There was only one rule at pianist Evgeny Kissin’s recital Friday at Carnegie Corridor: No dessert until you eat your greens.
However the greens—music by Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, plus a plate of Chopin’s quirky mazurkas–had been served with such wealthy and savory sauces of pianistic coloration that one nearly forgot about dessert.
Then the kitchen doorways swung open and the flaming platter appeared, bearing Chopin’s candy and fiery Andante spianato and Grande polonaise brilliante, Op. 22, and dessert was served: virtuoso pianism of the early 20th-century Russian college, surviving one way or the other within the enjoying of this pianist born in 1971.
The truth is, the artist devoted Friday’s program to the late Anna Pavlovna Kantor, his sole trainer since age six, who died final yr at age 98. There have been even some pedagogical echoes within the night’s repertoire: Bach and Mozart had been the composers whose music Chopin assigned to his pupils, earlier than his personal compositions joined that required regime in later generations.
After which there’s Beethoven, the composer each pianist should grapple with ultimately. Through the years, Kissin has triumphed with the fierce focus of the “Appassionata” Sonata and struggled a bit to know the visionary final sonata in C Minor, Op. 111. On Friday, he discovered a extra congenial heat and movement within the latter’s litter-mate, the Sonata in A-flat main, Op. 110.
Following an outdated precedent, Kissin opened this system with Bach in a 19th-century association, on this case the superstar of Bach organ works, the Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565. The piano model by the legendary virtuoso Carl Tausig, finger-twisting although it was, caught near Bach’s authentic, needing few additional gildings to convey the organ piece’s grandeur and hearth. For his half, Kissin averted Romantic phrasing in favor of a extra organ-like presentation, with terraced dynamics, chugging rhythms and coloration adjustments that echoed organ registration. For all its Romantic pedigree, this efficiency sounded surprisingly devoted to its Baroque roots.
Mozart’s Adagio in B minor, Okay. 540, is a one-of-a-kind, looking out late work, stuffed with hesitations and silences, underneath which one sensed, in Friday’s efficiency, a gradual pulse that buoyed the music alongside. It appeared to narrate to the works round it on this system, starting with a Chopinesque singing line over a wealthy bass, and finally the stopped-time feeling of a Beethoven Adagio.
Then it was time for Beethoven himself in a leisurely temper, with the tender opening track of Op. 110 blossoming right into a ripple of arpeggios that favored a Romantic wash of sound over Classical lucidity. Once more, Kissin’s regular tempo enabled the shapely phrases to narrate to and construct on one another. The pianist approached the contrasting minor-key Allegro molto with a lightweight contact, not overly aggressive, the syncopated accents extra full-bodied than harsh.
This reflective efficiency darkened significantly within the doleful descending phrases of the Adagio, ma non troppo, with sensitively voiced left-hand chords marking the sluggish tempo underneath the operatic aria d’affetto. A kinder, gentler model of the inexorable momentum of Bach’s D minor organ fugue propelled the sonata’s fugal finale, with its sturdy strolling topic, which Kissin artfully highlighted amid the contrapuntal issues. After a pause to mirror much more darkly on the Adagio theme, a outstanding return-to-life crescendo of repeated chords ushered within the fugue’s scintillating conclusion, backed by all of the wealthy, weighty forte this Russian-trained pianist may muster.
Seven Chopin mazurkas adopted intermission, each a bit of (or not so little) folk-dance poem, programmed (because it occurred) in precise order of publication: the B-flat main, Op. 7, no. 1, vibrant and extroverted with its comical dissonant appoggiatura; the G minor, Op. 24/1, a tragic modal track that cheered up within the center; a strutting C main, Op. 24/2, with glowing syncopations; a velvet-toned C minor, Op. 30/1; the B minor, Op. 30/2, contrasting chromatic and diatonic tunes, with completely different piano contact for every; a leisurely, considerate model of the C main, Op. 33/3; and Op. 33/4, a mazurka-epic in lots of sections, from veiled to sonorous.
Within the lengthy final piece and all through the set, the pianist stored the dance beat going, whereas digging deep in his capacious bag of tone colours and touches to forestall mazurka monotony from setting in.
In 1830, when youth and relatively good well being nonetheless allowed the 20-year-old Chopin to aspire to a profession as a touring virtuoso, he displayed his wares in a Grande polonaise brillante for piano and orchestra, later becoming this compendium of wows with a dreamy, spianato (actually, smoothed-out) prelude.
The work’s orchestral bits are simply folded into the piano half to make a bit for piano solo, which is how it’s usually heard at present. One doesn’t, nonetheless, usually hear an andante as pearly and ethereal as Kissin’s on Friday, or a polonaise dispatched with such insouciant splendor. The viewers eagerly devoured the long-delayed dessert.
The encores reprised the night’s program: Bach, in Ferruccio Busoni’s tenebrous association of the organ prelude “Nun komm der Heiden Heiland,” BWV 659; Mozart, in a dizzying efficiency of the prolonged Rondo in D main, Okay. 485, with all of the rating’s indicated repeats; and a show-offy rendering of Chopin’s “Heroic” Polonaise in A-flat main, Op. 53, extra “Grande” than grand. A young, glowing Chopin Waltz in F minor, Op. 70, No. 2, was the encore to the encores.
Carnegie Corridor presents “Anne-Sophie Mutter and Buddies,” together with violinists Mutter and Ye-Eun Choi, violist Vladimir Babeshko and cellist Pablo Ferrández, performing string quartets by Haydn, Beethoven and Jörg Widmann, 8 p.m. Thursday, June 2. carnegiehall.org.