Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491 (1786)
[30:09] Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54 (1841) [32:08]
Yevgeny Kissin (piano) London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Colin Davis rec. Barbican Hall, London, September 2006
EMI CLASSICS 3828792 [62:19]
Estimable artists both, a great orchestra - but this is a superfluous
release, save perhaps as a memento of the two concerts from
which the performances come.
The Mozart performance is surprisingly weak. We might have expected
Kissin to play the solo part with a "Russian" sound
- not coarse, but pumping up the themes a dynamic or so above
the score indications, setting them in sharp relief against
the accompaniments. And in the louder passages - for example,
the variation at 2:32 of the finale - he doesn't disappoint,
with scales and turns that ripple fluently and a ringing left
hand in forte. But Kissin's pallid tone at piano
sounds dull and lacking in impulse - in such passages, he simply
doesn't give us a reason to listen to him. Davis's characteristic
synthesis of ruggedness and sensitivity is always welcome in
this repertoire, but he seems to have caught his soloist's disease:
shiny flutes and oboes add needed variety to the texture, but
clarinets and bassoons are oddly subdued. And the first movement's
hearty afterbeats have, by 6:03, become merely stolid. You'd
never know, from the pale patches here, how dramatic a score
One might be tempted to blame the dullness on the dry, supposedly unfavorable
acoustic of the Barbican - though I've never found it objectionable
when attending concerts there - were it not that the Schumann,
recorded a few days later, finds everyone concerned in better
form. Kissin puts some weight and thrust back into his tone
without sacrificing finesse, injecting imaginative bits of rubato
- which may take some getting used to - as in the ruminative
inflection at 9:51 of the first movement, layering sequences
of arpeggios so that the underlying chord progressions are comprehensible.
In the central Intermezzo, unfortunately, the playing
again turns bloodless. Sir Colin offers forthright, strongly
profiled support - the strings are defined with a nice edge,
though the important principal clarinet remains unduly reticent.
For what it's worth, the sound isn't bad, though a bit boomy and congested.
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