The international press describes Zlata Chochieva as “the possessor of a comprehensive technique who brings an inner glow to every bar… Poetic and pianistic command could hardly go further” (Gramophone) and “a natural Rachmaninoff player, coaxing a darker sound from the keyboard and reveling in the big romantic melodies” (Miami Herald).
Crescendo magazine speaks of an “amazing easiness and extraordinary inner power” and Piano News writes: “… in each piece, she seems to be telling a story which words are unable to express.”
“... Anyone tackling these works needs a virtuoso technique, and that she clearly has. But with so many excellent pianists out there these days, it’s hard to be awed by that sort of thing, even though it represents world-class talent and years of hard work. What really distinguished her playing was an extraordinary richness of tone, a sensitivity to the musical phrase and the way she used her first-class technical skills to serve the music.
In Rachmaninoff’s rarely heard Variations on a Theme of Chopin, all of Chochieva’s virtues were on display. Her technique was so solid that she could spin complex embroideries of notes with both hands at high speed, yet with the main melodic line always clear, phrasing and pacing it in a manner to make it sing. The work is full of those big Rachmaninoff melodic climaxes familiar to anyone who knows his piano concertos, and she played these passages as powerful anthems, drawing an orchestral sonority from the instrument.
From Scriabin, she first played his early Piano Sonata No. 2. Throughout the work, but particularly in the lyric and melancholy second theme, which could have come from the pen of Chopin, she played in a deeply felt manner, personal without being self-indulgent, drawing attention to the composition rather than the interpretation. She played the concluding Presto at stunningly high speed, but with a force and drive that never let it become a blur.
Scriabin’s Sonata No. 9, known as the “Black Mass,” offered an entirely different work in tone and harmonic language. Chochieva entered into its pensive, eerie mood and brought a rumbling, clanging power to the wild, increasingly dissonant passages with which the work ended.
Rachmaninoff’s Etudes-tableaux, Op. 33, are a series of short pieces, each with a different color and mood. From thundering virtuosity to intimate melodic passages, Chochieva delivered whatever the music required. In even the most rapid-fire passages, her technique never turned brittle, always producing sounds that were rounded and sonorous.
As an encore, she gave a smooth and delicate performance of Rachmaninoff’s Daisies.”
— David Fleshler, Miami Herald, March 2015
“A famous pianist (I shan’t say who) to whom I was speaking recently said I really should hear this young Russian pianist Zlata Chochieva in the Chopin Etudes. ‘It is,’ averred my informant, ‘the greatest I’ve ever heard.’ Quite a claim.
I’ve now listened to this disc several times and all I can say is that in each of the 27 studies Chochieva comes as close as anyone to how I hear the ideal performance in my head, or as I would wish to play them had I the ability to do so. Right from the opening C major study, as in many others, she finds some extramusical narrative beyond the text that I find profoundly moving. Taken as read are a superlative technique and an ideal recorded sound (from engineer Peter Arts). No details are overlooked yet without drawing undue attention to them: note the staccato markings of the A minor study (richly voiced by Chochieva, the left hand sounds almost like a plucked string bass) and also in the second subject of No 3, a good example of the meltingly lovely tone Chochieva produces. No 4, so often tossed off as a finger sprint (Richter, Cziffra), is given room to breathe while still being played presto and con fuoco.
I could go on picking out highlights from each study – the question-and-answer voicing in No 9, the subtle rubato in Op 25 No 1, the infamous studies in thirds and sixths in which, simultaneously, Chochieva reminds us of Chopin the contrapuntalist – moments and passages which made me listen afresh to these familiar works and, in some cases, hear things of which I had been previously unaware. The greatest on disc? I don’t know; but it is certainly one of the most consistently inspired, masterfully executed and beautiful-sounding versions I can recall.”
— Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone, February 2015 (Review of Chopin’s complete Etudes / Piano Classics / 2014)
“Zlata Chochieva is a young, Moscow-born pianist who has been making the rounds of international competitions. She studied with Mikhail Pletnev, among others. Like most young Russian pianists recording today, excellent technique is a given with her. But more importantly, Chochieva is a Chopin player of style and charm. The closest approximation I know of on CDs to Chochieva’s account of the études is the excellent version by Juana Zayas. Both Zayas and Chochieva make full use of the widest dynamic range of their instruments to bring Chopin’s tone pictures to fruition. Also, neither pianist (perhaps naturally) exhibits the machismo to show how extraordinary their chops are in executing these pieces. For example, Zayas only takes a minute longer to traverse the canonical 24 études than Andrei Gavrilov does, while Chochieva takes just two minutes more; yet Gavrilov sounds rushed and occasionally cluttered compared with the two ladies. There are some important differences, though, between Zayas and Chochieva. The latter observes greater and suppler freedom in tempo than Zayas, almost in an old school manner. Given this and the fact that Zayas strives more often for a generically large tone, Zayas’s performances can feel somewhat anonymous compared with Chochieva’s. And Chochieva employs a whole additional world of sound in her pedaling, which is thoughtful and judicious while always giving life to her tone quality. For a young pianist, Chochieva presents us with a most accomplished and striking set of the études.
Among the highlights of Chochieva’s études, the filigree in the right hand of op. 10/2 is exceptionally gentle and alluring. No. 3 is chaste in manner. Chochieva portrays No. 5’s Vivace with a twinkle in her eye. She succeeds in gracefully rendering the counterpoint in No. 7. No. 9’s Agitato is implied with the subtlest rumination of unease. No. 11 evokes the fashionable aristocratic salon. For the first étude of op. 25, Chochieva supplies a plush tone that is evocatively sostenuto. She displays unusual attention to rhythmic acuity in No. 3. The B section of No. 5 contains the most touching representation of grief. No. 6 follows without a break; I cannot tell whether this was the artist’s choice or an editor’s mistake. Chochieva is exceptionally fleet-fingered here. She gives us a tragic view of life in No. 7, with a wonderful manipulation of the piano’s darker tones. Her right hand depicts storms and tempests in No. 11. The last of the op. 25 études is vibrant and exquisitely proportioned. For the third of the Trois Nouvelles Études, Chochieva paints a gentle pastel of shifting colors.
The sound engineering on the CD is very good, full-toned and glowing but with a slightly murky ambience. My favorite recordings of the études are by Louis Lortie and Abbey Simon; both display exquisite virtuosity and interpretive poise. But I am very impressed with Zlata Chochieva, and her CD will occupy a worthy place on my shelf. Her reading is unusually distinctive, especially mature and insightful for such a young pianist. You can add it to whatever accounts you have without fear of your interest cloying or its losing its freshness and imaginativeness.”
— Dave Saemann, Fanfare magazine, Nov/Dec 2014 (Review of Chopin’s complete Etudes / Piano Classics / 2014)
Piano Classics (2015)
Piano Classics (2014)
Chopin Variations Op. 22
Piano Sonata No. 1
Piano Classics (2012)
Scarlatti, Schumann, Prokofiev
REPERTOIRE AND PROPOSALS
Concerto in D minor BWV 1052
Concerto in E major BWV 1053
Concerto in F minor BWV 1056
Concerto No. 1 in C major Op. 15
Concerto No. 3 in C minor Op. 37
Concerto No. 1 in D minor Op. 15
Concerto No. 1 in E minor Op. 11
Concerto No. 2 in F minor Op. 21
Andante spianato & Grande polonaise brillante Op. 22
Symphonic Variations M. 46
Rhapsody in Blue
Concerto in A minor Op. 16
Concerto No. 1 in E flat major
«Totentanz» S. 126
Concerto No. 10 in E flat major K. 365 for 2 pianos
Concerto No. 12 in A major K. 414
Concerto No. 13 in C major K. 415
Concerto No. 17 in G major K. 453
Concerto No. 20 in D minor K. 466
Concerto No. 21 in C major K. 467
Concerto No. 23 in A major K. 488
Concerto No. 27 in B flat major K. 595
Concerto No. 2 in G minor Op. 16
Concerto No. 3 in C major Op. 26
Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp minor Op. 1
Concerto No. 2 in C minor Op. 18
Concerto No. 3 in D minor Op. 30
Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini Op. 43
Concerto for the left hand in D major
Concerto in G major
Concerto C-sharp minor Op. 30
Concerto in A minor Op. 54
Concerto in C minor for Piano, Trumpet and String Orchestra Op. 35
Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor Op. 23
The proposed program includes Misha Dacić’s 2-pianos transcription of Rachmaninoff cantata “The Bells” (a work that Zlata Chochieva and Misha Dacić have repeatedly performed in Russia and USA).
The program can be completed with, for example: the Symphonic Dances or one of the Suites by Rachmaninoff; Mozart D major Sonata for two pianos or transcriptions; Dacić’s transcriptions of Prokofiev or Shostakovich symphonies.