Demidenko plays Beethoven

International Series Two – Saturday 27 June 2015, 7:30 pm Dunedin Town Hall

Jessica Cottis, Conductor; Nikolai Demidenko, Piano

Brahms (arr. Dvorak): Hungarian Dances Nos. 17 – 21
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4
Dvorak: Symphony No. 8


Anticipation was high as a large audience gathered at Dunedin Town Hall for a mouth-watering musical treat – great works of the classical repertoire and a special soloist.

Led by energetic United Kingdom-based conductor Jessica Cottis, the Southern Sinfonia was in fine form on Saturday night as it launched into five of Brahms’ Hungarian Dances (Nos 17 to 21), as arranged by his close friend Dvorak. These light and lilting dance works were a thoroughly enjoyable palette cleanser for the epic works ahead.

Joining the orchestra on stage, Russian pianist Nikolai Demidenko had his audience spellbound from the first notes of Beethoven’s extraordinary Piano Concerto No. 4 – a giant, masterful and emotionally charged work. In his third visit to the city, audience favourite Demidenko gave another fabulous, accurate and virtuosic-yet-unshowy performance, earning thunderous applause and repeated curtain calls.

He rewarded the audience for its enthusiasm with a delightful, quicksilver encore performance of Chopin’sMinute Waltz.

Another musical treat awaited in the concert’s second half, with the Sinfonia giving an impressive performance of Dvorak’s cheerful, lyrical Symphony No. 8. The work gave each section of the orchestra ample opportunity to shine and they made the most of it, with particularly fine work coming from the Sinfonia’s excellent woodwind section.

An inspiring selection of works for Saturday’s concert was equalled by wonderful performances from the Southern Sinfonia, Cottis and Demidenko to create a fabulous evening of music.

Reviewed by Brenda Harwood for The Star, Thursday, 2 July 2015.

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