Sublime revelations from Evgeny Kissin in his Verizon Hall recital

Although retired since 2014, I still relish opportunities to teach, write, and share opinions.

The Program

Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 27 in E minor, Op. 90
Chopin Nocturne in F-sharp minor, Op. 48, No. 2
Chopin Fantaisie in F minor, Op. 49
Brahms Four Ballades, Op. 10
Prokofiev Piano Sonata No. 2 in D minor, Op. 14

Pianist Evgeny Kissin appeared in recital Wednesday, May 15, 2024, to a full house at Philadelphia’s Verizon Hall. Evgeny Kissin has been world-famous for decades, and Philadelphia became host to him on his American tour. 

A short biography of the artist would include that pianist Evgeny Kissin was born in 1971 in Moscow, and by the age of two was playing by ear and improvising on the family piano. He made his concert debut at age 10, and by the age of 12 had begun his career, performing in Moscow. Kissin made his Western debut in 1987.
Mr. Kissin became a British citizen in 2002 and an Israeli citizen in 2013. He now resides in Prague with his wife, Karina Arzumanova, a childhood friend whom he married in 2017. Mr. Kissin has two Grammy Awards, and has published his autobiography. He prefers not to speak about music, but to let it speak for itself, for he believes that music exists in another reality from language. 

Verizon Hall lit the recital with a spotlight flooding the artist and his Steinway, while the audience sat in soothing semi-darkness. The walls of the stage were lit in various colors, with each piece having either red light, an icy blue light, or a fantasy of what seemed to be orange and blue lights. 
For those never having heard this artist live, it must be said that he delivers a thrilling sound, with beautiful sonorities, and exhibiting no sense of effort or strain whatsoever. His climaxes do not jangle, or sound ugly at all; remarkably, they exist organically as sounds grow loud or soft under his expert hands. Each piece played during his recital provoked hypnotic transports of delight, as we experienced visions of Paradise. Whether Evgeny Kissin played Beethoven (1770-1827), Chopin (1819-1849), Brahms (1833-1897), or Prokofiev (1891-1953), we felt the drama and expressive power from each composer, so much so that when the final majestic notes of the stupendous performance of the Prokofiev Sonata concluded, the audience exploded into rapturous applause, rising as one to its feet for a standing ovation unchecked except for several encores by the artist, which includedProkofiev’s March from The Love for Three Oranges and a Brahms’ Waltz.

Bravos all around to Ensemble Arts Philly, the new organization representing Kimmel Cultural Campus and The Philadelphia Orchestra, and (perhaps most appreciatively) to Joan N. Stern for partially funding this recital. 

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