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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Vadym Kholodenko, Gold Medalist Van Cliburn International Competition 2012, Plays Stravinsky and Liszt

The world of international competitions is as far removed from me right now as another world is close, the world of a major ice and snow storm, which is happening outside my window in New Jersey as I type this. If there was a competition I had to attend today it would be out of the question that I could get there, or anywhere else for that matter. Yet the beauty of the outside scenario--the continuing sleet, the natural and man-made landscape as an ice sculpture in the making, complements what I play for a last listen as I review it--that is Ukranian pianist Vadym Kholodenko's Gold Medal winning performance from the Van Cliburn International Competition of 2012 (Harmonia Mundi 907605).

So though I may be far removed from such things physically this morning, the music is very near. The CD covers Kholodenko's performances of Stravinsky's Trois Mouvements de Petrouchka and the 12 movements from Liszt's Transcendental Etudes.

And judging from this spectacular disk, they chose very well indeed. Kholodenko in every way fits the bill of a thrilling virtuoso pianist in the Van Cliburn tradition. He shows us the Transcendental Etudes in all their symphonic pyrotechnical glory.

And then, my special favorite, he puts us into Stravinsky's effervescent world of Petrouchka (in the solo piano version) with rousing spirit.

Here is a pianist of phenomenal technique recording live, without a safety net, at the very recital that helped catapult him into world virtuoso stardom--in incredible detail, with superb dynamism, beautiful energy and zest.

It is one of those experiences one no doubt would not forget if he or she was there. We have the next best thing, front row seats to a virtual recreation of the performance that we can experience as many times as we like.

Very much recommended.

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