Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nobody's Kid Anymore

Evgeny Kissin plays Chopin: The Verbier Festival Recital
RCA Red Seal
82876-68668-2, 2007

Four Polonaises Op. 26 1 & 2; Op. 40, No. 2; Op. 53
Impromptus Op. 29, 36 & 51
Fantaisie-Impromptu Op. 66

Evgeny Kissin arrived on the classical music scene in 1984 when, at the age of 13, he recorded both Chopin piano concertos with the Moscow Philharmonic. In steps from there he took the music world by storm, playing in Berlin with Herbert von Karajan in 1988 and making his way to America in 1990. No serious devotee of the piano can be unaware of him today.

There was a tendency to dismiss him at the beginning because of his youth, but in very little time he established himself as a serious and gifted artist of the highest order. His unquestionable technical prowess places the entirety of the piano repertoire at his command, and he has demonstrated a deep emotional sensitivity in his interpretations. He is especially at home with Rachmaninov and Chopin, and has recorded much of their piano music.

This present release is a live recording from the Verbier Festival in Switzerland in 2006, and features an all-Chopin recital: four Polonaises, three Impromptus and the Fantaisie-Impromptu. The varied lightness of the Impromptus contrasts nicely with the weight of the Polonaises, making for a lovely cross-section of Chopin's writing. The sound is excellent (especially for a live recording, but regardless), and Kissin's control of color and touch are absolute; he gives us a distinctive and emotional rendering of these works. If there was a time when Kissin needed to assert his technical skills, he has matured far beyond that place, seeking now only to illuminate the score. Whatever is required in that endeavor comes readily to hand, and along with Chopin's fireworks he pulls off the very sentimental parts of this music in respectful and engaging fashion.



schmonz said...

He's got a disc with a certain Medtner piece on it (okay, and some other stuff too). Highly recommended and would love to hear your take.

wunelle said...

I'll add it to my must-acquire list!