Evgeny Kissin Recital – 2 March

Sonata in B flat, D960
Ständchen / Das Wandern / Wohin? / Aufenthalt
Petrarch Sonnet 104
Mephisto Waltz No.1

Evgeny Kissin (piano)

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: 2 March, 2003
Venue: Royal Festival Hall, London

After the mauling Kissin gave Brahms’s second concerto last year at the Proms, how would Schubert’s ultimate sonata fare? None too well. No manhandling this time, it was just earthbound and inconsequential. Beginning his recital ’cold’ with a work that needs to have been somewhere first, Kissin began hesitantly, very slow in the Russian manner of Richter, but with none of his magnetism, only to then lurch through the exposition, the repeat of which was unwelcome. A moment of enchantment did settle on the latter stages of the development, yet with the recapitulation Kissin undertook the same halting formula – here we go again. The slow movement was worse – static and unimaginative. The scherzo brought some relief to this generally shapeless and tedious account, with the Finale, reduced to a chugging toccata, with chinks appearing in Kissin’s technical armoury, offering no reclamation or shadows therein – no questions asked, certainly none answered.

The second half – and really this programme should have been in reverse order (although it reflects Kissin’s priorities) – contained leaden, unvaried accounts of Liszt’s transcriptions of Schubert songs, an over-worked one of the Sonnet, and a banged and distorted Mephisto Waltz. The first of no doubt several encores, a Schubert Impromptu made soporific, was enough for me.

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