Piano Street Magazine

Kissin Giving Liszt to the World

June 29th, 2011 in Piano News by | 4 comments

Evgeny Kissin is a great pianist in the Russian tradition, with the sweeping style, generous tone and powerful but supple technique that marks an heir of Rachmaninov. But for him, music is a language and performance is about communicating meaning, and he can conjure a world of imagination – reflective and insightful – even as he dazzles with his astonishing mastery of the instrument. The music world is marking the bicentennial of the birth of Franz Liszt — composer, virtuoso, and all-around diabolical genius. Kissin’s on-going world tour is therefor devoted entirely to works by Franz Liszt, to mark the 200th anniversary and which means appearances at the most distinguished venues around the world, including La Scala, Concertgebouw, Barbican and Carnegie Hall.

Kissin Plays Liszt - New CD to be released on July 12, 2011

Kissin Plays Liszt - New CD to be released on July 12, 2011

“Kissin’s musicality, poetic interpretations, and extraordinary virtuosity have placed him at the forefront of the world’s new generation of pianists. So compelling is Kissin’s pianism, so fresh his response to even the most familiar phrases, that one hangs on every note.”
– The New York Times

“The splendid all-Liszt recital by Evgeny Kissin Sunday at Orchestra Hall pointed up a couple of interesting coincidences. When Liszt was Kissin’s age, he too was a virtuoso pianist famous the world over, even though he had already retired from active concertizing by the age of 40. Kissin, who – astonishingly enough, given his youthful appearance – will turn 40 in October, sounds as if he could go on delighting audiences forever. The evidence was plentiful on Sunday – the sovereign technical command that made everything seem effortless, the myriad stylistic insights, the avoidance of showmanship for its own empty sake. Sometimes Kissin made it all appear a bit too easy: You wanted a bit more of the sense of a performer grappling mano a mano with musical behemoths and finally vanquishing them, the way Vladimir Horowitz did. But this cavil wilted in the searing magnificence of the Russian pianist’s performances.”
– Chicago Tribune

“Despite the familiarity of his name, Liszt remains one of the great unknowns of 19th-century music, with swathes of his enormous output off-limits to performers and audiences. Evgeny Kissin’s all-Liszt programme may not have explored neglected territory, but the conviction generated by his combination of technical mastery with impeccable stylistic assurance offered a firm counterblast to those who view the composer as a superficial showman.”
– Guardian

“As I opened the programme to this all-Liszt recital by Evgeny Kissin, my eye was caught by a date: “Born in 1971…” Could it really be true that the eternally youthful piano wizard was about to enter his 40th year, and join the ranks of the middle-aged? Seeing him walk on stage with that familiar bright-adolescent gait, bowing very politely left and right, it seemed frankly implausible. The IAs for the playing, it was just as blemish-free and uncannily perfect as the man. Kissin really can conjure miracles of textural refinement and glittery sound from a piano, so much so that you can feel they actually obscure the music. But – the Liszt fan might say – that’s a false distinction. The whole point about Liszt’s wonderful piano tone-poems is that he makes pure sound expressive of a mood or scene. You don’t need to look for something ‘behind’ it.”
– Telegraph

Hear WPAS.org presentation of Kissin’s Liszt World Tour

Listen to earlier recordings with Kissin:

F. Liszt: Grandes Etudes de Paganini, S. 141-3 “La Campanella” in Royal Albert Hall 1997

In TV recital 1991 (Schubert, Liszt, Bach)

Piano scores to download and print:

Liszt – La Campanella, piano sheet music to download and print:

Liszt pieces performed in the TV recital:
Schubert: Auf dem Wasser zu singen
Schubert: Der Müller und der Bach
Schubert: Ständchen (Horch, horch)
Schubert: Gretchen am Spinnrade
Schubert: Erlkönig
Hungarian Rhapsody no 12 in C-sharp minor

For more information about this topic, use the search form below!


  • Mike says:

    Enough with the “eternally youthful” please. He’s never looked younger* than his years, unless you believe that old artist photos on new releases is a reliable guide. Shades of Pogorelich!

    *yes I’ve seen him on stage

  • Maidenodforest says:

    No one is eternally ‘youthful’ it is totally rubbish. But for Gould, his Bach interpretations were eternally applauded and of course, Kissin’ is a star, making the piano sound truly Liszt in spectacular fashion.

  • Andrew J Lorenz says:

    Although otherwise, IMO, the world’s greatest pianist, Kissin still plays negative/darker moods louder and good/triumphant moods softer although, from what I have heard of them, his emerging Mozart concerto recordings are perhaps an exception to this and I think better than Perahia’s.

  • Write a reply or comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *