Thursday, November 05, 2015

Kissin plays Beethoven, Brahms, Albeniz

I procrastinated writing about that nice Kissin recital last week, so I'm afraid he gets the bullet point treatment:
  • Not really sure what I'm looking for from Mozart in recital these days but Kissin's opener, the Piano Sonata No. 10, didn't quite have it. At times it feels like Mozart is not a great fit for Kissin's gifts, as if he is working over time to inject character into the piece, only really connecting where the Sonata takes a darker, more expansive tone.
  • The Appassionata was monumental, staggering--a rendition to easily best any in recent memory and people program it a whole lot in DC. Kissin doesn't just want to give you an exciting take, he wants you to hear the symphony orchestra thrashing around in the piano as Beethoven surely heard it, and he has the technical gifts and commitment to deliver.
  • Was very glad to see three Brahms Intermezzi programmed (Op. 117), which found Kissin in a somewhat subdued mode after intermission. The first was maybe a bit ponderous, but he found wonderful colors in the second and third rounding out the set.
  • The real revelation in the second half were four pieces of Isaac Albeniz. Perhaps not repertoire we're used to hearing from him but they were handled beautifully, Kissin bringing out gorgeous singing melodies while imbuing even smaller details, like the rippling water figure in the first piece, with trademark polish.
  • The first two encores offered more opportunities to hear his skills with Spanish composers in two pieces of Granados, plus a suitably rousing Brahms' Hungarian dance No. 1.
The DC crowd tried their best to eke out a 4th encore, but we'll have to wait until 2018 for our next chance to hear him. Very tempted now to make good on my plans to catch that program of Hebrew poetry and composers from last year that he is repeating at Carnegie in December...

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