This is the second of Brilliant's box sets devoted to Russian recordings from Evgeny Kissin. Labeled as early, these live concert performances from 1984 to 1990 carry us from the day after Kissin turned 13 (Mozart Cto. #12 K. 414) to age 18 (Mozart Cto. #20, K. 466), with most readings clustering in the range of 1985-89. Russians were well aware of the marvel in their midst; the pianist's American breakthrough occurred in 1990 when he debuted at Carnegie Hall's centennial season.
As well as Brahms’ 175th birthday in 2008 inspired these recordings in the “Kunsthaus” in Mürzzuschlag. Ronald Fuchs and Chanda VanderHart play, in addition to the two cello sonatas, six Brahms lieder transcriptions in their original keys. The lieder selected have a special connection to both the Streicher piano and with Mürzzuschlag itself. Brahms played severel of them, including “Wie Melodien zieht es mir” with Hermine Spies, and composed both “Sapphische Ode” and “Der Tod, das ist die kühle Nacht” during his time in Mürzzuschlag.
For Evgeny Kissin, recording Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto must be déjà vu all over again, to quote noted American philosopher Yogi Berra, because every time the Russian pianist switches labels, he records the piece again. In 1985, he recorded it for RCA with Andrei Chistyakov and the Moscow Philharmonic, and in 1994, he recorded it for Deutsche Grammophon with Claudio Abbado and the Berliner Philharmoniker. In 2008 he recorded it for EMI with Vladimir Ashkenazy leading the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Recorded live at the Moscow Conservatory, this is a truly legendary performance. Any experienced veteran could be proud of it; that a boy of 12 should possess the necessary technique, the musical understanding and maturity, and the sustained concentration, is almost beyond belief. Reveling in his own limitless virtuosity, Kissin seems to be playing with as well as on the piano with elfin grace and delicacy; yet his command of the keyboard his warm, singing, powerful, varied tone are only tools for expressing his spontaneous response to the music.
Is this what Gallic Brahms sounds like? Well, violinist Renaud Capuçon is French-born and French-trained, and pianist Nicholas Angelich, while America-born, is French-trained, but does this make them French musicians rather than musicians who are French? Possibly: Capuçon has the lean, lyrical tone that has been the specialty of French violinists since Louis Capet and Angelich has the lush, lucid tone that has been the specialty of French pianists since Walter Gieseking.
Brahms’s two sonatas for clarinet and piano, Op 120, composed in 1894, were followed only by the four Serious Songs and a set of organ chorale preludes (some of which may have been written at earlier times). His farewell to chamber music was also his farewell gift to the clarinet. The two works recorded here were preceded by the Clarinet Trio in A minor (Op 114) and the great Clarinet Quintet in B minor (Op 115), and all four masterpieces were inspired by the playing of Richard Mühlfeld, principal clarinettist of the Meiningen Orchestra.
This is Volume 4 in Barry Douglas’s monumental project to record the complete works for solo piano by Johannes Brahms. Each volume has been released to critical acclaim, the first one, in 2012, being seen by BBC Music as ‘a triumph of Brahmsian thought, with playing that gets right to the heart of the composer’.
In 2011 the Berliner Philharmoniker and their musical director Sir Simon Rattle welcomed in the New Year with a gala concert programmed with ‘Dances & Dreams’. Spinetingling and inspiring performances of music by Dvořák, Ravel, Richard Strauss, Stravinsky and Brahms are complemented by the extraordinary talent of the multi-awarded Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin. Kissin’s musicality, the depth and poetic quality of his interpretations, and his extraordinary virtuosity have placed him at the forefront of today’s pianists, and his passionate performance of the renowned Piano Concerto in A minor by Edvard Grieg is mesmerizing.