Releases by Kissin are never less than fascinating: frozen
moments captured along the way of this major pianistís career.
They can be a little erratic as Kissinís flawless technique
marries itself to his growing maturity. Good to report that
this issue, then, is an almost unqualified success.
The first movement of No. 27 is brisk, a breath of fresh air
if one compares it to the recently issued de Larrocha/LPO/Solti
on Decca 478 2420 - recorded December 1977, there receiving
its first international release. Kissin is all style, his orchestra
responding with spot-on ensemble. In Kissinís case, orchestral
textures are light and frothy, his own articulation matching
them exactly. Perhaps Kissin lacks the late-Mozart repose and
serenity of Larrocha - or, for example, Brendel and the ASMF
under Brendel on Philips - but his viewpoint is refreshing in
the extreme. That he directs seems to strengthen the link between
himself and the ensemble - particularly the wind and horns.
Having seen Kissin on a number of occasions, his general demeanour
always seems rather stiff, so it would be interesting to see
him in action directing an ensemble. The cadenza (Mozartís)
is, overall, lighter than often heard, making deeper undercurrents,
when they arrive, seem all the more pregnant with meaning. The
evenness of fast passage-work will come as no surprise to Kissin
admirers, but heard here in the context of this mature interpretation,
it feels as if everything has come together.
Perhaps there is one miscalculation on Kissinís part at 9:35
in the first movement, where the final note of a treble ascent
is over-emphasised. The rarity of the occurrence makes it stand
out all the more - would it even be noticed in a live performance
or is it the repeated listenings on disc that make it obvious?
The slow movement is miraculous in achieving intimacy but encompassing
outbursts of surprising passion. The tempo of the finale is
again brisk, but there is not a hint of rushing or crushing
in the semiquaver activity. There is, however, a sense of urgency
not often encountered in this movement, a sense that runs into
the gripping cadenza.
This is not Kissinís first Mozart No. 20. He has recorded it
before with the Moscow Virtuosi under Spivakov (Russian Revelation
and Brilliant Classics). Alas, I have not heard this Russian
version; on Russian Revelation, it is coupled with Piano Concerto
No. 12, the ďlittleĒ A major. The orchestral exposition to the
present K466ís first movement is darkly shifting, almost dangerous.
Its energy is vastly different from that of, say, Barenboim/ECO
Barenboimís is in your face; Kissinís more subtle but no less
involving. The same rapport as is in evidence in K595 is everywhere
here. Woodwind lines intertwine in an illuminating way. Kissinís
way with syncopation - so vital in this movement - is at once
alive and threatening. Accents can be more forceful than one
might perhaps expect, but this fits in perfectly with the reading.
Here, the cadenza is Beethovenís. Kissin makes it into such
a dramatic fantasia that it almost seems to have links to the
extended opening solo of Beethovenís own Choral Fantasy.
The central Romanze flows beautifully, its tempo enabling its
own central outburst to have the perfect mixture of onward motion
and angst. It is the determined bite of each note of the initial
ascent of K466ís final movement that sets out Kissinís stall.
This is a fitting finale and, again, Beethovenís cadenza is
perfect in its combination of summary and culmination.
The gap between the two concertos feels too short, if one opts
to listen straight through. The end of K466 needs to register
fully before one embarks on the very different K595. The recording
throughout the disc (Producer, David Saks and Engineer, Arne
Akselberg) is clear and unfailingly involving.
In summary, I enjoyed these performances more than I did the
Kissin/LSO/Davis reading of No. 24 from 2008 (coupled with the
review). This is a most successful release.