Ever since the start of his career as a sensational child prodigy, Kissin has displayed a strong affinity for the music of Chopin, in concert and on numerous records. Here he performs a program of substantial pieces: the four ballades, written several years apart and not conceived as a group, which nevertheless complement one another through their contrasts as well as their shared narrative and descriptive atmosphere; the lovely, peaceful berceuse; the swaying, rocking barcarolle; and the brilliant, witty Scherzo No. 4. Throughout, Kissin's effortless virtuosity, his beautiful, singing tone, his command of voicing, dynamics, touch, color, and legato are phenomenal; cascades of notes flow from under his fingers with the speed and glittering lightness of dancing waters; his build-ups achieve orchestral sonorities. Musically, he seems to have lost some of his irresistible earlier spontaneity; the dramatic nature of the ballades encourages exaggeration, and the liberties sound a bit planned. However, the berceuse is a simple, expressive lullaby; the barcarolle surges to a grand climax; the scherzo sparkles with humor--its middle part projects a plaintive, ardent yearning. --Edith Eisler
NR (Not Rated)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Kissin is a dazzling performer, and his versions of the ballades is essential for anyone building a library of classical piano music. However, Kissin, I'm going to venture to say here, is as unpianistic as Glenn Gould was. If Gould put everything under a microscope, Kissin approaches everything in panorama. Both are extremes (which does not mean Gould wasn't a genius). Both pianists freely compromise a composer's intentions to fit their personal styles.
Kissin has a fluid, liquid-silver tone, and a dynamic range obviously geared to the concert hall. He makes things sound big and spacious. His technique is so sophisticated that he has driven himself permanently to some misty, rarefied plateau in the sky. The result is that sometimes you feel nothing at all has happened. His performances never touch the ground.
Having said that, it IS a lovely place when you're up there with him. But it's impersonal. People that buy this album that don't own any other version...
This recording, in my opinion, is yet another confirmation of Kissin's talent. To all of you who have criticized this recording (or Kissin's playing in general), I say that wether or not this particular interpretation pushes all the right buttons for you or not, I really don't think you can deny the fact that Kissin is a great artist. I, for example, don't like everything Schnabel does in the Beethoven Sonatas, but that doesn't make Schnabel any less an artist. And to say that his playing hasn't matured over the years is downright silly. His tonal spectrum has diversified a great deal. I especially notice that he can play a beautiful sotto voce, which I don't hear in his earlier recordings. And for God's sake, give the man a break. He's not even thirty years old. We can't expect him to do a lifetime worth of maturing in six years! I've listened to these pieces a lot the past few years and I dare say I know them quite well. Nevertheless, Kissin brings out aspects of them I...
Having heard Evgeny Kissin in the house on three separate occasions in solo repertoire of Beethoven, Liszt, Chopin and Brahms as well as in the Beethoven "Emperor" with the Cleveland Orchestra under Ashkenazy, I am fully convinced that Kissin is not only the most gifted of the younger pianists but the only real candidate before the public for classification as an "immortal". The recording considered herein confirms this in every way. I heard Evgeny in Chicago in an all-Chopin program that broke my heart. His limpid playing, his tonal palette and the controlled, yet open emotion literally moved me to tears. Therefore, it was with great excitement that I purchased the Ballades and audited them. There was not only no disappointment but a renewed sense of why this young man is esteemed so highly. Words like transcendent, numinous and revelatory come to mind upon hearing this recording. The powerful technique that Kissin commands can hide the humanity...
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