Notes and Editorial Reviews
Piano Sonata in e.
Vadym Kholodenko (pn)
DELOS 3467 (64:41)
The liner notes for this release, by one Carol Rosenberger, proclaims that “The legendary Russian pianism of yesteryear is alive and well. When I listen to Vadym play the piano, I feel that I am witnessing a musical reincarnation.” Hmmm … wasn’t the same claim made for Evgeny Kissin, Vladimir Feltsman, Alexei Lubimov, Arcadi Volodos, and (fill
in the blank) who is the current “most exciting (or sought-after) pianist of his generation”? (Or, in the case of Lubimov, “one of the most strikingly original and outstanding pianists performing today.”) Really, this kind of hype automatically makes me put a wall of wariness up before I even hear them play one note.
That being said, I liked a little of the big-boned sweep of Kholodenko’s playing, especially in the Medtner sonata which is the best piece on this disc. Written in 1911, when Medtner was 31, it is considered his masterpiece. I found it a rather interesting, musically meatier version of Rachmaninoff, although its reliance on melody and ostentatious, two-handed keyboard sweeps left me a little cold. One must listen closely to discover the underlying structure, with its masterful use of counterpoint and dense (if resolutely tonal) chords, but such listening really is rewarding. (Lindsay Koob’s liner notes consistently stress the opinion that Medtner’s music is “comparatively austere and less overtly tuneful,” but I truly wonder what Koob defines as “tuneful.”) Medtner was very much a school-of-Rubinstein-and-Tchaikovsky kind of composer, not at all in the vanguard being spearheaded at that time by Scriabin or Stravinsky. As I say, however, it is a very interesting work and is played with great outward flash by Kholodenko.
Regarding the Rachmaninoff transcriptions, they are your typical virtuoso show-off works. This particular group includes three movements from Bach’s Violin Partita No. 3 (including the well-known Prelude), Schubert’s song
the Scherzo from Mendelssohn’s
Midsummer Night’s Dream,
Tchaikovsky’s Lullaby, Kreisler’s
and Rachmaninoff’s own Polka. If you enjoy this sort of thing (I don’t), you will certainly enjoy Kholodenko’s flash and glitter. In brief, I liked (but did not love) the Medtner sonata, disliked the Rachmaninoff transcriptions, and found Kholodenko to be a pianist of average-good technique and the kind of bravura style I personally have never warmed up to, but if your sensitivities are inclined towards this school of pianism you’ll love this disc.
FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
Works on This Recording
Liebesfreud by Fritz Kreisler
Vadym Kholodenko (Piano)
Length: 6 Minutes 8 Secs.
Piano Sonata No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 25: Introduzione: Andante - Allegro
Piano Sonata No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 25: Allegro molto sfrenatamente
Bach - Violin Partita No. 3 in E Major, BWV 1006: I. Prelude
Bach - Violin Partita No. 3 in E Major, BWV 1006: III. Gavotte
Bach - Violin Partita No. 3 in E Major, BWV 1006: VII. Gigue
Mendelssohn - A Midsummer Night's Dream: I. Scherzo
Behr - Lachtaubchen, "Polka de WR"
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