Chochieva goes her own subtle way at Frost Chopin Festival

By Lawrence Budmen

Zlata Chochieva performed Friday night for the Frost Chopin Festival.

Chopin was represented by only one work on Zlata Chochieva’s streamed recital on Friday night for the Frost Chopin Festival.  Still the Russian pianist’s artistry was strongly projected in rarities by Grieg and a full Ravel cycle that included two of the French impressionist’s iconic keyboard scores.

Chochieva has previously given impressive performances locally for the Miami International Piano Festival. She has taught at the Salzburg Mozarteum and currently resides in Berlin where her performance was filmed. (Like the other artists involved in the Frost festival, she also gave virtual classes for the student participants during the week.) Chochieva’s formidable technical skills are rarely deployed for sheer display purposes. As in  previous South Florida concerts, her playing was distinguished by keen musicianship, sensitivity to phrasing and shape and idiomatic affinity for her chosen repertoire. 

The four vignettes of Grieg’s Album Leaves are closer to the Parisian salon of Chopin’s era than the nationalist tinged miniatures of the composer’s Lyric Pieces. A sentimental Allegretto espressivo yearns with romance and a Vivace movement could have been a waltz penned by Chopin. Only in the final miniature does a typical Grieg melody and Norwegian dance theme appear. Chochieva’s airy touch astutely encapsulated the pieces’ charm. She brought breezy verve to the waltz and an unhurried pace to the lyrical ruminations. 

Ravel’s five Miroirs are often played separately. It was rewarding to hear the entire cycle, especially with Chochieva’s minute attention to tonal and dynamic shadings. The arpeggiated runs of “Noctuelles” were feathery and lithe. “Oiseaux tristes” was infused with glints of color and impressionistic sound painting. Chochieva drew a beautifully balanced sonority from a finely mellow Bechstein piano.

She conjured up the flow of waves in “Un barque sur l’océan.” The opening delicacy of sound and touch gave way to sweeping fortes, the visceral wind gusts strongly projected. “Alborada del gracioso” was distinguished by Chochieva’s understatement and lack of pounding bombast as in some more superficial readings. The driving seguidilla rhythm was given emphatic thrust and the contrasting episode languid scope. “La vallée des cloches” benefited from subtle chiaroscuro shading, the ringing bells differentiated in tone and coloration.

Chopin’s Scherzo No. 4 in E Major, Op. 54 had been played on the previous evening’s program by Margarita Shevchenko. Chochieva’s differing interpretive perspective was equally valid. Rapid, darting patterns in the opening bars formed a prelude to the broad melodic interlude The concluding bold flourishes capped an exciting display of pianistic bravura.

The Frost Chopin Festival presents pianist Kevin Kenner playing Schumann’s Waldszenen and Chopin’s Variations on “Là ci darem’ la mano” and Andante spianato and grand polonaise brilliante  7 p.m. Saturday.   Free streaming at http://bit.lyFestivalRecitalIV  

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Sat Jul 10, 2021
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