Reviews

 

Pianowereld Magazine, review of the Semifinals of the Queen Elisabeth International Piano Competition of Belgium, 2016

“When I heard that no fewer than 12 of the 24 semifinalists in the Queen Elizabeth Competition (Koningin Elisabethwedstrijd) had chosen Mozart’s 21st Concerto, I uttered a very deep sigh. I therefore would have thought it inconceivable to name this very piece as the competition’s highlight so far – especially the indescribably unique version brought by Ukrainian Denis Zhdanov. Other superlatives would merely sound cliché at this point, so I’ll refrain from using them, but I would urge one to listen only to the two cadences (in the first and third part), written by Zhdanov himself, and I’m sure one is sold. Here at last is an artist capable of actually doing something musically worthwhile with that second ‘Elvira Madigan’-part, which was even made to sound somewhat dark. In passing he furthermore managed to singlehandedly lift the orchestra – which he kept eye and ear on every single second – onto an artistically higher plateau. I re-urge one to listen and listen again. Somewhat over-confidently and euphorically perhaps, I would not hesitate to call Zhdanov’s the best performance of this concerto I’ve ever heard (or running a very close second to Uchida’s …).”                                      

Erik Vertriest

Read the full review (in Dutch)


 

Canvas.be, review of the Semifinals of the Queen Elisabeth International Piano Competition of Belgium, 2016

“…Prize or no prize in a competition, ultimately it’s all about the music, I think. Take, for example Denis Zhdanov. He played a beautiful, unusual interpretation of the 21st piano Concerto by Mozart. Many had the ‘original’ idea to write their own cadenza, but most of competitors sounded as a real cliché. Also not everyone had a courage to go beyond that style, as did Zhdanov. Moreover, he was a pianist, who encouraged the orchestra throughout the piece, and didn’t lose a single minute out of sight; something we have not very often heard during the competition. So I was very disappointed when Arie Van Lysebeth skipped his name during the announcement of finalists.”
“…The only figure that I miss in the final is Denis Zhdanov. Starting with the first round he surprised me, his interpretation of the compulsory work I find the best, and I’ve enjoyed his Mozart Concerto.”

Read the full review (in Dutch)


 

“El Mundo”, review of the Finals of the Jaen International Piano Competition, Spain 2016

“Denis Zhdanov presented the controversy of the evening. His interpretation of the Schumann’s Concerto Op. 54 did not acquire enough of the needed support and reflection from the orchestra, which, respectfully, did not please the fundamental goals of the pianist, who is best gifted in technique among the finalists, and is the possessor of the most refined balance between musicality, technique and aesthetics: this was noticed by the public, which awarded him with the prize. He also won the Contemporary Music Award, with his interpretation of the attractive compulsory piece “Anamorfosis”, Op.152 by Manuel Seco de Arpe, a composer from Madrid. Zhdanov’s performance of this work was a true role model. Nevertheless, the fate was not propitious to him because of the hidden currents among jury members, thanks to which such an event can obtain or lose its prestige. The promising future of this pianist will necessarily dissolve all the doubts in his favor.”

JOSÉ ANTONIO CANTÓN

Read the full review (in Spanish)


“ForumClasico”, review of the Semifinals of the Jaen International Piano Competition, Spain 2016

His communicative exchange with the audience and pianistic expression was at a level of such perfection, comparable with the best traditions of the Moscow Conservatory (especially astonishing in pianissimo). He presented the Agosti’s virtuoso transcription of the “Firebird” in a breathtakingly brilliant way, while the devastating and alarming Op.116 by Brahms (epochal Intermezzi), was beautifully recited by his hands. It was clear that the jackpot this year would be written in Cyrillic.

Javier Extremera

Read the full review (in Spanish)