Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Kholodenko delivers stunning recital in his Portland Piano International debut

Photo credit: Jim Leisy

Guest Review by Ruta Kuzmickas

Gold Medalist of the Fourteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, pianist Vadym Kholodenko dazzled audiences in Portland at his Portland International Piano recital February 3rd at Lincoln Hall. Kholodenko brought to the stage a stunning array of virtuosity, altogether bound with an incredible musical depth.

Nikolai Medtner's "Forgotten Melodies" filled the first half of the program, dense with color and vivid imagination. Kholodenko's rich, golden sound breathed life into Medtner's various characters, rapidly ever-shifting textures and personalities. His execution of the piece was so profoundly engaging and enthralling that it left you suspended in time even after the audience leapt to its feet in a standing ovation.

Equally technically and intellectually brilliant, the second half consisted of Rachmaninoff transcriptions of various works: a Bach violin Partita, Schubert's "Wohin?," Mendelssohn's "Scherzo" from "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Tchaikovsky's "Lullaby, a polka by Franz Behr, and Kreisler's "Leibesleid and Leibesfreud." Kholodenko effortlessly mastered the challenge of stylistic merging of Rachmaninoff and each individual composer with unrivalled technical command and a captivating range of touch. He kept an erect posture, drawing strength from his back for thunderous, yet always clear and defined, sound. Softly voiced moments were unparalleled in beauty, and the Mendelssohn "Scherzo", the Italian term for "joke", was effectively humorous and devilishly charming.

Countless curtain calls and two encores (Liszt's "Paysage" and Chopin's E Minor Mazurka) concluded the evening, a performance of a musically robust virtuosity. The 27-year-old Vadym Kholodenko is truly an artist of high caliber, vibrant, and delightfully tasteful.

Ruta Kuzmickas is a 17 year old pianist and studies with Dr. Jean-David Coen. Ruta has appeared as a soloist on NPR's From the Top and is a recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award. She was featured by the Aspen Music Festival in a performance at Harris Concert Hall in 2013 alongside distinguished pianist Ann Schein. Ruta is also a two-time winner of MetroArt's Young Artists Debut: The Van Buren Concerto Concert and was named a 2014 Winner by the YoungArts Foundation.

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