WORKS: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12; Liebestraum No. 3 in A flat
PERFORMER: Evgeni Kissin (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: RV 10031
These recordings were made when Kissin was in his early teens, and the best of them are actually the first: the performances on the Revelation disc of Liszt’s Waldesrauschen and La leggierezza, and of Schumann’s Abegg Variations, all of them given when Kissin was 13, are electrifying. Never mind that the sound is unpleasantly close: you will not often hear piano playing like this.
Discounting a rendition of ‘Home Sweet Home’ incongruously squeezed between one of the most profound mazurkas and the great Barcarolle, Op. 60, the first two discs of the Olympia collection are given over to Chopin. Fine playing again, without doubt, but Kissin doesn’t find quite as much depth and serenity in the B minor Sonata or the F minor Fantasy as he does on his later RCA recordings. Nor, I think, does he convey the full poetry of Schumann’s Études symphoniques. This work appears, in different performances, on both the Olympia and Revelation discs, each time incorporating the five variations Schumann discarded. Also common to both is Liszt’s Twelfth Hungarian Rhapsody, with the Olympia performance being marginally preferable.
Those early Liszt and Schumann recordings on the Revelation CD are unmissable; but Kissin admirers will not be disappointed by either collection. Misha Donat