Nikolai Demidenko

Nikolai Demidenko Photo by: Mercedes Segovia


Nikolai Demidenko
Robert Schuman Recital
Record Label: Behemoth & Murr
Catalogue Number: B&M 16 001

Recording Producer: Richard Wenn

Executive Producer: Paul Carasco

Sound Engineer: Pasquale Simonetti

Piano technician: Glenn Easley - Global Piano services

Classical Film and Sound wishes to congratulate Richard Wenn for the launch of his new record label, Behemoth & Murr. His first album release is an all Schumann recording featuring Nikolai Demidenko.

Of this recording, Nikolai Demidenko stated:


“I have wanted to record the Carnaval Op.9 for nearly 30 years; it was brewing and crystallising in my mind, and as time went on I found more and more fascinating details within the music that I had previously not noticed. Then naturally the ‘Faschingsschwank aus Wien’ Op.26 was added, as it is also a carnival, but from Vienna and it extends Schumann ideas further. I added ‘Papillons’ Op.2, not because of the obvious quotations in Op.9, but because they are essentially the same idea as the other two carnivals, just from a different perspective. And then I felt that the insanity at the end of  ‘Faschingsschwank aus Wien’ needed some counterbalance, almost as if Schumann needed to ask the question - why? The obvious choice was "Warum?


Working with Behemoth & Murr was a pure delight. On top of the total support, I had been given the opportunity to influence all aspects of this recording, including placement of the microphones, positioning of the piano, editing and mastering. I have known Richard Wenn since my very first CD, recorded for the British label Conifer Classics back in 1989; we have been good friends ever since, so it was a very friendly atmosphere at the recording sessions - despite being juxtaposed around the busy schedule of rehearsals and performances of Medtner’s Second Piano Concerto.


The piano we chose was a vintage Hamburg Steinway, freshly rebuilt by Peter Salisbury after flood damage. It had some qualities not often present in more recent Steinways, and its voice was inspiring and seemed close to what I had in mind. I immediately felt it would be a good idea to create the recording within the nostalgic spirit of recordings from the 1950s -1960s and think it worked rather well. As the whole project was rather an impromptu decision, we could not anticipate everything, including the unexpected departure of our Auckland based piano technician Glenn Easley on the 2nd day of the recording; as a result of which there is an ‘A flat’ that sounds slightly out of tune in Op.9, an attractive quirk in the tuning to me as it felt completely in style with the 1960’s sound idea. 


“I am very familiar the period pianos used by Chopin and Schumann and I tried to find echoes of the spirit of their voices in this recording as well. Unfortunately, we cannot reproduce that sound bit-by-bit, but at least I tried. Searching for new things to say in the music for ‘Chiarina’ and ‘Chopin’ was interesting - how passionate could a VERY young teenage girl be in Schumann’s creation? And how could one phrase the melody in ‘Chopin’ so that it fits both Schumann’s vision and Chopin's nature simultaneously?”

“Now this recording is being released, I must say that I am proud of it and expressed everything I wanted as best I could. Now it is up to the listeners to like or dislike it - I am passing it to the world.”

The recording was made in Brisbane, Australia on a vintage 1970s Steinway ‘D’ from Hamburg. The instrument was water damaged during the 2011 floods and required total rebuilding by the renowned London-based technician Peter Salisbury. This piano has since become a favourite instrument and the piano of choice for many noted pianists because of its rich tonal qualities and clear projection.


Behemoth & Murr was founded in 2018. The names Behemoth and Murr are references to famous cats with opposite temperaments. The gentler of the pair was created by E.T.A. Hoffmann in his Kreisleriana, whose hero Kater Murr is refined and intellectual, a feline treasure from Hoffmann’s fantasy realm and an inspiration for creative minds and palimpsest enthusiasts.


By contrast Mikhail Bulgakov’s fantastical feline creation comes from the sinister and mysterious world in his masterpiece The Master and Margarita. As the companion of the Mephistophelean Woland. Behemoth is like an ordinary cat following his natural instincts but in a larger than life existence. His talent to wreak havoc and cause mayhem, (though not with mice or birds), is unleashed instead on unfortunate citizens of Soviet Russia. The cats reflect a wide range and contrasts in music, an homage to Eusebius and Florestan and mascots to encourage future diverse and interesting recording projects for the Behemoth & Murr label.