Biography of the pianist and Chopin
CD: 24 Preludes, Sonata no 2 op. 35, Polonaise op.
53. February 2000.
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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.
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 Amazon.de,
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 Amazon.de,