INKPOT#43 CLASSICAL MUSIC REVIEWS: KISSIN/LEGENDARY 1984 MOSCOW CONCERT (CHOPIN PIANO CONCERTOS)
|KISSIN – The Legendary 1984 Moscow Concert
|Fryderyk (Frédéric) CHOPIN (1810-1849) Piano Concerto No.1 in E minor, Op. 11
Piano Concerto No.2 in F minor, Op. 21
Mazurka No.40, op.63, no.2
Mazurka No.49, op.68, no.4
Waltz No 14, op posth.EVGENY KISSIN piano
Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
conducted by Dimitri Kitaenko
RCA Victor Red Seal (BMG Classics) 09026-68378-2
by Johann D’Souza
I remember reading an article a long time ago stating that Lord Yehudi Menuhin played his finest Beethoven Concerto at the age of 12 and this performance was never repeated in a similar manner. However, with Kissin, he seems to thrive in a live performance. You can hear the thunderous applause immediately after the last chord and this is the same with his Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No.3 (RCA-09026-69158), when the audience jumps with shouts of “Bravo!”. I am quite convinced that even ifhe plays a Chopin nocturne marked “Lento”, he is going to get a similar response. He just has this ability to intensify the moment and draw its energy from the crowd.
Kissin was born in Moscow in 1971. He began lessons at the age of 2 and at 6 entered the Moscow Gnessian School of Music for Gifted Children. He made his performance debut at the age of 10 and gave his first recital the following year. This recording was made in 1984 when he shot to fame as a “legend”. I am quite sure that word must have reached the West in a similar manner – like how Richter came to prominence or when Van Cliburn came back after winning the First Tchaikovsky competition. The world saw a glimpse of Kissin’s genius when he performed a Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody at such a speed few could and can emulate at the 1992 Academy Awards. Now 26, Kissin has three recordings of Chopin music, the other two in an all Chopin programme at Carnegie Hall (RCA 09026-60445 and 09026-62542).
I must admit that I’m a sucker for slow movements. For both the E minor and F minor concertos, Kissin’s playing is almost a minute faster than Martha Argerich and Adam Harasiewicz (Laserlight 14-061). Argerich’s E minor concerto with Witold Rowicki is exciting and her recording with Claudio Abbado on Deutche Grammophon (Originals 449 719) is also another legendary performance. The second movement is about spring and moonlight as described by Chopin in a letter to his friend Titus. I found it hard for Kissin to bring these elements out as compared to the spontaneity of Argerich under Abbado. However, once we get to the third movement, Kissin’s superfluous technique, and his iron fortissimos all come out clear and with great intensity of inner feeling. I suppose that is one of the reasons he is able to conclude both concertos on such a high note.
For those who love Chopin, another highly recommended recording of the concerti are those of Krystian Zimmerman (DG 415 970) – his second movement of the E minor is close to 10 minutes long. It is drawn out to a satisfying point which I find very touching. His runs are superfluous and sparklingly clear. In recent times this has also been compared to Maria Jao Pires’s recording, also on DG (437 817).
Well, although there are so many Chopin Concerti discs out there, I recommend this one highly if you love a sense of passion and excitement in these works. I hate to end reviews like this because I’m constantly exploring new pianists who see things differently from the grand masters. I suppose music does transcend time, going by the evidence provided with each new interpretation, each new pianist.