Silicon Valley, CA -- In his November 12, Live and Streamed piano concert, the third, in the 28th Season of piano concerts presented by the Steinway Society the Bay Area, Ukrainian pianist Vadym Kholodenko demonstrated his piano mastery to his audience, in a concert which combined the Classical music of Franz Schubert (l797-l828), known for his melodic compositions considered by many the start of the Romantic Era, with Early 20 Century compositions by Russian pianist, conductor, and composer of many music genres, Sergerevich Prokofiev (l891-1953), known in the music world, for his disdain of composition's traditions and preference for angular melodies, pungent harmonies, clashing sounds, and writing musical dissonant works where his expression, has priority. In Prokofiev's way of thinking, music does not have to have a pleasant sound.
Dressed in a black suit, white shirt and dark tie, Kholodenko started his concert playing Four Pieces, Op.32 written for piano by Prokofiev in 2018. The pieces are: 1 Dance, 2 Minuet , 3 Gavotte, and 4 Waltz, and were first performed by their author in New York, in 1919, and in Moscow, in 1922.
In structure, The Dance, is based on a four-note theme, which we hear in the middle notes and then moves to the higher tones where is altered by adding a note. and then repeats as we first heard it. At one point, the four-note theme is structured as a Question and Answer, and the original theme is answered by a five note theme, and each time the theme plays, it is answered, and after being slightly altered, moving to the bass. The Dance continues as the themes repeat or are changed and after various rhythmic repetitions,it ends. Because of the changes, the execution of the piece is difficult, but while interpreting the piece the fingers' dexterity of the pianist and his ability to alter slightly the volume of its sound, allow the audience to listen to every single note.
Similar in structure as The Dance, the The Minuet is also based on a moving Theme, but in this particular piece, the Theme sound is blurred and harder to detect when listening to it, because it is not as clearly defined as the theme was in the Dance.
In its construction, The Gavotte, which as we know is a French dance in a moderate quadruple meter, is thematic also. Its theme is longer, it has 7 notes, and it is difficult to detect it by ear because in each repetition it has some notes added to it, and its sound is slightly changed. So here we should mention that the magnificent interpretation of the piece by Kholodenko, allowed the audience to listen clearly, each one of the the slightly different interpretations by masterfully emphasized the thematic notes. The slight emphasis allowed those listening carefully, to recognize the theme, even when each one of its interpretations, and even its sound, was different.
The sound of the piano music changed completely when he began playing the music of Schubert, the second composer in Kholodenko's program. In his interpretation of Schubert's Sonata in E-flat Major, D.568. the first movement, The Allegro Moderato, was perfect in execution, and the dexterity of the pianist fingers allowed the audience to listen every note clearly. His interpretation of Schubert, at the beginning of this movement, however, needed more feeling. As the piece went on, little by little started getting more expressive and the perfect digitalization of the pianist allowed us to listen to the sound of every single note. The second movement the Andante Molto, in our opinion, was perfect. It was played seamlessly, and with what we determined using the passion-injected interpretation required for a Schubert's work.
After another brief break, the pianist returned to the stage to play Two Pieces for Piano by Prokofiev. Things in themselves (Choses en soil), Op. 45.A and 45B and Sonata No 6 in A Major, Op.82.
Addressing the audience, Kholodenko explained that there had been a little misprint in the program, and that the Opus numbers following Things in Themselves, which were listed as Opus 45A and Opus 45B in the program. ere wrong because letters A and B were not the Opus numbers, but that A, B, were the names of the compositions. He explained that when Prokofiev was writing them, he had given them the letters names (A and B) using the German notion which used Letters, to name Abstract and independent of all observation compositions. and Prokofiev Sonata No 6 in A Major, Op. 82, 1 Allegro Moderato, 2. Allegretto, 3 Tempo di Valzer lentissimo and 4. Vivace. "So," he continued "what you are going to listen to, are the most abstract sounds of Prokofiev's music that you have ever heard. So you can make your own stories when you are listening."
And what he was correct in warning the audience, because what he began playing, and we began listening were unfamiliar sounds: dissonant chords, a series of fast scales, rapid and sudden changes of speed, and volume, which in a minute went from FF, which is very loud, to pianissimo. The sounds we heard on that night, are not easy to describe. In the Sonata:
The Allegro Moderato was loud. The melody constructed by a fast series of ascending and descending fast scales, that when moved to the upper keyboard, were played by both hands and increased their speed and their volume, this time going to the extremes and changing from Fortissimo to piano descending and ending in the low keyboard.
In The Allegretto the running notes played changed rhythms and where sprinkled by heavy chords. The notes (since the piece has no melody) moved very fast,up and down all over the keyboard and at the end, changed their loud volume and stopped.
The Tempo di Valze, Lentissimo, (extremely slow) Di Valze, didn't have the Valze tempo, and did not sound like a Valze. The piece has a sort of melody, which we may describe as a theme, but that it was not a theme because it did not repeat. (of if it did, we could not detect its repetition). In rhythm, the Valze (waltz) must sway, but this Valze does not sway. It also lacks a melodic line and most of its notes are accompanied by disjointed chords. However, the piece has a very short, melodic passage in the high notes close to the end, which we may compare to a chirping of birds. That sounded lovely.
And The Vivace, as its name indicates, has a lively rhythm, but its volume was very loud. The body of the composition was a series of fast scales and arpeggios running from the low notes to the high notes of the keyboard, moving faster and faster and ending in the low keyboard with a loud chords, so loud, that when the pianist's hand hit them, the grand piano vibrated.
The concert ended with a lovely Encore, written by an Ukrainian composer named Valentin Silvestrov. It was a short melody which melodic sound may be compared to a Chopin's piece. Before playing it, Kholodenko informed the audience that it was written by a young composer that because of the war, was forced to immigrate to Belin, where he is now composing.
For information and to purchase tickets for future concerts in the Steinway Society Bay Area 28th Season Concert Series go to: https://steinwaysociety.com/tickets/.