Saturday, October 18, 2008

Evgeny Kissin, Collaborative Artist

From a John Woods review of a recent art song recital by baritone Dimitry Hvorostovsky and pianist Evgeny Kissin at the Barbican in London:
Kissin's remarkable skill as a pianist gave him access to an extremely wide dynamic range. This meant not only delicate piannissimi, but also, of course, massive waves of sound. These were thrilling and appropriate at times, for instance in Rachmaninov's justly famous 'Vesenniye vody', but I felt he belied his relative lack of experience as an accompanist in not always recognising where it would have been preferable to keep things a little less explosive. This applied particularly to the group of Medtner songs after the interval. As one would expect, given that Medtner wrote the songs with his own considerable skills as a pianist in mind, the piano writing is very full, and seems to exploit the central register of the piano particularly richly. This coincides closely with the vocal tessitura of these songs when undertaken by a baritone. Had Kissin been accompanying a mezzo-soprano, singing an octave higher than Hvorostovsky does, there would have been no issue, but as it was, the vocal line was frequently overwhelmed in these settings.
Kudos to Mr. Woods for some perceptive writing on collaborative playing that one doesn't often see in classical music criticism.  Read the entire review here.

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