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Evgeny Kissin
Biography of the pianist and Chopin CD
: 24 Preludes, Sonata no 2 op. 35, Polonaise op. 53. February 2000. Get the CD from,,,,

Article added in June 2000

Evgeny Kissin was born in Moscow in 1971. His mother was a pianist, his father an engineer who abandoned his career when the family moved to the West in 1992. He has an elder sister. Kissin began playing the piano by ear at the age of two(!). At six, he entered Moscow Gnessin School of Music for Gifted Children where he studied with Anna Pavlovna Kantor. He came to international attention in 1984 when, at the age of 12, he performed the two Chopin piano concertos in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory with the Moscow State Philharmonic under the direction of Dmitri Kitaenko. In 1987, he made his West European debut at the Berlin Festival. His performance of Tchaikovsky's 1st Piano Concerto with Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic was a triumph. His subsequent European tour with the Moscow Virtuosi and Vladimir Spivakov was sold out. In 1990, he gave his debut in the USA, with a the two Chopin concertos with the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Zubin Metha. Ten days later, he shone in the debut recital to open Carnegie Hall's centenary season. In 1995, he became the youngest-ever Musical America Instrumentalist of the Year. In 1997, he received the prestigious Triumph Award for Excellence for his contribution to Russia's Culture. In 1997, he was the first pianist to give a solo recital at the BBC Proms. Kissin only plays 60 concerts a year. Therefore, each concert is an event for him - and for the public, since all are sold out. In an interview, Kissin said that he feels closest to pianist Yakov Flier (1912-1978): He may not be one of the greatest musicians, but Kissin listens to his recordings and feels close to him. Kissin is not only an outstanding performer and improviser, but also a composer. He has inspired many to play the piano.
Several years ago, Anna Kantor moved in to live with Evgeny, his sister and parents.
Chopin CD
As Harris Goldsmith explains in the CDs booklet, the Twenty-Four Preludes op. 28 were composed between 1836 and 1839, the B-Flat Minor Sonata op. 35 in 1839 and the A-Flat Polonaise op. 53 in 1842. The three works represent Chopin's genius at its zenith. The Preludes pay tribute to Johann Sebastian Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. Chopin was an admirer of the German composer and deeply immersed in the music of Bach when he composed the Preludes. He considered Bach "the best school; no one will ever create a better... Without Bach, you cannot have freedom in your fingers nor a clear or beautiful tone." Chopin's preludes are "rather a collection of tone poems" than preludes, wrote the noted English musicologist Arthur Hedley. They were written as a cycle but the individual components are hugely diverse and bear no motivic connections to one another.
The Sonata no. 2 op. 35 has a first dramatic movement, a demonic scherzo, the famous "funeral march" and a presto finale. Goldsmith calls the melodic, harmonic and motivic edifice "almost Beethovenian in their stringent mastery". Chopin's mazurkas and polonaises are the expression of his "fierce pride and nationalism". Although he had a French father and lived in Paris from 1831, he never stopped loving his native Poland. The Polonaise op. 53 is one of the most popular denizens in all classical music. Technical brilliance is needed to perform it.
Evgeny Kissin is at ease with the early master of Romantic music inspired by national idioms. Chopin's compositions have, despite heroic moments, an introspective quality and offer space for improvisation, which Kissin knows to use best. The Russian pianist shines in the quieter parts as well as in the virtuoso and heroic ones. A must.


Evgeny Kissin: Chopin: The Four Ballades, Berceuse, Barcarolle, Scherzo No. 4. RCA, 1999. Get the CD from,,,

Evgeny Kissin and the Moscow Virtuosi under the direction of Vladimir Spivakow: Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 12 & 20, Rondo K. 382. RCA, 1992. Get the CD from,,,