Gilmore Keyboard Festival: “Zlata Chochieva brings an intuitive and poetic touch to Chopin, Rachmaninoff”
“<…> the Moscow-born artist demonstrated formidable command of technique and poetic prowess as her music-making unfolded organically and sublimely during the sold-out concert.
<…> From moodiness to luminousness, from tenderness to sheer power, Chochieva delivered what the music [Rachmaninoff’s Chopin Variations] demanded with a turn of her own ingenuity. Many interpretations of the work dwell on the sulky side, but Chochieva’s take was one of pure elegance. Another common critique of the piece is that it often feels incoherent and rambling, but in Chochieva’s hands it never felt prolonged or dubious. She adroitly made the main theme clear throughout, and focused on the inherent character of each variation until they escalated into a thrilling and sonorous maelstrom of a finale. <…> As validated by Sunday’s performance, the 32-year-old possesses a musical maturity that surpasses many of her peers. Chochieva’s lack of hesitancy in the face of assumed expectations is refreshing, as is her commitment to unveiling the beauty behind every note.”
– Revue Magazine, Samara Napolitan, 2017
The Guardian: “Zlata Chochieva is the real discovery”
“… Chochieva, though, is the real discovery; her account of the two sets of Etudes-Tableaux, performances of huge emotional scope and intense drama, are as fine as any on disc, while she revels in the dark textures of the First Sonata and makes the Chopin Variations seem a much more convincing work than it can often seem.”
BR Klassik: “GESTURE OF BLAZING PASSION”
“Etudes-Tableaux – Rachmaninov. Over faltering, metrically bumpy marching steps: as though chiseled, a syncopated melody full of internal tension. As soon as the first bars of the F minor Etude op. 33 No. 1 begin, it becomes clear that an extraordinary pianistic personality is at work here.
This music can seldom be heard to be so embossed with differentiation, metalically sprung and dynamic as under the hands of the Russian Zlata Chochieva. Her compatriot Sergei Rachmaninov would certainly have enjoyed this playing.
<…>The composer’s etudes have, on occasion, been criticised for a lack of any remarkable inspiration. Zlata Chochieva’s playing, however, relegates any such suggestions to clear falsehoods. With energetic accuracy and impeccable technique, this wonderful musician manages to open up the inner vastness of a fascinatingly lively world and make it transparent. Last but not least, the persuasiveness of her interpretations is also based on an unerring feeling for the architectural disposition of the pieces, which forms the basis for the occasional almost improvisatory gesture of blazing passion.”
Miami Herald: “Pianist Zlata Chochieva excels in Rachmaninoff, Scriabin”
“… 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. <…> 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.”
Gramophone: Review of Chopin’s complete Etudes Editor’s Choice
“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.”
Fanfare magazine: Review of Chopin’s complete Etudes
“<…> 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.”
Crescendo: 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.”
Piano News: Review of Chopin’s complete Etudes
“<…> in each piece, she seems to be telling a story which words are unable to express (op.25 no.7). <…> 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.”
Klassieke Zaken: Review of Chopin’s complete Etudes
“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.”
Jos van der Zanden
Classical Net: Review of Chopin’s complete Etudes
“<…> 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, ending to shun temporary effects in favor of harnessing the overall emotional and intellectual climate of the piece <…> 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!
<…> 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.”
Leeuwarder Courant: Review of Rachmaninov album (Chopin Variations Op. 22, Piano Sonata No. 1)
“<…> 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.”
Fono Forum: “Genuine”
Review of Rachmaninov album (Chopin Variations Op. 22, Piano Sonata No. 1 / Piano Classics / 2012)
“<…> 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: Review of Rachmaninov album (Chopin Variations, Piano Sonata No. 1)
“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.”
Gramophone: Review of Rachmaninov album (Chopin Variations, Piano Sonata No. 1)
“<…> 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…”
“The performance of Zlata Chochieva has become a real revelation”
“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.
<…> She puts down her hands on the keys and they produce a sound of a powerful inner strength. <…> 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. <…> 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, 2007