Evgeny Kissin

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Does anyone ever listen to Evgeny Kissin? He is absolutely wonderful. He started piano at age 2 and was even improvising at that age. He's cute too hehe, too bad he's 40, 22 years older than me. But I hear him playing Chopin's music, and he plays it better than anyone. He inspired me to take on a bunch of Chopin's Preludes. His recordings are all over, he can play anyone's pieces.

Or, has anyone seen him perform? I might buy tickets to his Boston recital. I'd probably faint haha. Another amazing concert performer is Ignat Solzhenitsyn. I saw him with the Cape Symphony orchestra and he looked as if he was one with the piano, like there was no seperation between the two.

-- Zeldah Hanson (slw@cape.com), July 23, 2001


oops, I made a mistake, Evengy is 31 haha. Not 41. =0/ not too old...mmmmm

-- Zelda Hanson (slw@cape.com), July 23, 2001.

Also, if anyone is from Cape Cod Massachusetts, let me know. I don't know ANY pianists!!! It's absolutely horrible. I feel so lonely.

-- Zeldah Hanson (slw@cape.com), July 23, 2001.

I have only heard his interpretation of Chopin's Walz Op.64 #2, which I thought was good, but not the best that I've heard. Evgeny shocked the world when he played Chopin's 2 piano concertos - nos.1 and 2 - at age 12 in Moscow, which is really awesome.

I haven't heard him play enough to be able to pass judgement, though. You should consider listening to Nikolai Lugansky, Andras Schiff and Helene Gimaud. They're just some of today's young pianists that are really good. Oh yes, and Bernd Glemser is impressive too, especially his RACHMANINOFF Piano Concerto #2 interpretation. Then there are the 'GREATS' (of the 20th C) like Horowitz, Rubinstein, Cortot, Kempff, Backhaus, Gould, Rachmaninoff....there are too many to mention actually. Just start exploring and you'll discover a lot quite quickly! Hope this helps.. BTW I am also 17 and love piano like you do. ;-)

Vipercat :-)

-- Vipercat (noname_poster@yahoo.com), July 23, 2001.

Thanks, I'll check out those musicians also. I do explore, haha, trust me. Piano is all I do when I'm not at my job. =0) Even while I'm at my job I study sites about piano, practicing, pianists, and all that. How long have you been playing???

-- Zeldah Hanson (slw@cape.com), July 23, 2001.

I've been playing for almost 7 years. The best experience I've ever had musically was playing Mozart's Piano Concerto no.20 in D minor with the symphony orchestra. Now THAT was wonderful. I wish I could do that again! How about you? Who are your favourite composers?

-- Vipercat (noname_poster@yahoo.com), July 24, 2001.

You know, it's a great idea to listen to recordings made by pianists who were born before or around 1900. While the young pianists of today can play a lot of notes, none of them really understands what 19th century music was about. You will do yourself a disservice if you train your ears by listening to Kissin & Company - you will automatically use the expressive devices that they use, and you will pick up their bad habits. Instead, if you want to listen to Chopin records (always a risky proposition since there are so few really good ones), listen to Cortot, Novaes, Friedman, Lhevinne, Rachmaninov, Hoffman. They knew how to listen to their playing, and they knew something about the style of the music - two things that Kissin and the rest of today's pianists have not yet achieved.

Please understand that if you like to listen to Kissin, Grimaud (not too good at all) and the rest, there's nothing wrong with getting pleasure anywhere you can find it. But please do not use them as models. Better to make your own mistakes than to copy theirs.

-- Alan (NoName_Poster@yahoo.com), July 24, 2001.

Well do you think you have what it takes to surpass Evgeny? I mean, do you have the style of the pianists back then? Thanks for the sugestions on other pianists, but where could I find their recordings?

In response to Viper Cat, my favorite composer of all is Franz Liszt. I haven't attempted any of his works yet. I don't think I'll dare for awhile. Althought I do think I am ready for "Love dream; liebestraume No 3. "

I am fascinated with Beethoven and his life also. I love watching that movie about him, Immortal Beloved.

Who are your faves?

-- Zeldah Hanson (slw@cape.com), July 25, 2001.

Look for CDs of old time pianists at Tower Records, or do a search online using any of their names.

I think we need to remember that the people who are famous performers today are not necessarily the best at what they do. What they have going for them is that they are often the most marketable: they have biographies that make them attractive to the buying public (played all Beethoven sonatas at the age of 2, youngest ever to win blah blah competition, they are good looking) and they are good at playing very fast and very loud. Practically everything you read about them is geared to selling you something - a concert ticket or a CD.

As part of the package, these young performers often have huge repertoires (part of the marketing appeal) that they play accurately but without much insight (insight sometimes takes years of experience). Josef Hofmann was once asked about performing all of the Chopin Etudes (which of course he could do), and he said something like "I'm surprised at you. Nobody has ever lived who can really do justice to more than half a dozen etudes." So while he could play all of them, he felt his performance of only some of them was worthy of being done in public. Old time pianists had high standards.

Not so with today's young piano players: as soon as they have memorized something, they trot it out in public and on records, and pretty soon people don't realize that this kind of playing is not special. It is only accurate, memorized and sounds pretty much like everybody else, except maybe faster and/or louder. But the essence of the music, the harmonies, the bass lines, the inner voices, the shapes, the imagination, expressiveness based on comprehension of the music, are not there. Only notes, and lots of speed and volume. True it can be exciting, especially to young people, but it turns out to be just youthful energy, rather than musical inspiration - they have not mastered the language and style of a particular era. And especially, they don't listen to themselves well.

Competition winners win those contests because they show promise. Winning the competition is a form of encouragement, and it is not necessarily much more than simply that. After Kissin has played for another 30 years he might become as fantastically wonderful as Liszt must have been. Who knows?

In spite of having heard most pianists playing before the public today, there are only a few I would actually spend the time to go hear again. As I said earlier, if you like them, fine. But please do explore the playing of the earlier artists. In other words, do your homework.

-- Alan (NoName_Poster@yahoo.com), July 25, 2001.

Two points: There is a wonderful video called "The Art of Piano" (correct---no second "the") which was once broadcast on public TV. It is available on the usual web sites. It has extraordinary footage of some of the very great pianists of the past: Rubinstein, Cortot, Hoffman, Arrau, etc, and some of these extracts are unforgettable.

There are some splendid modern pianists. (Kissin is brilliant, but a limited vision and repertoire). Brendel in the classic period, Schumann and Liszt is splendid. Likewise, Krystian Zimerman whose Chopin style is absolutely winning. Perahia, when he is "on" is superb: his new recording of the Goldberg Variations (Bach) is beautiful beyond belief. Andras Schiff plays Back magnificently. Pollini is a marvelous pianist. In chamber music, Susan Tomes, of the former "Domus" and now independent, is world-class. The past always looks better, and perhaps in this case it is, but we have very great artists now also.

-- (noname_poster@yahoo.com), July 25, 2001.

Yes I know, I have that video the art of the piano. Unfortunately I can't go and see Padewreski, Hoffman, Rachmaninoff, Rubenstein and all them. They are all dread. If I could then maybe I would be as excited about them as I am about Evgeny. I know that the past performers were better. Obviously they were because no one can even create classical music as well anymore. So I don't understand what gave you guys the impression that I dont do my "homework" on the past.

I like Evgeny, just because I like one modern pianist doesn't mean that that is the only thing I listen to. He is shown interviewed on that video "the Art of the Piano," and he says things about playing that shows that he's not a fake. Whenever people come extremely famous, people have the need to make it out to be such a bad thing, calling them sell-outs and such.

Evgeny only plays 60 concerts a year. He's not all profit. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with making a profit anyway.

He also knows what hes good at. He said he wouldn't play any Debussy because he doesnt have the feel for french music. He doesn't just play anything he can read the notes to. He plays what he can relate to and bring out the essence of the song.

The past performers are dead...You can't watch them perform anymore. We only have their recordings. So I don't know about you, but I like seeing classical performances of today even if they aren't as brilliant as the past ones.

-- hanson (slw@cape.com), July 26, 2001.

You would be interested in the film The Art of Piano: Great Pianists of the 20th Century. Kissin makes some comments in the film, and it includes rare footage of some really great pianists like Richter, Gilels, Horowitz, Rubinstein, even Paderewski and Josef Hofmann.

-- Jon Ensminger (jlens@cybrzn.com), July 26, 2001.

Whoops! Broken link. Try Great Pianists.

-- Jon Ensminger (jlens@cybrzn.com), July 26, 2001.

Yup, like I said, I have that video. I love it.

-- hanson (slw@cape.com), July 27, 2001.

My favs are Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart and Rachmaninoff. I havent played anything by Liszt except for Hungarian Rhapsody no.2.

To Alan: I agree that todays' pianists often can't generate the same emotional feeling, but I don't criticise them, because although they don't surpass the great pianists before them, I support them because they continue to live for classical music and keep the art going. If you know what I mean! Hope it makes sense.

-- Vipercat (noname_poster@yahoo.com), July 27, 2001.

If we were to take the view that there are no great pianists anymore, it would be both an eitist and very self defeating posture.

There is great value in listening to recordings of the past. There is great value in listening to Horowitz, but I have a major problem when I go to some music camp video and see a teenager playing Horowitz's stars and stripes forever and cloning the same rubato, literally copying off the record.

All accomplished pianists do some things greately, and that includes not so famous pianists.

Helene Grimaud is a great pianist. Kissin is a great pianist. There is always someone who takes an elitist posture and criticises concert artists. It must bring them some sort of inner pleasure, but the records yet sell despite such opinion.

I attended a Perlman concert at the Baltimore Symphony. He played the Mendelsohn concerto. He was brilliant. Now, Mr. Perlman, is of course, a violinist, but the same holds true here. A known critic had the audacity to write that Perlman was out of tune. He didn't understand what a good portamento is supposed to sound like, obviously. I assure you there was not one instance of poor intonation from Mr. Perlman. Things such as that really irritate me.

I listen very intentely to Cziffra, as to me, he was the closest thing to Franz Liszt. That's a subjective opinion, but I only know that no one touches his interpretations of the Hungarian Rhapsodies. That doesn't mean I'm right. It just means it's my personal preference, unlike the person above, who seems to want to state his opinion as an elitist fact.

I tried listening to Horowitz, version of #2, but there is too much music that is not present in the score during the Friska. I'd like to know to this day where such originated.

Point is that we can learn from listening to anyone, even local recitals. It is probably safe to say that anyone signed to a major classical label, such as Sony Records, is most certainly a great pianist.

-- Chuck Wagner (pianist72@hotmail.com), March 28, 2002.

I have heard Kissin in the hall three times in three separate venues: Severance Hall (Cleveland), Orchestra Hall (Chicago) and Carnegie Hall ( New York), and in every case the performance was engaging. His repertoire for these concerts included Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin and Liszt. As with so many artists today, the technique displayed was beyond cavil. In Kissin's case, however, the feeling separated this pianist from so many others. In the great b minor sonata of Liszt, the power and range of the work gripped the audience and never abated. I was emotionally exhausted when the final understated chord was played. The audience was completely in Kissin's hands. This is the stuff of greatness.

-- Tom Bennignus (russkieman@yahoo.com), November 19, 2004.

What a rich conversation.

To me, motivation is a big component of what makes something beautiful. When i really think about it, most (but not all) of the recordings that i've purchased over the years (regardless of genre or instruments) aren't really all that seamless. A few are seamlessly beautiful by virtue of the production team, others seamlessly beautiful by virtue of the featured player(s). Sometimes its both-- which is always amazing! so, when i feel like i'm hearing a bit of the motivating forces behind the artist(s), then i'm even that much more likely to be hooked.

The redeeming thing about the non-seamless songs/albums is that they still please me because i enjoy listening through the roughness to hear what was hopefully intended. Clear artists will often enough express a song so clearly and artfully that i have to resist being emotionally swept up in the moment that i hear them. There's one pianist in particular whose songs would literally bring me to tears before i even knew anything about them.

After reading some biographical info, it's even more potent. I feel guilty for listening to those records at times because i know i will be soon be tearful. You can imagine how pathetic i look and feel when such an artist is acrobatically expressing a particularly sad and vivid song.

Another thing that happens goes something like this: I will occasionally hear really really impressive and evocative music in other people's collections and on a few decent radio shows. but, i won't be inspired to buy the music, regardless of how good it is. it's almost as if the chance to hear a wonderful thing a few times is enough. In other instances, the music is so familiar that purchasing it would be pleasant but nearly redundant. And there's something calming and relaxing about not trying to obtain something.

To be fair, i admit that i know next to nothing of music history in any given genre or part of the world. My own piano playing isn't so good in any style. When i'm playing my own songs i can get frustrated, but i don't feel cheated. Alternatively, the more i play the songs of others, the more i feel like a thief and frustrated. (-- which won't do at all!) Maybe this is why i currently avoid sheet music. not sure.

I like what one of you said about the dangers of repeating others' mistakes. I'd like to add that in following a muse too closely there's also the danger of just plain clobbering or polluting their work. Of course, there's always the issue of overconfidence. I guess that's a good case in favor of copyright law (--regarding derivative works).

I regret not having thought more thoroughly about the kinds of things you guys are bringing up.

Well, cool discussion anyhow.

-- a former piano student (dayofbrahma@aol.com), November 21, 2004.

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