Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"

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IcedNote
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Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"

Post by IcedNote » Fri Jul 07, 2017 12:01 pm

https://www.economist.com/news/books-an ... eny-kissin
EVGENY KISSIN has written an autobiography. He has also married a childhood friend and is about to release his first recording for a decade. A European tour will fill the coming months. “I want people to know who I am,” he told a BBC interviewer last month. That remark was about reciting his own poetry in Yiddish, but it implied something more general: the image of the wild-haired, baby-faced Wunderkind who had to be defended from hordes of female fans no longer applies. Mr Kissin is now an imposing 45-year-old who needs no help in fighting his professional corner, or in publicly championing the Israeli state whose citizenship he recently accepted, in addition to the British one he got thanks to a family connection in 2002.

Born to a Russian-Jewish family in Moscow (his father was an aerospace engineer and his mother a piano teacher), Mr Kissin was a sickly child whose phenomenal musical gift was obvious from the start: aged 11 months, he suddenly sang the theme from the Bach fugue that his elder sister was studying. At two he was reproducing all the music he heard around him on the piano under which he had to sleep as the family flat was so small. At six he was taken to the celebrated Gnessin school and put under the tutelage of Anna Kantor. Her first impression was that “he could play everything, but didn’t know anything”. Ms Kantor moved in with the family, and has been his only tutor. Other children mocked his Jewishness—it was decided to replace his father’s surname, Otman, with his mother’s more Russian-sounding Kissin—but he was cocooned by adoration. His family gladly sacrificed everything on the altar of his genius.

That genius was publicly hailed with his solo debut, aged 12, at the Moscow Conservatory. He sustained the filigree beauty of Chopin’s two piano concertos with cool authority; listening to a blind recording, some judged the pianist to be a performer at the peak of his powers. With no need to prove himself further by winning competitions, Mr Kissin went on discreetly refining his art in Moscow before making his west European debut at 16, and his explosive American debut at Carnegie Hall in New York just ten days before his 19th birthday.

The recording of that event amply demonstrates why the audience response was so ecstatic, and why so many critics were impelled to speak of him as the new Vladimir Horowitz, Arthur Rubinstein or Sviatoslav Richter. There were moments when Schumann’s “Symphonic Etudes” went too fast for their own good, but the alternating fire and lyrical tenderness of the “Abegg Variations”, also by Schumann, contrasted with the playful crispness of Mr Kissin’s attack in Prokofiev’s “Sonata No. 6”. To Liszt’s towering “Rhapsodie Espagnole” he brought a high-octane virtuosity. After a charmingly understated Chopin “Waltz”, the coup de grace among the encores was a notorious Prokofiev finger-twister, “Etude in C minor, Opus 2 No. 3”, which went like the wind. Like everything else in the programme, it was technically flawless. “All one could do was laugh,” one professional pianist in the audience commented ruefully afterwards.

Mr Kissin’s trajectory was stellar, and soon he was playing to packed houses all over the world, as he still does. In 1997 he gave the first solo piano recital at the BBC Proms, breaking its record for the size of the audience (over 6,000) and the number of encores played (seven). But there was no hint of the circus in his appearances. His delight in his own technical prowess was evident, but, as his repertoire broadened and his discography lengthened, the refinement of his artistry intensified. Whether in Liszt, Beethoven, Schubert, Scriabin or his beloved Chopin, he could be depended upon to find new things to say, and with magisterial power.

Some critics, however, began castigating his pianism as mere heartless dazzle. And as he moved into his 30s, Mr Kissin’s ego seemed in overdrive, leading to inappropriately gladiatorial performances of Schubert and Schumann. He himself admitted that his recording of Beethoven’s “Moonlight” sonata only scratched the surface of that serene work.

In his 40s, however, Mr Kissin has made an aesthetic breakthrough, with performances of Liszt tone-poems and late Beethoven sonatas which are revelatory in their sweep and authority. No matter how big or complex a work, he now has an unerring mastery both of the fine detail and the architecture. Beethoven’s 32 “Variations in C minor” is a ferociously condensed work, presenting a unique aesthetic challenge. Mr Kissin turns each variation into a small explosion of rage, grotesquery or pathos, and moves repeatedly from a smoulder to a blaze and back again, with magical results. This will be one of the Beethoven works on the double-CD of live recordings which Deutsche Grammophon will release in August.

But Mr Kissin is still a pliant spirit. To watch him reverentially drinking in performances by his heroes, Grigory Sokolov and Martha Argerich, at the Verbier summer festival where he frequently performs with his Russian-virtuoso friends, is to realise that he is not above learning lessons. And he is a born entertainer, up for any post-recital fun that’s going and able to deliver ragtime with the best of them; the blind American jazz pianist Art Tatum is another of his heroes.

In interviews he has always been strikingly gauche, leaving long silences before giving lapidary answers. His autobiography, “Memoirs and Reflections”, is an eccentric work with a similarly jerky momentum, but its revealing leitmotif is embodied in the extraordinary epitaph which he wrote for himself when still a young boy: “When I die, bury me in the region around Moscow, in the forest, and let the stone, under which my remains will lie, be barely visible in the grass, and it should [read]…HERE LIES EVGENY KISSIN, SON OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE, A SERVANT OF MUSIC.” One of the world’s greatest living musicians he may be, but Mr Kissin sees himself as a child of history.
-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

maestrob
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Re: Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"

Post by maestrob » Fri Jul 07, 2017 1:49 pm

Thanks for that, Garrett! I've been wondering what has happened to Kissen and why there have been no recent recordings. Glad to know he admires Sokolov: he's one of my favorite pianists, and a genius at Beethoven, which Kissen needs to (by his own admission) study further. I have his debut performances of the Chopin concerti, and although not quite as mature as the article suggests, they are an amazing feat for an 11-year-old pianist.

John F
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Re: Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"

Post by John F » Sat Jul 08, 2017 6:43 am

[quote-"IcedNote"]Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"[/quote]
Who said that? It's in quotation marks but not in the article you posted. And of course it's highly debatable, to say the least.
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lennygoran
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Re: Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"

Post by lennygoran » Sat Jul 08, 2017 7:14 am

John F wrote:
Sat Jul 08, 2017 6:43 am
[quote-"IcedNote"]Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"
Who said that? It's in quotation marks but not in the article you posted. And of course it's highly debatable, to say the least.
[/quote]

How surprising that the article doesn't list who actually wrote it-I can't remember ever seeing anything like that in a magazine. Regards, Len

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John F
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Re: Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"

Post by John F » Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:49 am

OK, now I see it - thanks. The title was left off the quoted article. There are other pianists still active today who have been "acclaimed" at least as much, Maurizio Pollini and Martha Argerich among them. And how does one measure the volume, quantity, or whatever of acclaim, anyway? Kissin is certainly one of the finest pianists around, leave it at that.
John Francis

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Re: Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"

Post by jserraglio » Sat Jul 08, 2017 10:13 am

Yuja Wang is also highly acclaimed today, whatever that's worth. But from what Ive heard on YT, I like her playing a lot.


Belle
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Re: Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"

Post by Belle » Sat Jul 08, 2017 6:12 pm

John F wrote:
Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:49 am
OK, now I see it - thanks. The title was left off the quoted article. There are other pianists still active today who have been "acclaimed" at least as much, Maurizio Pollini and Martha Argerich among them. And how does one measure the volume, quantity, or whatever of acclaim, anyway? Kissin is certainly one of the finest pianists around, leave it at that.
I think the ranking would be correct in terms of those pianists under 70, but even then many of them (like Kovacevich) have lost their mojo. Yes, Kissin does need to work on Beethoven to justify his top position, but I've seen him in Vienna and he's remarkable. He'd be my top pick for the younger generation, with Trifonov and Wang in second and third places. For now, at least.

barney
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Re: Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"

Post by barney » Sat Jul 08, 2017 10:24 pm

I'm afraid you're all simply wrong, wrong, WRONG.
I consulted the Net to find candidates I might have forgotten and found the list of top 10 pianists here: http://www.ranker.com/list/famous-male- ... /reference
Top: Elton John, followed by Paul McCartney, Jamie Foxx!!!!, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Pope Benedict!!!!
As some of you seem to regard Kissin or Wang as better pianists than Foxx or Pope Benedict I will not be able to take seriously anything you say henceforth.

Belle
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Re: Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"

Post by Belle » Sun Jul 09, 2017 3:52 am

Well, you've forgotten our very own Cardinal George Pell who is, er, playing for time!! That's a skill.

Holden Fourth
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Re: Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"

Post by Holden Fourth » Sun Jul 09, 2017 4:35 am

I bought the Carnegie Hall recital CDs and was very impressed to the point where I would wait for a new Kissin CD to be released. I was disappointed. Recordings, made in the studio while technically great weren't that musical. Then I saw him live on Youtube and realised that this is a pianist who needs an audience. The upcoming DG twofer is live so I will be interested in how they come out.

John F
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Re: Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"

Post by John F » Sun Jul 09, 2017 5:23 am

Belle wrote:
Sat Jul 08, 2017 6:12 pm
I've seen him in Vienna and he's remarkable.
Remarkable, yes. The most acclaimed classical pianist in the world - even when you limit it to those still alive :) - no way.
John Francis

maestrob
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Re: Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"

Post by maestrob » Sun Jul 09, 2017 12:28 pm

Holden Fourth wrote:
Sun Jul 09, 2017 4:35 am
I bought the Carnegie Hall recital CDs and was very impressed to the point where I would wait for a new Kissin CD to be released. I was disappointed. Recordings, made in the studio while technically great weren't that musical. Then I saw him live on Youtube and realised that this is a pianist who needs an audience. The upcoming DG twofer is live so I will be interested in how they come out.
I'm with you on this. The Carnegie Hall recital is excellent, but his subsequent studio discs were disappointing to me too, especially his Moussorgsky. We'll see what happens with the DGG twofer. I have some of his earlier Russian discs, and they're quite good. Just speculating, but the loss of a teacher (whether through distance or death) can affect an artist profoundly: I wonder if that's what happened to Kissin?

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Re: Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"

Post by karlhenning » Sun Jul 09, 2017 12:54 pm

First (and others largely got here first), it is totes awesome that we have decided who The World’s Most Acclaimed Pianist is! Thank you, The Economist! And while the Medium Formerly Known as Print adjusts to its new online home, the sloppiness extends to a failure to list the name of the author of that article. So maybe it’s just a puff piece from the artist’s publicity agent.

Cheers,
~k.
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Belle
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Re: Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"

Post by Belle » Sun Jul 09, 2017 1:08 pm

The item in "The Economist" says Kissin is the world's most "acclaimed"; it didn't say he was the "best". There's a discernible difference between these two words.

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Re: Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"

Post by karlhenning » Sun Jul 09, 2017 1:34 pm

Belle wrote:
Sun Jul 09, 2017 1:08 pm
The item in "The Economist" says Kissin is the world's most "acclaimed"; it didn't say he was the "best". There's a discernible difference between these two words.
Sure. A ridiculous claim in either case.

Cheers,
~k.
Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston, Massachusetts
http://members.tripod.com/~Karl_P_Henning/
http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
Published by Lux Nova Press
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John F
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Re: Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"

Post by John F » Sun Jul 09, 2017 2:17 pm

The Economist is a serious mag and doesn't print puff pieces by publicists. But cultural reporting is not its strong suit, and commissioning this piece at all is rather odd.
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Re: Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Jul 09, 2017 5:45 pm

John F wrote:
Sun Jul 09, 2017 2:17 pm
The Economist is a serious mag and doesn't print puff pieces by publicists. But cultural reporting is not its strong suit, and commissioning this piece at all is rather odd.
Evidently, since both the author and the editor if any allowed "Sonata No. 6" with quotation marks to pass.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Belle
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Re: Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"

Post by Belle » Sun Jul 09, 2017 9:45 pm

Look at Ms Wang as an adolescent!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85IkZ0SvEyw

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Re: Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"

Post by jserraglio » Mon Jul 10, 2017 3:08 am

25 discs. $50-60 @ Berkshire Record Outlet or Amazon

Image

Belle
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Re: Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"

Post by Belle » Mon Jul 10, 2017 3:40 am

He's a very impressive artist and this looks very tempting and worth having!! Thanks for telling about it.

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Re: Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"

Post by barney » Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:37 am

Belle wrote:
Sun Jul 09, 2017 3:52 am
Well, you've forgotten our very own Cardinal George Pell who is, er, playing for time!! That's a skill.
Boom, boom! As Basil Brush would say. Excellent, Belle!

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Re: Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"

Post by lennygoran » Mon Jul 10, 2017 7:11 am

barney wrote:
Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:37 am
Belle wrote:
Sun Jul 09, 2017 3:52 am
Well, you've forgotten our very own Cardinal George Pell who is, er, playing for time!! That's a skill.
Boom, boom! As Basil Brush would say. Excellent, Belle!
Barney, Belle, you say he's playing for time-should he also be praying for time? Regards, Len [fleeing]

barney
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Re: Kissin is "world's most acclaimed classical pianist"

Post by barney » Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:04 am

lennygoran wrote:
Mon Jul 10, 2017 7:11 am
barney wrote:
Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:37 am
Belle wrote:
Sun Jul 09, 2017 3:52 am
Well, you've forgotten our very own Cardinal George Pell who is, er, playing for time!! That's a skill.
Boom, boom! As Basil Brush would say. Excellent, Belle!
Barney, Belle, you say he's playing for time-should he also be praying for time? Regards, Len [fleeing]
Sorry Lenny, just caught up with this. Very good, I like it. But, more seriously, if I were him, I would probably want it settled and done.

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