As a teen-ager three years ago, Nikolay Khozyainov was a finalist at the Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, considered the Cliburn’s equal in prestige. In Fort Worth this week, he has been dubbed Little Mozart for his ample hair and cherubic looks.Which might explain the anticipation for his opening recital on Saturday night. Based on the standing ovation when he finished a fiendishly challenging sonata by Ravel, he didn’t disappoint.Afterward, Khozyainov wasn’t exactly loquatious.“It’s very nice to play here,” he said. “It’s my Texas debut.”He was told about his local knickname.“If people want to call me that, it’s up to them,” Little Mozart said.In his program, Khozyainov opened with a Haydn sonata to showcase his lyricism and musicality. His next three pieces were etudes, or short pieces composed to bedevil piano students, or in the case of the 20-year-old Russian, give him a chance to show the Bass Hall audience how fast and loud he could play without losing the art.Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit, is considered one of the most challenging parts of the piano repertoire, particulary the third movement that involves much fast playing and the crossing of hands. No big deal.“I love this music,” he said afterward.
Tim Madigan, 817-390-7544 Twitter: @tsmadigan