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Dave Saemann
Fanfare, November 2011

Evgeny Kissin wows the audience with a brilliant version of the Second Concerto, but I am taken even more by Nikolai Demidenko in the First—a many-layered performance of great depth.



Dave Saemann
Fanfare, July 2011

I would hate to have been a music critic for a newspaper sitting in the audience at this concert. Newspaper reviewers are allowed only one chance to hear the music and then get their story straight. I’ve watched this video four times, and just am beginning to appreciate what went on at the concert. In sum, it is a tale of two pianists, Nikolai Demidenko and Evgeny Kissin. The former receives a notable reception from the audience, while the latter elicits a roaring standing ovation and rhythmic applause. The two even are a contrast in their appearance: Demidenko with his grey beard and bald spot, the leonine Kissin every inch the romantic idol. Yet, on repeated listening, I find myself drawn at least as much to Demidenko’s performance as to Kissin’s. This video is a superb example of how completely differently one can approach Chopin, with equally satisfying results.

The First Concerto opens with refined playing in the orchestral tutti. Antoni Wit and his Warsaw forces only recently recorded both concertos with Eldar Nebolsin. Demidenko begins introspectively, with a lovely sonority. His romantic hero, as portrayed in the music, is a poet rather than an adventurer. The third subject is full of yearning and pathos. Elegance and passion characterize the subsequent filigree work. The return of the first theme sounds ruminative. When the second subject comes back, it is wistful and tentative. Throughout this movement, the Warsaw first chairs play beautifully, particularly the flute, bassoon, and horn.

Demidenko opens the second movement with a gorgeous, singing bel canto line. It is a love song with plenty of heart. Unlike in the first movement, the piano part now has a slightly naive quality. The solo bassoon plays wonderfully. Here and in the finale, Demidenko handles transitions magically. He performs the last movement very much in the style galant. His playing now is rhythmically subtle; he doesn’t attempt to be a powerhouse. The B section sounds like a mazurka. Demidenko’s left hand produces deftly judged harmonies. His soft playing is superbly virtuosic. As an encore, Demidenko plays a mazurka raptly and ravishingly, almost as a commentary on all that has gone before it.

Kissin first came to prominence in a concert of both Chopin concertos at age 12, conducted by Dmitri Kitaenko. At present, he plays the Second Concerto in the grand manner. His fingers are fascinating to watch, reminding me of tentacles. Kissin treats the first movement rhapsodically, rather freely in tempo. His soft passages are especially luminous. The program annotator for the DVD suggests that Kissin’s tactile connection to the keyboard is almost erotic. I prefer to say that Kissin’s performance possesses an animal quality. In the second movement, Kissin produces lush sonorities with almost heartbreaking phrasing. His playing in the string tremolo section seems tragic, evoking the pain of the lover. Following this outburst, the return of the initial theme sounds subdued. Kissin’s finale is a romp, with plenty of fire. Differences in dynamics are finely judged. The audience erupts on the orchestra’s final chord. For his first encore, Kissin gives us a stunning version of the last of the op. 10 etudes, with an almost supernatural left hand. It perhaps exemplifies the two pianists here that this encore is so virtuosic, while Demidenko’s is reflective. Kissin’s next encore is a somewhat Mendelssohnian treatment of a waltz, like fairy music. Kissin shows an endearingly light touch here.

The sound engineering on the DVD is very good, clear and full if a little monochromatic. Surround sound was unavailable to me. Occasionally the picture is out of sync with the music for a second or two. The director of the video does a satisfying job; nothing essential is overlooked in the camerawork. For an opportunity to experience two marvelous players in concert, this DVD probably will have great staying power. It is a true privilege to witness Demidenko and Kissin’s artistry up close.



Hank Zauderer
My Classical Notes, June 2011

The year 2010 was the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth. And yes…there were a lot of recording available to celebrate this date. Earlier today I heard Evgeny Kissin perform the second movement from the Chopin concerto #2, and it was really moving. Performed with the Warsaw National Philharmonic, this is really a performance to treasure. Actually, I found that it was the space between the notes that was so special. And with Mr. Kissin, there is no doubt that the notes and the dynamics are always there. This time, somehow I became more aware of the silences.

The 2010 concert in memory of Chopin was recorded in Warsaw’s National Philharmonic Hall, surpassed my highest expectations. Evgeny Kissin, as usual very emotional in this performance, performs the Second Concerto with incredible bravura. Antoni Wit conducting the Warsaw Philharmonic treats Chopin’s scores with care, finesse and sensitivity. Theirs is about the most inspired performance of the orchestral parts I have recently heard. There are brilliant encores from the pianists and endless, well-deserved ovations. This is a really fine DVD.

Nicolai Demidenko performs the first Chopin concerto. He is poetic, introspective, and produces a lot of beauty in this lovely piece.

The camera work is excellent, and the sound is likewise about perfect.



Robert Benson
ClassicalCDReview.com, December 2010

What a pleasure it is to view two of the finest pianists of our time in a special concert commemorating Chopin’s 200th birthday recorded in Warsaw February 27, 2010. Both of Chopin’s concertos have figured prominently in the careers of Nikolai Demidenko and Yevgeny Kissin. Demidenko recorded both, a disk currently available on the Helios label, and Evgeny Kissin astounded the musical world in 1984 when he was only 12 when he performed both concertos in a Moscow concert, the official beginning of an astounding career. Both pianists here give exquisite performances at this commemorative concert and the Polish orchestra under Antoni Wit offers perfect accompaniments. Demidenko plays one encore, a delicate mazurka, while Kissin lets the sparks fly with the Revolutionary Etude and E-minor waltz. Those who love the piano must have this DVD. Audio and video are superb with unobtrusive camera work. This is an outstanding release.



BBC Music Magazine, November 2010

Paul Smaczny, the acclaimed director of classical music documentaries, has launched a new DVD label, Accentus. Its first releases include the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela conducted by Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim playing Chopin in Warsaw on the eve of the composer’s birthday, and Chopin’s piano concertos performed by Evgeny Kissin and Nikolai Demidenko. Plus, there’s the Mainz Bach Choir performing an off-beat programme of music by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, the eldest son of the great JS.






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