It’s nice to arrive at a piano competition fresh from a New York debut. This time, it’s young Russian pianist Nikolay Khozyainov, 20, who benefits from some good timing.
Of his April 30 debut at Carnegie Hall, New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini wrote: “There is something awesome about Mr. Khozyainov’s skills….[His] playing could use more musical maturity….Still, he is quite a talent.”
“It was a big honor for me to play in such a prestigious venue,” Khozyainov tells us. That concert was part of the winner’s award from the Dublin International Piano Competition, which he won in 2012.
“Most of all, I remember the audience,” he adds. “It is a happiness for every artist when people come to your concert, and when you are received like that. An artist is not alive until he has listeners. And I want to thank John O’Conor and all the organizers and jury of the Dublin Competition for giving me this opportunity.”
Khozyainov (his name pronounced Koh-chee-A-nawf—as in a “long A” sound) already has a chatty Facebook fan club whose members follow his travels around the world, and he says “I am always happy to talk to them after the concert. Their support gives me new power.”
He made his debut at age seven in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, and began his studies at the Central Music School in Moscow. Since 2010, he has been a student at the Moscow P.I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory. In 2012, Khozyainov won first place in the Dublin competition, took second prize and the audience award at the Sydney International Piano Competition, and in 2010 was the youngest finalist ever in the International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw.
“Every musician playing the piano has Chopin works in his repertoire,” he says. “Many performers put an emphasis on the romantic, salon side of Chopin’s music. For me, there are no superficial emotions in Chopin’s music. His works have such an intensity, such a gigantic strength of feeling and thought. His music…deeply touches people’s hearts, but every performer [also] puts his own feelings and thoughts, and expresses his own attitude to the composer.”
Khozyainov spends his increasingly rare free time “listening to the opera and studying orchestral scores.” He likes to slip in quietly and watch rehearsals at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. “It’s really fascinating to see the work of the singers and the conductor, to see how the production is created. I also love visiting the Novaya opera theatre in Moscow. Jan Latham-Koenig is conducting there. His interaction with the orchestra is fantastic.”
He doesn’t think he’ll have much “time to go sightseeing” in Texas—but if he did, he’d very much like a tour of the “new opera house in Dallas that is of a red color.” (Make it happen, someone!)
Khozyainov spoke with Van Cliburn in Moscow at a 2009 master class organized by the Mstislav Rostropovich Foundation, and is “so sad” he won’t be able to meet him again in Texas.
“There were four of us in the class, and Van Cliburn was so benevolent,” he remembers. “He spoke to each one of us, and told me ‘You must come to Texas.’ I was coming, in hope to see Van Cliburn again in his motherland. But I am too late.”
◊ Here is a video of Nikolay Khozyainov at the Dublin competition in 2012, playing Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3:
Nikolay Khozyainov's Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Repertoire:
Preliminary Recital, Phase I
HAYDN Sonata in D Major, Hob. XVI:33
CHOPIN Etude in C Major, op. 10, no. 1
LISZT Transcendental Etude No. 5: Feux follets
SCRIABIN Etude in C-sharp Minor, op. 42, no. 5
RAVEL Gaspard de la nuit
Preliminary Recital, Phase II
CHOPIN Barcarolle in F-sharp Major, op. 60
CHOPIN Etude in A Minor, op. 10, no. 2
CHOPIN Berceuse in D-flat Major, op. 57
LISZT Sonata in B Minor
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, op. 110
PROKOFIEV Sonata No. 7 in B-flat Major, op. 83
LISZT-BUSONI Fantasy on two motives from Mozart’s Opera Marriage of Figaro
SCHUMANN Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, op. 44
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 22 in E-flat Major, K. 482
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, op. 30
◊ To see a slideshow of all of the competitors, with bios and links to our profiles of them, click here.