Los Angeles Music Review: EVGENY KISSIN IN RECITAL (Walt Disney Concert Hall)

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by Daniel S. G. Wood on March 28, 2014

in Theater-Los Angeles


If you haven’t heard, Evgeny Kissin is positively the best pianist alive. In the sense of the grand pianistic tradition that some say died with likes of Arrau, Cliburn, and Rubinstein, Kissin is a living legend who, basically since infancy, has been caretaker to the “Golden Age” of the piano. Though his hair isn’t the spectacle it once was, Monday night’s recital at Disney Concert Hall certainly was: Kissin played Schubert’s op. 53 Sonata in D Major and Scriabin op. 19, along with selections from the latter’s op. 8 Etudes.

Evgeny KissinIn an era of classical music depression, Kissin still sells out concert halls. Of course he did not disappoint: Schubert’s pastoral and folksy sonata was fantastic—though presented a little big and heavy for Schubert—and the all-Scriabin second half was like a forty minute Tingler massage. Kissin navigated Scriabin’s inner voices deftly while keeping the main gorgeousness of the tunes afloat, displayed his perfect Russian piano technique in the etudes as well. The last of the etudes, the D-Sharp Minor (a piece Horowitz made famous) was concert piano gothic at its most dramatic.

Pianist Evgeny KissinThe audience was hysteric in its plea for encores, which Kissin obliged. First he played a plaintive Bach transcription, proving that there really is something as a pianist’s pianist, after which he delivered Scriabin’s other famous Etude, Op. 42, No. 5. The speed and fluency of his octaves in Chopin’s famous “Heroic” Polonaise was downright shocking (“Drey-schocking” even, to any piano geeks out there). It was an uncanny experience, but the entire audience seemingly held its breath when he began the ostinato. It is hard to imagine someone as perfectly tailored to the concert pianist idiom as Kissin but—thanks to the Philharmonic for bringing him to Los Angeles—I can vouch that he is for real.

photos courtesy of LA Phil

Evgeny Kissin in Recital
LA Phil’s Colburn Celebrity Recitals
Walt Disney Concert Hall
111 South Grand Ave.
played on Monday March 24, 2014
for future events, call 323.850.2000 or visit www.laphil.com

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