
21
2:44
22
4:42
23
1:43
24
2:49
Scherzo und Marsch, for piano, S. 177 (LW A174)
25
6:49
26
4:01
27
1:23
28
0:16
29
1:35
blue highlight denotes track pick