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Evgeny KISSIN (b. 1971)
The Gift of Music

A film by Christopher Nupen
Documentary about the life and rise to fame of Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin.
Includes musical excerpts by Liszt, Gluck, Beethoven, Schubert, Haydn, Paganini and Chopin. Specific works are not listed nor are individual timings provided.
BMG DVD 09026 63642 9 [104:00]

With a new mega-pianist popping out of the woodwork every fifteen minutes or so these days, there are few indeed who possess the depth and interpretive range to go along with the dazzling technique that seems to be rather commonplace amongst youthful keyboard virtuosi. Evgeny Kissin, now thirty-one years old, is the most notable exception. His is an ability that is beyond his years, and he seems to play with a perfection that hasnít been achieved since the likes of Horowitz. Couple his manifold talents with an affable, modest personality, and you have a rare artist indeed. Kissin has it all: technique to burn, a huge repertoire, a wide range of musical interests and a charm that will not quit.

In his 1999 film, Evgeny Kissin, The Gift of Music, veteran musical documentarian Christopher Nupen gives us an intimate portrait of this supremely talented young man. The film covers Kissinís early years, the appearance of his musical gifts at a very tender age, and the extraordinary relationship between Kissin and his teacher Anna Pavlovna Kantor, the only person with whom he has ever studied.

This is typical Nupen, and it is rather sad to see that he has done little to change his style in the last few decades. The narrator spills on in a monotone with an over-flattering run- on about the pianistís unusual giftedness. He then sits off camera to interview Kissin himself, whose English is quite fine, but his hesitating and monochromatic delivery makes for some pretty tedious air time. I continually got the impression that I was sitting Indian-style on the hard floor of an elementary classroom staring up at the movie screen, in the manner common for educational film viewing in my youth.

The highlight of the film is the extensive coverage of Kissinís 1997 BBC Proms concert, which broke all records, the audience having called Kissin back for the longest string of encores in the history of the famous concert series.

If one can get past the documentary part of this production and just sit back and enjoy the recital, then this is a recommendable disc. Otherwise, a handful of Kissinís readily available studio recordings will suffice quite nicely.

Kevin Sutton

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