This is the second of Brilliant's box sets devoted to Russian recordings from Evgeny Kissin. Labeled as early, these live concert performances from 1984 to 1990 carry us from the day after Kissin turned 13 (Mozart Cto. #12 K. 414) to age 18 (Mozart Cto. #20, K. 466), with most readings clustering in the range of 1985-89. Russians were well aware of the marvel in their midst; the pianist's American breakthrough occurred in 1990 when he debuted at Carnegie Hall's centennial season. No one since Richter, debuting almost thirty years before, had made such a heady entry, and Richter was past fifty when he came here (briefly, since he loathed American capitalism and the pace of life in our big cities).
Recorded live, this Chopin program featuring three Impromptus, four Polonaises, and the Fantasie-Impromptu has all the electricity of a performance. Kissin, who captivated the world two decades ago as a sensational prodigy, is today a spectacular pianist and compelling personality. His virtuosity is by now taken for granted, but perhaps most extraordinary is his uncanny ability to change mood and expression instantaneously and to pace and build up climaxes. This is a matter not only of technique but of emotional concentration and involvement, yet it would be impossible without his mastery of touch, color, and nuance. Kissin's tone is beautiful: he can make the piano sing in long, sustained lines and his runs are brilliant and fleet but perfectly clear.
The other major orchestral release here features the Richard Strauss recordings conducted for Sony Classical by Zubin Mehta.
Sony Classical in cooperation with Paramax Films and Dolby releases the world premiere of the first classical concert on video mixed in the new sound technology of Dolby Atmos®. Captured by Paramax Films in the orchestra’s home city of Tel Aviv in July 2015, Khatia Buniatishvili and Zubin Mehta unite in a concert with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra at its resident venue of Charles Bronfman Auditorium. Available on DVD and Blu-ray, last-named with Dolby Atmos technology, the legendary conductor and the 2016 ECHO Klassik Award winning pianist showcase a performance of the piano’s most famous orchestral repertoire; Beethoven’s infectious and virtuosic Piano Concerto No. 1. and Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with its waves of sound and grandiose third movement. Last concerto proven to be “a superb showpiece for Buniatishvili, whose technical prowess, theatrical manner and innate glamour mark her out as a natural Liszt interpreter” writes the Guardian.
Here are sets of Pictures to suit almost every personal art gallery. The newest issue (though not the most recently recorded—it has a 1979 analogue source) is the least memorable. The orchestral playing is excellent and certain portrayals are striking, the ”Ballet of Unhatched Chicks”, for instance and ”Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle”, while the closing sequence is strongly projected.
The young Kissin was able to work wonders in Prokofiev–above all the Sixth Sonata (Kissin in Tokyo - Yevgeny Kissin). Regrettably, the mature Kissin recently delivered highly disappointing live performances of the Second and Third Concertos (Prokofiev: Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 3), indeed, regardless of the predictable rave in the British press. This 1994 recording of the First and Third Concertos is unquestionably very good, especially the youthful First, although competition is very strong–from Graffman/Szell (Prokofiev: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 3) and Argerich/Dutoit (Prokofiev: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 3 / Bartok: Piano Concerto No. 3) in this coupling, and from the complete sets by Berman/Gutierrez/Järvi, Toradze/Gergiev and Krainev/Kitaenko.