Dmytro Choni’s Solo CD Debut

Review by: Jed Distler


Artistic Quality: 7

Sound Quality: 8

Winner of the 2018 Paloma O’Shea Santander International Piano Competition, Ukrainian pianist Dmytro Choni (born in 1993) offers a solo debut CD with repertoire spanning most of the 20th century. He displays excellent technique and sensitivity in Debussy’s Reflets dans l’eau. However, he tends to slow down for transitions and consequently sectionalizes the music, perhaps to ensure accuracy in face of the unforgiving microphone. Choni does this in Hommage à Rameau, where you expect the narrative to move in a steady, forward flow. It might seem unfair to say that Mouvement lacks the lightness and remarkable dynamic control one hears from Aimard, Bavouzet, Moravec, and Michelangeli, yet comparative listening must speak for itself.

Choni appears more stylistically at home with the Ginastera First sonata’s asymmetrically churning rhythms (especially in the outer movements), and holds his own in face of François-Xavier Poizat’s suaver fingerwork. His straightforward yet discreetly flexible reading of Ligeti’s Arc-en Ciel is simply gorgeous.

The Prokofiev Sixth sonata’s Allegro moderato zooms out from the starting gate, and benefits from Choni’s nimble handling of motoric passages such as repeated notes in the bass. Yet he waxes prosaically over the detaché chords in the Allegretto’s outer sections, in contrast to the brisk precision of Richter and Pogorelich. Because Choni frequently toys with the third movement’s basic tempo, the notion of a slow waltz does not consistently suggest itself; it’s a matter of steadiness, not speed.

Again, I suspect that studio nerves resulted in the cautious and square-toed accuracy of Choni’s finale, which hovers slightly below what other pianists consider a real Vivace. He does come to whirling life in the final pages, when the first-movement theme returns and scales fly about in every direction. How Choni will distinguish himself among hundreds of comparably capable young pianists in an uncertain yet competitive market remains to be seen.

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Recording Details:

Album Title: Dmytro Choni Piano Recital
Reference Recording: Debussy: Michelangeli (DG), Ginastera: Poizat (Piano Classics), Ligeti: Ullen (BIS), Prokofiev: Richter (Philips)

ALBERTO GINASTERA: Piano Sonata No. 1 Op. 22
GYÖRGY LIGETI: Etudes Book I: No. 5, Arc-en-ciel
SERGEI PROKOFIEV: Piano Sonata No. 6 in A Major Op. 82

  • Dmytro Choni (piano)

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