Mussorgsky, Bach, Glinka

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Bach,Glinka,Mussorgsky
LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
WORKS: Pictures at an Exhibition
PERFORMER: Evgeny Kissin (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 63884 2
In some ways, Kissin is the victim of his own success. His almost legendary status, at an age when he is too old to be accepted as a prodigy yet too young to be slotted into the ‘great master’ pigeonhole, seems to have spawned a crowd of mostly journalistic gainsayers who mumble knowingly about the emperor’s new clothes and complain about his hair. I am by no means an uncritical admirer. Not all of his interpretations strike me as great, but the greatest are very great indeed. This release belongs firmly in the latter category. Too idiosyncratic for some, perhaps, his account of the Mussorgsky Pictures strikes me as the greatest recorded performance of the work since Richter’s fabled 1958 version. Pianistically alone, this is quite phenomenal playing, with a range of colours, tempi and textures that puts many of his most prominent colleagues to shame, but it is the vividness, conviction and variety of his purely interpretative insights that linger longest in the mind. In certain respects, Kissin is a throwback to an earlier generation of virtuosi who combined subjective vision, spontaneity and unimpeachable musical integrity with a glorying in the very essence of the piano itself and its almost limitless possibilities. His playing of the Bach-Busoni has a particular kind of majesty and nobility of spirit (and an unshowy depth of pianistic and rhythmic insight) which are rarely encountered among today’s foremost pianists. A magnificent release. Jeremy Siepmann