The Russian-born British pianist, Nikolai 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 Nikolai Demidenko to the West, and in particular the UK, where he would become a resident in 1990. He has become a musical fixture in his adopted home of the UK, and in 1995 was proud to be granted British citizenship. 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. He has established himself as 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.
Frequent Wigmore Hall recitals have included Piano Masterworks; the essence of this six concert series - which won a Royal Philharmonic Society award - was captured in Hyperion's double album Live at Wigmore. Nikolai Demidenko also plays regularly in the Great Performers series at the Barbican Concert Hall and in Autumn 2006 he returns to the International Piano Series at London's South Bank Centre.
Current and forthcoming concerto engagements include performances with the Adelaide, Bern, Castilla e Léon, Christchurch, Granada, Kristiansand, Lahti, Macao, Melbourne, RTE & Singapore symphony orchestras; the Belgrade Philharmonic, Bremen Philharmonic & Bucharest Philharmonic Orchestra; Hallé Orchestra; Madrid Community Orchestra, Queensland Orchestra and Ulster Orchestra. Nikolai Demidenko gives recitals in Adelaide, Brisbane, San Francisco, San José, St. Petersburg, Vancouver and Zagreb as well as his 11th annual recital in the Herkules-Saal Munich. Festival invitations include Cambridge Music, Hanty Mansijsk, the IKIF at Mannes College New York, Oslo Chamber Music, Paris Chopin, Petworth, Plymouth & Snape Proms.
Nikolai Demidenko has a flourishing relationship with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and Yuri Temirkanov, with whom he has performed in Berlin, Budapest, Buenos Aires, Geneva, Glasgow, London, Lugano, Manchester and St. Petersburg. He also enjoys a fruitful collaboration with several Russian artists who have made their homes in London, notably a two piano partnership with Dmitri Alexeev; a cello and piano duo with Leonid Gorokhov and piano quartets with the exciting new Hermitage String Trio.
For Hyperion Records Nikolai Demidenko has recorded albums of Bach–Busoni, Chopin, Clementi, F. Liszt, Medtner, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, Sergei Rachmaninov, Schubert & Robert Schumann and concertos by Chopin, Medtner, Scriabin, Tchaikovsky & Weber as well as the complete Prokofiev Concertos with the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Alexander Lazarev. For the Munich-based AGPL label he has recorded L.v. Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata and a collection of Scarlatti sonatas. The most recent addition to this extensive discography is a recording of L.v. Beethoven's Diabelli Variations for ASV Gold. 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. Nikolai Demidenko has also ventured into earlier composers, such as J.S. Bach, W.A. Mozart, and Scarlatti, playing with a degree of rhythmic freedom (rubato) that cuts against the grain of studied performance practice. He feels that it is an essential ingredient of their music.
Recent concerto engagements have included performances with orchestras as the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Radio Symphony, Prague Symphony, Odense Symphony, São Paulo Symphony, West Australian Symphony, Camerata Salzburg, BBC National Orchestra of Wales; Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen; Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment; Auckland Philharmonic, Helsinki Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Warsaw Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Rome, Spanish National Orchestra and Sinfonia Varsovia. Conductors with whom Nikolai Demidenko has worked include Andrey Boreyko, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Thierry Fischer, Daniel Harding, Manfred Honeck, Mariss Jansons, Okko Kamu, Yakov Kreizberg, Alexander Lazarev, Susanna Mälkki, Tania Miller, Sir Roger Norrington, Gianandrea Noseda, Gerard Schwarz, Leif Segerstam, Evgeny Svetlanov, Yuri Temirkanov, Yan Pascal Tortelier & Osmo Vanska.
Nikolai Demidenko has given recitals in Amsterdam, Bilbao, Bremen, Edinburgh, Hong Kong, Madrid, Manchester, Melbourne, New York, Perth, Prague, Seville, Sydney, Toronto & Zaragoza; and at the Belfast, Citta del Castello, New Zealand, Prague Spring, Schwetzingen, Singapore International Piano, Sintra & Windsor Festivals, as well as the Chopin Festivals of Duszniki, Nohant & Valldemossa.