Nikolai Demidenko

Soloist-in-Residence, Queensland Symphony Orchestra

Nikolai Demidenko’s passionate virtuosity and musicianship have brought him worldwide recognition. His repertoire is wide-ranging including  Bach, Clementi, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Mussorgsky, Rachmaninov,  Scarlatti and Shostakovich. Demidenko performs at the highest level with orchestras and conductors including St Petersburg Philharmonic and Yuri Temirkanov, Accademia Nazionale de Santa Cecilia and Charles Dutoit, Philharmonia Orchestra with Tughan Sokhiev, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony and Sylvain Cambreling and Orchestre National de France with Eivind Gullberg-Jensen. Nikolai Demidenko has recorded extensively, including award-winning CDs of Chopin, Medtner and Scarlatti. In 2014, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Surrey in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the field of Music and the University.

Nikolai Demidenko continues his residency with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra

01 Oct 2016

On 9 October, Nikolai Demidenko starts his second set of performances as ‘Artist-in-Residence’ with the QSO. Nikolai will join the orchestra for two different programmes. Firstly a chamber music...

Nikolai Demidenko returns to the Singapore Symphony Orchestra

13 Aug 2016

On 19 August, Nikolai Demidenko joins the Singapore Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Darrell Ang to perform Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3. The programme also features works by...

Nikolai Demidenko opens the first ever Tippet Rise Festival in Montana

15 Jun 2016

On 17 June, Nikolai Demidenko will give the opening performance of the inaugural Tippet Rise Festival in Montana. Nikolai’s recital will feature a selection of Chopin Waltzes and Mazurkas, Liszt’s...

Nikolai Demidenko tours Australia with QSO

10 May 2016

Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s Soloist-in-Residence, Nikolai Demidenko, performs three Beethoven Piano Concertos No. 1, 3 and 4, as a part of QSO’s Beethoven Cycle. Nikolai joins the orchestra...

Nikolai Demidenko performs with Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia

29 Mar 2016

In April, Nikolai Demidenko returns to perform with Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia under Otto Tusk, playing Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 2. The first performance takes place on 14 April at Auditorio...

Nikolai Demidenko performs Beethoven Piano Concertos

24 Feb 2016

Fresh from an extensive UK tour with Flanders Symphony Orchestra, which led to an immediate re-invitation for a further five dates across Belgium in January 2017, Nikolai returns to Torino for...

Nikolai Demidenko tours the UK with Flanders Symphony Orchestra

06 Feb 2016

Nikolai Demidenko embarks on a UK tour with the Flanders Symphony Orchestra. The tour features two different programmes, led by chief-conductor Jan Latham-Koenig. Nikolai will play Chopin’s Piano...

Nikolai Demidenko with Belgrade Philharmonic

21 Jan 2016

Following a very successful recital debut appearance at Kolarac Hall at the end of last year, Nikolai will appear in front of Belgrade audiences once again interpreting Rachmaninov’s Piano...

Nikolai Demidenko performs at the International Piano Series and makes his Belgrade recital debut

27 Oct 2015

The 2015/16 Southbank Centre International Piano Series will see Nikolai Demidenko make a welcome return on 3 November at St John’s Smith Square, London.  He devotes this recital to the works...

Nikolai Demidenko - Soloist-in-Residence at Queensland Symphony

08 Sep 2015

Building on a longstanding fruitful collaboration, Queensland Symphony Orchestra have announced Nikolai Demidenko as their ‘Soloist-in-Residence’ for the 2016 season.  As part of his...

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“Demidenko gave a truly formidable performance, creating an almost hypnotic feeling of relentless motion. At times, his fingers leapt across the keyboard with the mischievous sprightliness of Puck and at others, he stabbed at the piano like a scene from Macbeth. In other moments, he evoked the ingratiating malevolence of Iago or a sense of seething bitterness straight from Hamlet.”

The Straits Times - Aug 2016

“[...] his performance [Chopin Piano Concerto No 1] was robust and expansive, rich in wit, musical understanding and clarity, particularly in the perilous final section of the first movement. His treatment of the cadenzas was spontaneous and colourful, bright yet warm-toned.”

Bachtrack (Cadogan Hall) - Feb 2016

“Demidenko’s playing was always precise, profound, and well-articulated. In the last cadenza, shortly before the end, his rendition of Rachmaninov [Piano Concerto No 1] reached its utmost intensity, and it was a great joy to hear him resume the first theme with fervour and full-handed chords.”

Bachtrack (Leeds Town Hall) - Feb 2016

“Nikolai Demidenko is an extrordinary pianist.  His Belgrade recital debut was marked by an original and explosive interpretation which exceeded any predetermined expectations, leaving the audience highly rewarded.  Nikolai’s interpretations of Brahms and particularly Prokofiev were defined by a high degree of musical individuality. He is clearly a very sensitive performer.  He does not give in to empty virtuosity, rather he analises the structure and pays attention to the smallest of detail.  The real Nikolai Demidenko and his cosmic virtuosity appear with Prokofiev’s Visions Fugitives - he is brilliantly focussed and exceeds at capturing the true essence of each of the changing moods.”

Danas (Kolarac Hall, Belgrade) - Nov 2015

“In a programme of Brahms and Prokofiev, the Russian Nikolai Demidenko’s pianism was heard there to its greatest advantage. Unlike some of his compatriots he’s no banger and even in the most muscular items his tone was always ingratiating — an impression enhanced by the pure-toned Fazioli he played.  Brahms’s Variations on a Theme by Schumann allowed him to display his lyrical, tender qualities, with immaculately weighted chording on the expressive dissonances and their resolutions. The same composer’s Sonata No. 2 in F sharp minor is a more youthful, demonstrative affair, but even while he bestrode the keyboard’s octaves with fiery brilliance, the playing was exhilarating, never oppressive.    In Prokofiev’s Visions Fugitives, a set of miniatures offering a kaleidoscope of “fleeting visions”, Demidenko found the perfect register for each: jaunty, wistful, satirical by turns. Ending with Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 2 in D minor, he once again covered the whole emotional range without any ugliness of tone. It’s quite an achievement to suggest the defiance and savagery of Prokofiev without making the listener want to run for cover, but Demidenko managed it and had us wanting more. ”

Evening Standard (International Piano Series, St John's Smith Square, London) - Nov 2015

“Demidenko laid out the soulful Theme [Brahms: The Variations on a Theme by Schumann] with restraint and nobility. The agitated climax of Variation VI was powerful and VIII had a simple, touching beauty. Throughout, Demidenko maintained direction and a sense of pulse.  Demidenko followed this with barely a break with Piano Sonata No.2, of youthful energy and teeming with ideas. In the richly textured first movement, Demidenko generated tremendous power. The following Andante showed Demidenko’s sensitivity and in the Scherzo he brought out its ingenuity. The masterful Finale began with an almost improvisatory-sounding opening, Demidenko maintaining contrast in the clashing harmonies and gleeful humour through to the seemingly quiet conclusion until two surprisefortissimo chords. Overall, this was a reading that matched poetry and brilliance.  After the interval, Demidenko offered Prokofiev, beginning with Visions Fugitives. As a custodian of the Russian pianistic tradition he was totally inside the music and able to capture its evanescent nature perfectly. Demidenko went straight into Sonata No.2, written when Prokofiev was nineteen. Demidenko gave the slightly too long first movement a sense of momentum and the short second playfulness as well as terrific punch. The Andante expressed elegiac lyricism and the Finale, with its rather bizarre tarantella, was filled with vitality.    ”

Classical Source (International Piano Series, St John's Smith Square, London) - Nov 2015

“In much of Beethoven's 5th Piano Concerto, his right hand would gently touch the keys for delicate melodies, while his left hand pressed down for heavier Beethoven harmonies.  Demidenko's even chordal articulation for the second theme of the first movement produced a particulatly charming effect.”

San Francisco Classical Voice (California Theater, San Jose) - Oct 2015

“Demidenko revealed the intricate beauties and structures of the score, and the senses responded accordingly to his musical integrity. His articulation and knifelike rhythm are remarkably fine, his textures clear and free of neuroticism, as displayed in the cascade of cadences that open the powerful Allegro. His phrasing and meticulous inner-ear produce the prettier, brighter sounds of his generation, as found in the Adagio un poco mosso. He revelled in the beautiful life within the music with shades of tone in the Allegro ma non troppo that blossomed like a flower.”

Daily Democrat (California Theater, San Jose) - Oct 2015

“Russian pianist Nikolai Demidenko was superb in a much anticipated recital that gave a contemporary account of Chopin interpretation filled with spontaneity, personality and moments of rare brilliance… Demidenko's eloquent opening bracket interspersed the waltz and mazurka with clear exposition of the essential wit and charm of these beguiling dance forms. He breathes life into Chopin's degrees of freedom, unexpected little tricks and mercurial changes of mood.”

Sydney Morning Herald (Melbourne Recital Centre) - Jun 2015

“[...] Nikolai Demidenko performed a version of Prokofiev's Concerto Nr.2 that should be considered as reference, from the beginning the sound of the notes from the piano came out like bright pearls on top of the bright velvet ropes of the strings of the orchestra. Then came all the high difficulty and powerful sound full of control, in the peculiar development that Prokofiev wrote for the first movement. It is a huge cadenza not only for its duration: the brilliant arpeggios, the crossing of hands and other elements of brilliance that Prokofiev wrote on his own honor and glory were resolved with impeccable technique and profound musicality by Demidenko. Then, the playful irony of the Scherzo, the mock solemnity of the intermezzo and its virtuosic elements - those electrifying glissandi of the right hand with his left hand arpeggios- and the dense and growing intensity of the final Allegro tempestuoso, rounded a version of reference that will remain in the memory of the audience of A Coruña for a long time. [...]”

EL PAÍS (Palacio de la Opera, Coruna) - Mar 2015

“As with a number of top Russian pianists, he somehow gives the impression that his fingers are not so much hitting the keys as working them sculpturally, patiently easing the music from its hiding places. Chopin’s great C minor Nocturne, op. 48 no. 1, came across with all its granite bleakness, and Demidenko was fully alert to the individual characters of the others, especially Op. 55 no.2 with its Bach-like inner dialogues.”

Seen and Heard International (Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff) - Feb 2015

“A recent review from the George Enescu Festival in Bucharest said of his Chopin Piano Concerto No1 :     Well, I can affirm the same things regarding Demidenko after I saw him on the stage. His presence is calm, serene... Once he sat at the piano, he was transposing himself in to another world, succeeding to transmit all those sensations that only Chopin’s music can do. Thinking of the guiding performance that I have in mind,  the version with Marta Argerich, which already was a role model for me, well, I discovered that my “ideal” was just being replaced that evening by Demidenko’s performance.  Why? Simple: Chopin is not heroic, Chopin is sensible! What else I could discover, by analogy with the heroic Martha Argerich or the virtuous Lang Lang: Demidenko “operates” with more moderate tempos, and this fits very well in Chopin’s music. Also, comparing to the style of the 2 pianists early mentioned, Demidenko is much more involved in what he performs, but, in the same time, he proves calm, serenity, refinement, and a delicate touch. In one word: Chopin.”

Actualitatea muzicala - Nov 2013

“Indeed, so inward and intimate was his playing at times that it felt as if we were eavesdropping on some private communion between performer and composer; yet the result never felt in any way short-changed. Often regarded as charming but small, the works in the first half seemed far more substantial than usual, Demidenko revealing their essential character in playing that was focused in execution and subtly gradated in colouring...The big C minor Sonata was on a much grander scale. Here Demidenko's playing took on a symphonic aspect that matched the almost orchestral richness of Schubert's textures in this ambitious and emotionally complex piece...The result had a dramatic breadth that never lost sight of voicing or colouring, maintaining a fine balance between a sustained overview and attention to smaller features in the landscape.”

The Guardian (Schubert, Wigmore Hall) - Jan 2012

“Demidenko’s showed in the first bars of the first Impromptu of the D899 group how big a canvas he proposed to work on: the bare opening chord was like a melancholy call to attention, with the answering phrase like a faint cry in the distance. His tone had a singing warmth, and his pace was gentle: the long sustained lines and the shifts between minor and major were brought out with ballade-like grace. The runs and scales of the second piece were so pearlised and swift that they went like the wind; the third – the rippling one everybody knows, even if they don’t know it’s by Schubert – and the arpeggiated fourth came and went in an exquisite blur. These are not virtuoso pieces, but they benefited enormously from Demidenko’s discreet virtuosity.”

The Independent (Schubert, Wigmore Hall) - Jan 2012

“Nikolai Demidenko’s account of the Concerto in E minor is searching and expansive, livening up with dancing lightness in the krakowiak-infused finale.”

BBC Music Magazine - Mar 2011

“There was more to this performance than barnstorming bravura. He made this vast, hour-long piece a study in musical contrasts, and revealed the astonishing fecundity of Beethoven's imagination... Ever alert to the volatile surface of the music, Demidenko also created a mysterious structural momentum that traversed the whole piece, and his performance illuminated the infinite possibilities contained within a single, simple tune.”

The Guardian (Beethoven's Diabelli Variations, The Barbican) - Oct 2004

“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 Guardian (Chopin Preludes; Sonata No 3 (Onyx)) - Nov 2008

“Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto demands high-voltage virtuosity, which it got from the Russian-born Nikolai Demidenko. From the haunting opening bars – darkly poised and pulsating – Demidenko put the Concerto's range of tone ahead of any superficial pianistic fireworks. Yet, though he was elusive and elegiac in the slow movement, he hurtled into the finale with bravura and a fearless pace as the Hallé flaunted its own fire and fury. It was electrifying but also poetic.”

The Independent (The Halle Orchestra, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester ) - Apr 2009

“...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.”

Belfast Telegraphn (Chopin recital at the Ulster Hall) - Feb 2010

“If this was a different Chopin from the one we are used to, the way it was delivered took the breath away. Demidenko's virtuosity has nothing to do with Liszt-style playing-to-the-gallery. Supreme technical control and high-speed accuracy are its foundations. More to the point is the clarity with which he invests the most dense and complex structures and the expressive poetry he finds. The two Chopin Nocturnes he gave as encores at the end of this unforgettable recital were flawlessly beautiful. Why aren't the big labels competing to sign him?”

The Independent (International Piano Series Chopin and Schumann recital at the Queen Elizabeth Hall) - Apr 2010

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Authoritative interpretations of over fifty concerti specifically those of Beethoven, Brahms, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky have brought Nikolai worldwide recognition and critical acclaim. His passionate, virtuosic performances and musical individuality marked him as one of the most extraordinary pianists of this century.

Nikolai has worked with many renowned conductors such as Yuri Temirkanov, Sir Roger Norrington, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Charles Dutoit, Evgeny Svetlanov and Sir Andrew Davis. Orchestras with whom he collaborated include the St Petersburg Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Ulster Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, KBS Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Symphony, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, Orquestra Simfónica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya, Orquesta Nacional de Espana, Orchestre National de France, Gavle Symfoniorkester and Danish National Symphony Orchestra.

In 2016, Demidenko is ‘Soloist-in-Residence’ with Queensland Symphony Orchestra.  As a part of his residency, he performs the complete Beethoven Piano Concerti, a chamber music recital and conducts a masterclass.

Concerto highlights of his current and upcoming seasons include appearances with the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra and Orquesta Sinfónica de Navarra; a tour across Belgium with Flanders Symphony, Szczecin Philharmonic, Lahti Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic, Göttinger Symphonie Orchester; Queensland Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Silicon Valley.

Devoted recitalist and chamber musician, Nikolai possesses a unique ability to take a homogenous view of a recital and to pair different contents without ignoring their style (CultureNorthernIreland). Throughout his longstanding career, Nikolai gave recitals at some of the worlds’ most important venues including Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory, Konzerthaus Berlin, NCPA in Beijing, Hong Kong City Hall, Melbourne Recital Center and Sydney City Recital Hall. Nikolai is also a frequent guest of major London based venues including the Barbican, Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall and St. John’s Smith Square. Current season sees Demidenko giving recitals across the world including the Fribourg Piano Series, Wigmore Hall in London, Kumho Art Hall in Seoul and in Ulsan (South Korea).  

Nikolai’s extensive discography consists of nearly 40 CDs. For Hyperion Records he recorded over 20 albums including his latest Prokofiev Piano Concertos Nos 2 & 3 with London Philharmonic Orchestra released in March 2015, Gramophone Editor’s Choice award-winning album of Medtner and Music for two Pianos (with Dmitri Alexeev), Rachmaninov CD awarded BBC Music Magazine Best of The Year and Diapason D’Or, and Scriabin & Tchaikovsky Piano Concertos which won BBC Music Magazine Best of The Year and Best Concerto Recording of The Year by Classis CD. Nikolai’s Chopin CD released in 2008 for Onyx Classics won the MIDEM 2010 Special Chopin Award for a new recording.

Russian-born pianist Nikolai Demidenko studied at the Gnessins Music School with Anna Kantor before joining the Moscow Conservatory with Dmitri Bashkirov. He was one of the winners of the Montreal International Music Competition and the International Tchaikovsky Competition. In 2014, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Surrey in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the field of Music and the University. 


October 2016