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Chopin: 24 Preludes, Op. 28; Sonata No. 2 "Funeral March"; Polonaise, Op. 53

Evgeny Kissin Audio CD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
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1. "24 Preludes, Op. 28"
2. "Sonata No. 2, Op. 35, in B-Flat Minor"
3. Prelude No. 1 in C
4. Prelude No. 2 in A Minor
5. Prelude No. 3 in G
6. Prelude No. 4 in E Minor
7. Prelude No. 5 in D
8. Prelude No. 6 in B Minor
9. Prelude No. 7 in A
10. Prelude No. 8 in F-Sharp Minor
11. Prelude No. 9 in E
12. Prelude No. 10 in C-Sharp Minor
13. Prelude No. 11 in B
14. Prelude No. 12 in G-Sharp Minor
15. Prelude No. 13 in F-Sharp
16. Prelude No. 14 in E-Flat Minor
17. Prelude No. 15 in D-Flat
18. Prelude No. 16 in B-Flat Minor
19. Prelude No. 17 in A-Flat
20. Prelude No. 18 in F Minor
See all 31 tracks on this disc

Product Description


It was with the music of Chopin that Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin first took the international spotlight as a prodigy. Since that "Legendary" 1984 Moscow Concert, the prodigy's metamorphosis into a fully developed artist bursting with astounding ideas and expressive urgency can be seen through the lens of his various other Chopin recordings. While some have found Kissin's more recent ventures into the composer's music--such as his account of the Ballades, the latest release before this disc--too self-conscious, he's largely in phenomenal form here, both technically and expressively. Kissin's program brings together some of Chopin's most daunting challenges; as usual with this pianist, expect to discover some hitherto vaguely lurking connections made fresh and clear, whether among the 24 epigrammatic, jeweled Préludes or within the scale of the towering Sonata No. 2, here performed with unmistakably personal yet compelling intensity. Some of Kissin's choices, such as drawing out the funeral march (more than two minutes longer than in Pollini's interpretation) might at first sound downright weird, but the full impact--especially in the arresting first movement--can have an almost oracular persuasiveness. This is also true in the way Kissin manages the extrovert vs. introvert Chopin, in his brandishing of contrasts, climaxes, and in the fascinating rhythmic subtlety that comes to the fore in a number of the Préludes. --Thomas May

Product Description

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Kissin Bashers Miss the Point Nov. 1 2002
Format:Audio CD
Kissin's playing on this album, including Chopin's unparalleled cycle of preludes, is simply mystifying. I found myself in turns wondering at his virtuosity and using that wonder again and again to probe deeper into the music itself.
Kissin skeptics argue too frequently that by virtue of his exploitation of his exceptional talent, he is a musical hack, a showman who rarely finds the 'music' he is attempting to play. I find this argument unconvincing.
Kissin is quite simply the most talented pianist in the world. There is nothing he can't do with those 88 keys. And, yes, he will always remind the listener (or viewer) that there are perhaps a handful of people in the world who can play a particular piece at the tempo and in as many clear, distinct voices as he plays. For instance, I was immediately off-put by his playing of the 'Heroic' Polonaise, op. 53, track #29 on this album; Kissin plays at a roughly 30% higher tempo than any other pianist I have heard. But that is not to say it lacks clarity or reflection (at least as much reflection as was intended by Chopin).
For anyone who has doubts about Kissin's ability to completely reveal all nuances that any composer may have intended in a piece, I strongly recommend listening to Kissin's performance of Liszt's Paganini variation #3 (La Campanella), available only, I believe, on Kissin's 'The Gift of Music' DVD biography. Anyone familiar with the piece and other recordings of it have to be simply weakened at the knees by Kissin's complete domination of the piece, again at a significantly higher tempo than others would dare to attempt.
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2.0 out of 5 stars It's the expressivity, stupid Sept. 19 2002
Format:Audio CD
What's happened to Kissin's playing lately has made me sad. Oh sure, he's still famous and packs them in, but his playing has become increasingly harsh, ugly and unfeeling. There isn't an ounce of poetry in these Preludes. Banging, yes, and lots of volume, but all the blood, sweat and tears don't produce much *music.* Cortot expended half the energy and got five times the results.
For example, the First Prelude has clumsy and heavy phrasing. It sounded to me like a first year piano student learning how to "feel" the music for the first time, only of course Kissin has more technique than any first year student. The Second prelude bears far too much weight and pathos. Kissin gives it the gravity of the finale of the Tchaikovsky Pathetique Symphony--and it can't really withstand it and turns out distended. (And this from someone who *likes* a player such as Ugorski!) The Third is all speed and no charm, and someone has to teach Kissin what leggieramente means. The Fourth is hampered--as are many including the "Raindrop"--by monotonous rhythmic regularity. Some pianists can really shade and color works like these. Not here. Yet I enjoyed some of Kissin's earlier discs (the Carenegie Hall recitals) so much, compared with this.
The Sonata is much the same, and I won't go into details for danger of repeating myself. Except to say the Funeral March really drives my point home: Kissin bangs hard. He gives you deep, black bass notes. But Rubinstein, with less effort, is more frightening, more about *death.*
The biggest disaster is the unfelt, undramatic encore piece, the famous Polonaise, Op. 53. No charm, no excitement, nothing but lots of loud, steely notes and excessive technique. Yo, Gene, you're not playing the Hammerklavier Sonata here. Virtuosity takes a back seat to expression.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is excellent Chopin playing! Oct. 20 2001
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
If you want to hear Chopin: the frail, consumptive, and suble poet, this is the wrong CD. Kissin's Chopin is bold, ardent, even explosive. Perhaps to the detriment of certain interpretive schools, the Preludes here are conceived as a melancholy and solemn collectivity.
Kissin unleashes demonic fury in Preludes 8, 12, 16, 22, 24, and the effect is utterly thrilling. Although Kissin possesses consumate technique, he never deploys it tastelessly and indiscriminately. Every Prelude, no matter how dense and loud its texture is, is executed with a clear sense of direction and exquisite voicing. The "quieter" Preludes are no exception. It's hard to believe all those the accusations of clumsiness, unmusicality, and immaturity after listening to the passion of Prelude #1, the shimmering gossamer runs of #3 (left hand) & #10 (RH), the mystical atmosphere of # 23, the liquidity of #19, the nobility of #9, and the deep-rooted melancholy of #5.
The "Funeral March" Sonata is superb and grippingly intense. The conception is definitely on the dark and aggressive side, yet it's appropriate for the haunted, tragic atmosphere of supposedly, a funeral march. The highlight of the Sonata lies in the heart-breaking and lovely phrasing of the famous theme. I was also bowled over by the shriekish, bone-chilling nature of the 4th movement (reminiscent of a windswept graveyard).
The Heroic Polonaise is remarkable for the incredible control and speed of the octave section. But I found this reading a bit tame and lacking in rythmic force.
Nonetheless, this is all in all, an oustanding and original performance. Personally, I had no problems with the recorded sound.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Uncomfortable
Yes, a bit: & yet it is so hard to point why.
The sound is not excellent: I'd call it reverb but it is actually really bad acoustic conditions; the sound gets dispersed... Read more
Published on Aug. 31 2001 by Nifi Seti
2.0 out of 5 stars Kissin must hate Chopin
based on this recording, as he seems compelled to get through it as quickly as possible. If some of the sheer velocity weren't at least viscerally exciting, it would only get one... Read more
Published on July 31 2001 by "s_molman"
1.0 out of 5 stars unnatural
I have to agree with 3-star review that said the other Chopin Prelude recording by Ivan Moravec, while 35 years old, sounds better. Read more
Published on July 21 2001 by Erica Ford
5.0 out of 5 stars another excellent disc from Evgeny Kissin
i love Evgeny Kissin's Chopin. its better than Rubinstein and Horowitz. the sound quality is awesome. Read more
Published on May 23 2001 by Listener
3.0 out of 5 stars Where's the poetry?
I'd have to say I'm sorry I got this one. My listening has concentrated on the preludes, which are the most distinctive works composed by Chopin. Read more
Published on Feb. 8 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Pianistic excellence
Despite several reviews to the contrary, this is an excellent recording of the preludes. Far from being a "portentous potentate" of the keyboard - as Gramophone has... Read more
Published on Jan. 16 2001 by J. Alfonso
5.0 out of 5 stars review
I am not a chopin expert, but when I got this cd I almost returned it due to the price. BUT AFTER HEARING THIS GREAT MUSIC, I'M GLAD I DIDN'T RETURN IT. WHAT A MONSTER PLAYER. Read more
Published on Oct. 5 2000 by Marvin A. Zimmer
4.0 out of 5 stars Good performance medium recording!
In 1999 I heard Kissin "live" in Lisbon. He plays the 15 Chopin's preludes and I never had seen an artist be receive so many applause's than Kissin. Read more
Published on Sept. 29 2000 by Antonio Silva
4.0 out of 5 stars some new departures,yet mature vision yet to come
The depth,the pain,anxiety,and emotive scope of Chopin is what we have come to measure all pianists against,what they can say as artists. Read more
Published on Aug. 27 2000 by scarecrow
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Chopin performance, but fasten your seat belts!
This is quite simply a great performance of some of Chopin's most beloved pieces! As always Mr. Kissin amaze with his great virtuosity which is unmatched by any of his... Read more
Published on July 23 2000 by Anders Albrechtsen
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