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Brilliant Classics

Evgeny Kissin in Concert
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)

Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor Op. 23
St. Petersburg Academic Symphony Orchestra/Valery Gergiev
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)

Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Orchestra in C minor Op. 35
Bernard Soustrot, trumpet; St. Petersburg Chamber Orchestra/Vladimir Spivakov
Recorded 30 March1987 (Tchaikovsky) 26 December 1988 (Shostakovich)
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)

Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor Op. 11
Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor Op. 21
Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra/Dmitri Kitaenko
[Recorded ?27 March 1984]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)

La Leggierezza
Liebestraum No. 3 in A flat major
Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12 in C sharp minor
Etude díexécution transcendante No. 10 in F minor "Appassionata"
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)

Études symphoniques Op. 13
Abegg Variations Op. 1
Widmung (Transcription Franz Liszt)
Recorded 23 May 1983 and 26 February 1989
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)

Waltz No. 14 in E minor Op. Posth.
Mazurka in F minor Op. 63 No. 2
Mazurka in D flat major Op. 30 No. 3
Mazurka in B flat minor Op. 24 No. 4
Mazurka in F minor Op. 68 No. 4
Mazurka in C sharp minor Op. 50 No. 3
Fantasie in F minor Op. 49
Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor Op. 58
Recorded 23 May 1984 and 26 February 1989
Evgeny Kissin (piano)
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 92118 [4 CDs 56.28, 63.05, 65.45, 56.21]


Historic Russian Archives announces the cover of Brilliantís four CD box set. Phew, thatís some going considering that Kissin was born in 1971 and the earliest recordings here date from 1983, even given the tautology of an Historic Archive. In fact this set of discs contains fireworks, disappointment and peculiarity in almost equal measure.

The least valuable disc is the first which gives us a gestural and external Tchaikovsky No 1 with Gergiev at his least interesting and a ridiculous Shostakovich No 1, about which Iím afraid itís best not to dwell, so absurdly slow is the opening piano statement in a recording which is more pantomime than performance. The second disc continues the concerto theme with recordings of what Brilliant purports to be the famous 27 March 1984 Chopin Concertos concert with Kitaenko conducting the Moscow Philharmonic. It sounded wrong to me, horn fluffs, muffled sound, a distinctly different opening tempo for the Allegro maestoso of the E minor etc. I then listened to this disc side by side with the RCA recording and my doubts were confirmed. It is a live concert, true, but itís not the one as advertised and perhaps Brilliant could let us know where they obtained the tapes (they cite Pipeline Music USA).

The rest is better. His Études Symphoniques though sometimes far too forthright and lacking discretion still heralds the promise Ė announces the established promise I should say Ė of potentially a major Schumann player. For me, as yet, Kissin is a provisional player, what Beecham in another context described as a promissory note, and though much here is astonishing there are moments too of unease. Churlish though to denigrate the Liszt and Schumann disc which is the highlight of the set. One weakness of his earlier self is still evident today and thatís his harsh and hard tone (listen to Waldesrauschen) though Widmung atones with its excitement and mastery. The final disc brings more Chopin in repertoire that has been rerecorded. The Sonata is not as comprehensively successful as it has become though even in 1984 his Fantasie bore the general outlines of the later traversals. Itís necessary to remind oneself, for all the strictures, that when he recorded it he was eleven years of age. The playing is of course staggering for a child, as were the even runs in the Chopin concertos and the animating left hand accents there and elsewhere.

Until the provenance of the Chopin Concerto disc is established I would exercise caution with this box, even at its tempting price, as Kissinís early Russian recordings have been pretty much supplanted by his RCA discs. His recent London performances have shown alarming inconsistencies in his playing and the circus that surrounds him can do little to inspire confidence. This box faithfully mirrors those sometimes perverse idiosyncrasies.

Jonathan Woolf



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