Performing Arts

Review: Kholodenko and Friends

Cliburn gold medalist Vadym Kholodenko performs with cellist Allan Steele at the Kimbell Art Museum’s Piano Pavilion on Friday, Jan. 15, 2016.
Cliburn gold medalist Vadym Kholodenko performs with cellist Allan Steele at the Kimbell Art Museum’s Piano Pavilion on Friday, Jan. 15, 2016. Special to the Star-Telegram

Vadym Kholodenko, gold medal winner of the last Van Cliburn Competition, has become an active resident of Fort Worth, which he and his family now call home.

In addition to a busy schedule elsewhere, he’s become practically an honorary member of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. He, Miguel Harth-Bedoya and the orchestra are nearing the end of recording Prokofiev’s five piano concertos. They’ll all be released on the Harmonia Mundi label.

Kholodenko is collaborating with the orchestra in other ways. An example is Friday night’s program in the Kimbell Museum’s Piano Pavilion. It was titled “Kholodenko and Friends,” and all of the participants except Kholodenko are members of the orchestra. They included violinists Michael Shih and Swang Lin, violist Dmitry Kustanovich and cellist Allan Steele.

The concert opened with two duos by Czech composer Leoš Janáček. The first was called Pohádka, or Fairy Tale in English. The performers were Steele and Kholodenko. A little-known piece, it turned out to be a real gem.

Steele, in prefatory remarks, explained that it told in music a story about a prince, a princess, an angry father and a wizard. The father doesn’t want the prince and princess to marry, but in the end (the allegro movement) love triumphs.

The work has some lovely music and a finale that is cheerfully “happy ever after” in mood. Steele and Kholodenko gave a flowing performance that made one want to hear this one again.

Unfortunately, some outside sounds bled into the pavilion. These weren’t much of a bother, but they were noticeable and repeated later in the evening. I hadn’t noticed this phenomenon in previous performances in the hall.

The other Janáček was his Sonata for Violin and Piano, with Shih and Kholodenko as the performers. This was also a winning performance of an appealing work. Shih gave the introductory remarks, pointing out the rather foreboding cast of the sonata, which was composed as World War I loomed on the horizon. A pleasant ballada was an upbeat interlude.

Everybody came onstage for a work that is familiar to Cliburn Competition audiences: Dvorak’s Piano Quintet in A, which has been played in many a Cliburn semifinal.

An early deadline kept me from hearing it all this time, but what I heard was enough to justify calling it one of the better Dvorak quintets played around here in recent times.

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