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Nikolaï Demidenko

Nikolai Demidenko is a celebrated piano virtuoso, considered a leading exponent of the Russian school of playing. His blend of technical brilliance and musical vision have earned him consistent raves since he first emerged on the international scene in the mid-1980s, and he has become a musical fixture in his adopted home of Great Britain, where he gained citizenship in 1995. Demidenko began playing before the age of five, learning on his grandfather's old, beaten-up piano. By the age of six, he was a student of Anna Kantor (Evgeny Kissin's teacher) at the Gnessin School of Music. An obstinate student who disliked scales and technique, Demidenko still made swift progress, and he eventually entered the Moscow Conservatory. There, he studied with Dmitri Bashkirov, whom Demidenko credits with fostering his more individual qualities as a player, as well as ironing out the remaining wrinkles in his technique. Reaching the finals of both the 1976 Montreal competition and the 1978 Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow (where he played through an acute case of the flu) served as a final springboard to professional recognition. A 1985 tour with the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra introduced Demidenko to the West, and in particular Great Britain, where he would become a resident in 1990. While teaching piano at the University of Surrey, Demidenko has steadily built an international career of the highest caliber, playing concertos with many of Europe's greatest orchestras and conductors, and playing a landmark series of recitals in London's Wigmore Hall. His recordings of Medtner, Mussorgsky, and Busoni have been particularly well-received, and he has established himself as a leading interpreter of Liszt and Chopin. Demidenko has also ventured into earlier composers, such as Bach, Mozart, and Scarlatti, playing with a degree of rhythmic freedom (rubato) that cuts against the grain of studied performance practice; Demidenko feels that it is an essential ingredient of their music.
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