Vadym Kholodenko

Grieg, Saint-Saëns: Piano Concertos

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Born in Kiev, pianist Vadym Kholodenko received a mighty career boost when he won the 2013 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition gold medal, after which he settled in Fort Worth, Texas. Some might feel that in the Grieg Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16, there is something of the quality that prize juries love: every note is in its place, every line carefully smoothed out. In a work recorded as often as the Grieg this is a paradoxically risky career move, but Kholodenko's level of control is a thing of beauty in itself. The blooming of major tonality in the middle of the second movement is quite restrained in the hands of Kholodenko and the Norwegian Radio Orchestra under Miguel Harth-Bedoya, maybe too restrained, but the sheer unfailing precision in the outer movements is something from which any pianist can learn. Kholodenko is shown in perhaps his best light in the Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22, of Saint-Saëns, a work written in just over two weeks for a performance with Anton Rubinstein on the baton and Saint-Saëns himself on the piano. Annotator Jo Kirkbride quotes Berlioz's priceless complaint that Saint-Saëns "lacked inexperience," but the Piano Concerto No. 2 and its easy flash receive an ideal performance here. Another attraction is excellent sound from Harmonia Mundi, working in the NRK Store Studio in Oslo.

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