“I was five years old when my mother brought me to the music school in Kiev,” Vadym Kholodenko, 26, recalls. “The ‘90s in Ukraine and Russia were so marvelous. I still remember it fondly.”
Born in Kiev, Kholodenko was only 14 when he took second prize right at home—at Kiev’s biennial International Competition for Young Pianists in Memory of Vladimir Horowitz. In 2004, still a teenager, he was awarded the “Grand Prix” at the Maria Canals International Music Competition in Barcelona. Most recently, he won first prize at the International Schubert Competition in Germany. He has played concerts in Russia, China, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Israel and the United States.
Since 2004, he has studied at the Moscow Conservatory, which remains home base for Kholodenko and family, including little daughter Nika, age two and a half, who is much missed when he’s on the road. He doesn’t know exactly who will be tuning in to his performances, which the Cliburn will be streaming live around the world—but “my family for sure” will be listening, he says.
For such a young performer, Kholodenko has been impressively busy as a recording artist, with CDs of music by Liszt, Schubert, Rachmaninov, Chopin, Debussy, Medtner and others. He lists Rachmaninov as his “No. 1” favorite composer for the piano—and also one of his favorite pianists. The Rachmaninov connection, he adds, is a matter of “roots”—both cultural and artistic.
“Plays well with others” might be a motto for Kholodenko, who jumps at the chance to perform with fellow artists. “Chamber music is a very big interest of mine,” Kholodenko says. “It’s incomparable when you are playing with another musician and become a unity.” In Japan, he recorded a CD with violinist Alena Baeva. And he’s had a long, successful partnership with friend and pianist Andrey Gugnin. As iDuo, they took second prize at 2008’s premiere event for piano duos at Italy’s San Marino, and then played together in a concert tour across Russia.
When he isn’t immersed in the classical world, what else does Kholodenko enjoy? His favorite TV show is Robot Chicken, he likes computer games and movies—and you’re likely to find him listening to almost any kind of music (pop, rock, jazz) except anything “too heavy metal,” he says.
◊ Here is a video of Vadym Kholodenko playing Shubert:
◊ Plus, an audio of Kholodenko and iDuo partner Gugnin playing Ravel:
Vadym Kholodenko's Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Repertoire:
Preliminary Recital, Phase I
ADAMS China Gates
RACHMANINOV Sonata No. 1 in D Minor, op. 28
Preliminary Recital, Phase II
BACH-SILOTI Prelude in B Minor, BWV 855a
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 30 in E Major, op. 109
STRAVINSKY Trois mouvements de Pétrouchka
LISZT From Transcendental Etudes
No. 2 in A Minor
No. 10 in F Minor
Harmonies du soir
FRANCK Piano Quintet in F Minor
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, op. 26
◊ To see a slideshow of all of the competitors, with bios and links to our profiles of them, click here.