Saturday, March 14, 2009

Evgeny Kissin

Evgeny Kissin, piano
Thursday, March 12, 8:30pm
Davies Symphony Hall

PROKOFIEV: 3 pieces from Romeo and Juliet, Op. 75
PROKOFIEV: Sonata No. 8 in B-flat Major
CHOPIN: Polonaise-Fantasie in A-flat Major, Op. 61
CHOPIN: 3 Mazurkas (Op. 30, No. 4; Op. 41, No. 4; Op. 59, No. 1)
CHOPIN: Etudes, Op. 10, Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 12 & Op. 25, Nos. 5, 6, 11

Encores (via Joshua Kosman)
Chopin: Nocturne in D-Flat, Op.27, No. 2
Prokofiev: "Suggestion Diabolique" from Four Pieces, Op. 4, No. 4

Mr. Kissin seems like an odd fellow. He walked on stage as if he didn't know or care where he was. He bowed slowly to the audience, sat down & immediately started to play, without preparation. His playing, though, made me feel completely secure. He played the Romeo & Juliet extracts with a colorful variety of tone colors. The piece was short, but he packed them with a tremendous range of moods. I felt like I'd already gotten half my money's worth.

The Prokofiev Sonata was the most weighty part of the program. The 1st movement was especially ruminative. At times it seemed like neither Prokofiev nor Kissin knew what was going to come next. The flashy last movement got cheers from the audience. I found his playing so enjoyable that during the intermission I stayed by my seat & kept thinking, "OK, Mr. Kissin, I'm ready for my Chopin now!"

Mr. Kissin is not a gushy, heart-on-the-sleeve performer. He may not even make much of an emotional connection with his audience. But he is a brilliant pianist. His sound is lush & velvety. He never makes the piano sound like a percussion instrument. In fact, somehow he makes me think that he can actually sustain notes, even though this is impossible on the piano. I was continually startled by how much control he had, even in very technical passages. For instance, in Etude No. 1 he could shade the dynamic levels of the long runs up & down the keyboard.

Davies Hall was nearly full. I had expected to see no empty seats, but there were a few gaps. The audience gave Mr. Kissin a loud standing ovation. He smiled but also seemed strangely detached. We tried to get a 3rd encore out of him but failed.

No comments: