Miami Herald: «Pianist Zlata Chochieva excels in Rachmaninoff, Scriabin» March 2015

“… 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

 

Gramophone – February 2015

Review of Chopin’s complete Etudes / Piano Classics / 2014

“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

 

Fanfare magazine – Nov / Dec 2014

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’sAgitato 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 theTrois 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

 

Piano News — 5/2014

Review of Chopin’s complete Etudes / Piano Classics / 2014

“The Études by Frédéric Chopin, Opus 10 and 25, composed between 1828 and 1836, prove various challenges in terms of technique of their playing. Yet they are full of refinement, expressiveness and feeling. Any pianist is tempted to make his own attempt at rendering their sentiments. The Études should make imagination draw pictures of beauty and music, with all the technical difficulties fading away. This is the impression created by Zlata Chochieva, a young pianist from Russia, who had made her remarkable debut with less known piano pieces written by Rachmaninov. Some records of the Études may sound like exercises for fingers, but they revive like a book whose chapters are made of music pieces, as soon as the whole set is performed in one joining context. That is what we hear in Zlata Chochieva’s playing: in each piece, she seems to be telling a story which words are unable to express (op.25 no.7). Even though in fast Études – and generally – she opts for rather vivid tempo, she never robs the transparency of their contents. Technically, her playing is of good quality, seemingly effortless, and not too overburden with effects. Natural, sensual, powerful flow of music comes straight into soul. The pleasure she feels during playing turns into the pleasure one feels during listening. All in all, her playing can surely rival recordings of the famous pianists.”

Isabel Fedrizzi

 

Crescendo — 5/2014

Review of Chopin’s complete Etudes / Piano Classics / 2014

“Among myriads of brilliantly performed studies by Chopin, there are just few performances which, apart from virtuoso form, highlight the whole might of lyrics and ardent thrust of his “songs without words” so strongly that technical excellence becomes unimportant. This poetic transformation of mere “exercise” is what a young and unrenowned Russian who has been appearing before public since she was eight was able to demonstrate. 29 years-old Zlata Chochieva tackles even the severest technical challenges easily and with lyrical finesse bringing a touch of sophisticated process into the melodic whirl. She turns everything of earthy and expressly objective nature into a profoundly romantic rustle of changing sounds, soft passages, and meaningful vocal lines. Her performance sounds dazzlingly a bit like an “old school” but with deliberate concentration on the essence of these unique musical pieces. Someone will probably want to see more clear contours and sharp profile of Chopin’s characters but these will be completely offset in the stormy final parts of both cycles by grandiose ability of Chochieva to emphasize nuances.”

Attila Csampai

 

Klassieke Zaken – 4/2014

Review of Chopin’s complete Etudes / Piano Classics / 2014

“In 1995, newspapers were writing a lot about an 8-years old girl with a phenomenal manner of performing Mozart in Moscow concerts. Wonder kids often suffer unlucky fate but Zlata Chochieva managed to build a career of world class artist through continuing learning, seeking and receiving consultations from the world’s great pianists, and consistent efforts of doing away with flaws. Today, she combines her unmatched technical skills with musical inventiveness and strong vision of style. All these make what cannot go unnoticed if you listen to her performance of Chopin studies attentively – her individual feeling. In performance of those sparkling and tricky pieces, Chochieva relies heavily on her exceptional skill, while for more orderly and poetic effusions of Chopin she allows “free play” to her own vision of the theme. Polyphony, dramatic pauses, rapidly changing registers, and voluminous chords still supporting the melody with at least a single note inside are all dazzling the listeners. Like, for example, the Study 25 No. 7 where the choice of interpretations is available. Lugging the listeners away with her graceful play, she does not afford herself even a second of over-indulgence with romantic manner. She may elect a metrically unconstrained rubato, but then again, by surprise, her Steinway will run a rigorous and rhythmical study.”

Jos van der Zanden

 

Classical Net — 2014

Review of Chopin’s complete Etudes / Piano Classics / 2014

«Russian pianist Zlata Chochieva (b. 1985, Moscow), a student of Mikhail Pletnev and graduate of the Moscow State Conservatory in 2012, has won numerous international piano competitions. Despite her youth, her keyboard style divulges a sense of maturity in the Chopin etudes, a maturity supported by an arsenal of natural talent, good instincts and superior intelligence.

Chochieva displays an excellent grasp of Chopin’s subtle weaving of melodies with harmonies and rhythms. In almost every one of these etudes she deftly captures the essential character of the music, tending to shun temporary effects in favor of harnessing the overall emotional and intellectual climate of the piece. She uses the pedal most effectively, whether discreetly or liberally, and has wide ranging dynamics. Try her lovely account of #3 in E Major, Op. 10, where the main theme sings beautifully: notice the velvety tones she achieves through many gradations of dynamics and deft use of the pedal. Also, try #3, in F Major, Op. 25, where she delivers a leisurely but charming performance. The ensuing Etude in A minor is played with a more staccato touch and is brilliantly colorful in its jaunty romp. Her Black Keys Etude (#5, in G Flat Major, Op. 10) ripples with virtuosity yet never sounds rushed or overdone in its playful joy.

Chochieva doesn’t shortchange the darker side of Chopin: try the inconsolable #6, in E flat minor, Op. 10, where the pervading gloom is delivered with a flowing mesmerism in Chochieva’s perfect pacing and velvety touch. Chochieva turns in a gentle, subtle account of #1, in A Flat Major, Op. 25. In fact, in many pieces that other pianists either rush or play too loudly, she shows tasteful restraint and a seemingly perfect sense for the right tempo: try #5, in E minor, Op. 25, for an imaginative and utterly arresting performance from first note to last. I’ll write ditto for the ensuing G Sharp minor Etude. Chochieva plays the octaves in the outer sections of #10, in B minor, Op. 25, with a perfect sense for the music’s grimness and desperation, and the middle section comes across with a melting peacefulness. A great performance! The Winter Wind Etude, (#11, Op. 25) gets an effectively stately yet stormy treatment from Chochieva. The Trois Nouvelles Etudes are also brilliantly played by her, and I must declare that among young pianists I have heard in recent years, she would seem to be among the most talented and likely to have a major career. Excellent sound reproduction from Piano Classics. Chochieva has made at least three other recordings, which feature a range of repertory from Domenico Scarlatti sonatas to Rachmaninov’s rarely heard First Sonata and Prokofiev’s popular Seventh.”

Robert Cummings

 

Leeuwarder Courant – June 2013

Review of Rachmaninov album (Chopin Variations Op. 22, Piano Sonata No. 1 / Piano Classics / 2012)

“The young Russian pianist Zlata Chochieva belongs to the group “highly promising”, and is even above that. At least judging from the recording of two rarely played works by Rachmaninoff, which were once premiered in the same concert: the Chopin Variations and the First Sonata.
The Russian, who is already playing the main podia of the world, not only amazes us with her effortless technique but also with her instinct for what is behind the notes, a world which she opens up without any trace of artificiality. In her hands variations are more than mere athletic exercises. She grabs the essentials, she deepens and enervates, while playing with the Chopin theme, all with the greatest ease and naturalness. And then the Sonata, after personages from Goethe’s Faust: what colours and what understanding of the inner drama. She will become one of the ‘greats’ — in fact, she already is.”

Rudolf Nammensma

 

Piano News — May 2013

Review of Rachmaninov album (Chopin Variations Op. 22, Piano Sonata No. 1 / Piano Classics / 2012)

“The young pianist Zlata Chochieva could have found more popular works for her debut album for Piano Classics label. Courageously and powerfully she dashes for Rachmaninoff’s Chopin Variations op. 22. Piano sonata No. 1 d-moll op. 28 usually stays in the shadow of the later b flat minor sonata as well (this work is usually preferred by CD debutants). Gloomily feels Zlata the dramaturgical development of the work; after all, Rachmaninoff’s sonata No. 1 follows Liszt’s “Faust-Symphony”, its three movements representing Faust, Gretchen and Mephistopheles. Technically brilliant, clear and stringent plays the pianist Chopin Variations. She might have made a more brilliant display with other works, however Zlata Chochieva courageously demonstrates a profound acquaintance with the works of the young Rachmaninoff.”

Anja Renczikowski

 

Fono Forum: “Genuine” May 2013

Review of Rachmaninov album (Chopin Variations Op. 22, Piano Sonata No. 1 / Piano Classics / 2012)

“London recording label “Piano Classics” presents two virtuoso and
rarely sounding works by Rachmaninoff in his “golden age” performed by
the young Zlata Chochieva. The experts will appreciate the choice of the young pianist, the amateurs will be attracted by the interpretation.
Flexible, fresh performance without any tendency to imitation, splendid
sound together with the almost meticulously organized form – it is a
wonderful work by the talented Muscovite.”

 

Musicweb International — March 2013

Review of Rachmaninov album (Chopin Variations Op. 22, Piano Sonata No. 1 / Piano Classics / 2012)

“Zlata Chochieva is a pianist’s pianist and the booklet quotes glowing comments from Stephen Kovacevich and Pascal Devoyon about her playing with Kovacevich remarking that he would be “interested to hear anything she does … and that is rare”. This disc fully justifies their opinions. The disc is highly enjoyable and I never felt that the works were over-long or of dubious value; on the contrary I found them thrilling in the extreme and couldn’t wait to play them again and again.”

Steve Arloff

 

Gramophone – February 2013

Review of Rachmaninov album (Chopin Variations Op. 22, Piano Sonata No. 1 / Piano Classics / 2012)

“… 28 year old Zlata Chochieva, the possessor of a comprehensive technique who brings an inner glow to every bar. Her playing is indelibly Russian in its fullness and warmth, backed by dauntless and easy command. What hallucinatory play of light and shade in in Var. 2, what lightness and brilliance in the skittering waltz patterns of Var. 21. Choosing the wild virtuoso interlocked chording close to the set, she then goes on to play the First Sonata with a wonder of delicacy and power. Poetic and pianistic command could hardly go further…”

Bryce Morrison

 

Crescendo magazine: «The performance of Zlata Chochieva has become a real revelation» May 2007

“The performance of Zlata Chochieva has become a real revelation. Nothing distracted in this neat silhouette bent over the piano. Her playing impresses by lightness and unordinary inwardness.
In Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes she presents the theme clearly and nobly. This person of figure has totally natural sounds on the forte. She puts down her hands on the keys and they produce a sound of a powerful inner strength.
When Schumann resorts to a mystery, she follows him. We walk on mazy paths so as to reach a culmination in apotheosis.
Zlata Chochieva knows what the hell is and one can feel it in Prokofiev’s Seventh Sonata, in performance of which her remarkable strength makes the piece sound powerfully, unexpectedly and expressively.
The final part is developed in a long crescendo, in constant pulsation on the way to reach a cosmic explosion. With the same undivided attention, which she had when appeared on stage, Zlata Chochieva left the stage in spite of uproarious applause of the audience. People will talk about it…”

 

Crescendo magazine: «Mozart a-la-Zlata» May 2007

“Notwithstanding the intense romantic passion Zlata Chochieva approaches the radiant inner world of Mozart’s concerto no.27 with the aid of Wallonie Chamber Orchestra,
apparently charmed by her introspective performance and assisting her in terms of tense, passionate and effervescent musicality.
The dialogue between Zlata Chochieva and the orchestra is performed in a continuous search for Mozart’s harmony.
Allegro, which was played «a-la-Zlata», so to say, edgy, brightly, sometimes ‘rapidamente’, emphasizes the adolescent character of Mozart’s concerto.
So we have a brilliant performer, who without any intrusion suggests us a noble and strained breakthrough.”