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For Stephen Kovacevich, the Moscow-born Zlata Chochieva is a pianist ‘I would be interested to hear in anything she does, and that is rare’. Yet such praise is more than justified by this third recording for Piano Classics. Chochieva’s is a deeply personal approach to Rachmaninov, alive with an ‘inner glow’ that places emphasis, backed by a superlative technique, on the term ‘tableaux.’

Rachmaninov, like Chopin before him, fought shy of revealing the sources of his inspiration, allowing a touch of enigma to remain and leaving others to speak of oceans, seagulls and the tale of Red Riding Hood (Op 39 Nos 1, 2 and 6). And yet so vivid is Chochieva’s playing that she conjures pictures at every point.

In Op 39 No 7 her playing is arguably too free and fluid to capture the full strength of this astonishing elegy, with its massive carillon of Moscow bells and hints of the Russian liturgy. But elsewhere she is haunting and memorable, particularly in Op 33 No 2 with its blossoming from sombre beginnings into ravishing melodic beauty. In the violent rhetorical storms of Op 33 No 6 she gives a daunting display of high octane bravura, while in Op 39 No 2 her rubato, her musical breathing, like that of the greatest Russian singers, captures all of the composer’s desolating vision.

Together with Ashkenazy, Melnikov and Lugansky, Chochieva joins the finest recordings of these ultra-demanding etudes. She has been very well recorded and reminds you that ‘only a puritan could fail to respond’ to such poietic richness.

BRYCE MORRISON Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing