Kholodenko opens Friends of Chamber Music season with bravura, refined artistry

By Lawrence Budmen

Vadym Kholodenko performed music of Schubert and Prokofiev for Friends of Chamber Music Wednesday night at FIU Wertheim Performing Arts Center.

Some pianists dazzle audiences with displays of sheer technique. Others offer more refined musical sensibilities. 

Vadym Kholodenko manages to combine both of those artistic attributes. The Ukrainian pianist, now based in Luxembourg, has been a frequent visitor to Friends of Chamber Music. Kholodenko returned on Wednesday night to open the series’ season in stellar fashion at the FIU Wertheim Performing Arts Center. Works by Schubert and Prokofiev displayed his multi-faceted interpretive persona.

Prokofiev, early and mature, bookended the evening. In Four Pieces, Op. 3, Kholodenko captured the off-kilter rhythms and irreverent spirit of the initial Danza. The ensuing Minuet emerged acerbic yet charming, in rapid keyboard figures. The Gavotte breezed along with propulsive energy. Kholodenko turned these vignettes into a major creative statement, none more so than the final sad Waltz spun out in pearly hues.

Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 6 in A Major, Op. 82 is the first of his three wartime sonatas. The ferocity of the outer movements is leavened by an Allegretto and Tempo di valser lentissimo that could have come from a ballet score. Kholodenko charged through the opening Allegro moderato at intense heat, fistfuls of note dispatched at a rapid clip and extremes of volume. He balanced the pulsating energy and darker undercurrents of the moody and elegant waltz. From the first rumblings, the concluding Vivace was an astounding demonstration of pristine keyboard mastery that gave full force to the ominous tread of the concluding pages.

Between the Prokofiev works, two Schubert pieces offered a respite of Viennese sunshine. Kholodenko made his instrument sing, as well as resound percussively, in the Sonata in E-flat Major, underlining the contrasts throughout. The grave Andante molto was traversed with solemnity and astutely proportioned grandeur. Finely varied dynamics enhanced an aristocratic Menuetto and Italianate brio brought sparkle to the witty Allegro finale.

Kholodenko brought sweep and authority to Schubert’s Drei Klavierstucke. Variations of tempo were well judged and trills deftly executed in the final C Major confection. Kholodenko’s poetic side came to the fore in the central B-flat Major piece.

Following the Prokofiev sonata, a standing ovation brought Kholodenko back for a lovely encore—a Bagatelle by Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov. The Slavic perfume of its melodic beauty emerged with delicacy and lightness of touch.

Friends of Chamber Music presents the Schumann Quartett playing Haydn’s Quartet in C Major, Op. 54, no. 2, Kreisler’s Quartet in A minor and Beethoven’s Quartet in E-flat Major (“Harp”) 8 p.m. November 19 at FIU Wertheim  Performing Arts Center.              


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Thu Nov 3, 2022
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