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2013 VAN CLIBURN INTERNATIONAL PIANO COMPETITION


  http://www.theaterjones.com/2013vancliburninternationalpianocompetition/20130601172440/2013-06-07/Cliburn-Finals-Vadym-Kholodenko
Vadym Kholodenko in his final performance at the Cliburn on June 9

Cliburn Finals: Vadym Kholodenko

Reviews of the final concerti performances by the 26-year-old Ukrainian in the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Second performance added.



published Sunday, June 9, 2013

Concerto 1: Friday, June 7

PROKOFIEV   Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, op. 26

With Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and conductor Leonard Slatkin

Photo: Robert Hart
Vadym Kholodenko in his first concerto performance of the final rounds

 

Vadym Kholodenko laid down a marker with his fiery performance of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26. He is certainly the one to beat considering his excellent performance of this concerto combined with a previous mindboggling trip through 11 of Liszt’s Transcendental Études. He also delivered the only performance of Stravinsky’s Trois mouvements de Pétrouchka that gave a hat tip to what is actually going on in the ballet.

This is Prokofiev’s most accessible concerto and combines his percussive style with his more expressive side. It is completely tonal, although you have to stretch in some places to do an analysis. It also displays some of his loveliest romantic leanings. Not only did Kholodenko display a mastery of the awesome technical demands, he also gave the piece all of the lyricism it requires.

The first movement was fast, but not so fast that the music didn’t have room to speak. Often, it is so fast that it all blurs. He also observed all of the dynamics, including impressive pianissimo passages and a terrific build to the final fortissimo at the end of the movement. Conductor Leonard Slatkin gave him an evocative introduction to the second movement and Kholodenko changed the mood without seeming to be playing another piece. In the third variation, Kholodenko emphasized the lopsided gait of the music, even physically as he nodded his head along with it. This is just the kind of physicality that complements the performance instead of detracting from it visually. In the fiendishly difficult fifth variation, his accuracy in all of the double octaves brought his Liszt performance to mind.

In the third movement, his move into the più mosso was as smooth as his other transitions (which abound in this concerto). While the meno mosso in the orchestra was too loud, Kholodenko didn’t allow it to change his game plan and kept to the marked piano and then into the pianissimo. The crescendo to triple forte was done without overplaying. His only dynamic departure from the score came on the last pages. It is only marked forte until the last four measures, but he had a head of steam driving to the finish line that was nearly impossible to moderate.

This was a nearly flawless performance, in full Prokofiev style, that would befit any professional who is playing on the circuit today. On Sunday, Kholodenko returns to play Mozart. He may have wished that this performance was his last impression on the judges, but a characteristically accurate and elegant performance of a Mozart concerto can be every bit as impressive as Prokofiev’s percussive excursions.

 

◊ Links to the other finalists in this session: Sean ChenTomoki Sakata 


Concerto 2: Sunday, June 9

MOZART   Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467

With Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and conductor Leonard Slatkin

Photo: Robert Hart
Vadym Kholodenko in his final performance at the Cliburn on June 9

 

 

Vadym Kholodenko has been on every short list, even before the competition started, by reputation. All of his earlier appearances have been universally praised. I was the exception in not offering unqualified admiration for his performance of the Franck Piano Quintet, which I found to be directionless but which others found profound. His performance of the Prokofiev third piano concerto in the final round cemented his place in the top tier, not to mention his mindboggling trip through all but one of Liszt’s Transcendental Études. He ended with a display of subtlety, with Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467, disproving (hopefully) the axiom that only the loud and fast succeed.   

The first movement was taken at quite a clip, as was the last movement. While this created a feeling of the music hurrying along in places, it enabled him to display his nimble fingers once again for both audience and judges. His minimal use of pedal allowed us to hear every note, even in the fastest passages. This was an incredibly clean and transparent performance.

Velocity, however, was not the takeaway. His phrasing was the most remarkable aspect. Mozart was in a hurry with his manuscripts and didn’t add in all the detail that later composers did, so much is left up to the performer, and editions differ. Kholodenko never exceeded a modest fortissimo and parsed out even these few loud moments. He added numerous little dynamic touches that enhanced the phrases and kept the performance interesting for even the most seasoned listener. The slow movement, made famous by its inclusion in the 1967 Swedish film Elvira Madigan, was played simply, with a singing line and without over-emoting or lingering on every ritard.

Another original aspect of Kholodenko’s performance was that he wrote his own cadenzas. They were fascinating in themselves for their originality and display of as muich virtuosity as a composer as he showed as a pianist. Fugal passages were marvelous and he made use of all of the material in the movement, including some extended sequences, something that Mozart would not have used but would have loved.

 

◊ Our profile of Vadym Kholodenko, 26, Ukraine

Review of Semifinal Recital and Chamber performances

◊ Review of Preliminary Recital Phase I

◊ Review of Preliminary Recital Phase II

◊ You can see quick links to the reviews of the other finalists here Thanks For Reading




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Cliburn Finals: Vadym Kholodenko
Reviews of the final concerti performances by the 26-year-old Ukrainian in the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Second performance added.
by Gregory Sullivan Isaacs

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