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Schubert/Brahms/Liszt

Yevgeny Kissin Audio CD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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1. Fantasia In C Major 'Wanderer' D 760: Allegro con fuoco ma non troppo
2. Fantasia In C Major 'Wanderer' D 760: Adagio
3. Fantasia In C Major 'Wanderer' D 760: Presto
4. Fantasia In C Major 'Wanderer' D 760: Allegro
5. Gretchen Am Spinnrade
6. Standchen
7. Der Mueller Und Der Bach
8. Auf Dem Wasser Zu Singen
9. Fantasien Op. 116: Capriccio. Presto energico
10. Fantasien Op. 116: Intermezzo. Andante
11. Fantasien Op. 116: Capriccio. Allegro passionato
12. Fantasien Op. 116: Intermezzo. Adagio
13. Fantasien Op. 116: Intermezzo. Andante con grazia ed intimissimo sentimento
14. Fantasien Op. 116: Intermezzo. Andantino teneramente
15. Fantasien Op. 116: Capriccio. Allegro agitato
16. Ungarische Rhapsodie No. 12

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Amazon.ca

This recital disc, recorded when Kissin was still in his teens, displays the phenomenal pianist's command of a spectrum extending from exuberant virtuoso style to deep-gazing, lyrical inwardness. Both, in fact, are present in the marvelous sonata-length Wanderer-Fantasie of Schubert. Kissin launches into its compulsive dactylic rhythm with an energy that soon sets sparks flying. It's a fiendishly difficult piece--in particular the fugal finale--which the composer himself could barely play, yet Kissin keeps our attention riveted on Schubert's promethean inventiveness. The Adagio's gently spun beauties as rendered here begin to approach the sphere of late Beethoven. Some Schubert song settings elaborately transcribed by Liszt are also included, to gorgeous effect. Kissin explores the inner world of Brahms's Op. 116 Fantasies with supreme sensitivity and an intuitive grasp of their densely concentrated vision. But when it comes to the athletic turns and scampering gymnastics of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12, Kissin can communicate a giddy mood of unlimited prowess and agility. This is the kind of artist whose every stage of development proves fascinating as he continues to mature. --Thomas May

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars THE GENUINE ARTICLE Aug. 14 2003
Format:Audio CD
Not ANOTHER ultimate virtuoso, I thought, remembering uneasily how Horowitz was dismissive, and Michelangeli downright rude, about the younger players. So this seemed like a good mix of pieces to start getting to know Kissin, with Liszt (of course) but Schubert and Brahms at their greatest too.
There's no mistaking it, the divine spark is here and no sense of the assembly-line virtuoso that I suppose is what Horowitz and Michelangeli were complaining about. In the Wanderer Fantasy Kissin is his own man, taking a more romantic view of the first section than Richter or Pollini. As with Richter (here at his very best) there is a warmth to the playing that I miss from Pollini, and I have to say that Richter is fully equalled by the kid with all the hair gazing out solemnly from the back of the record box. Obviously Kissin has the advantage of up-to-date recorded sound, but other than that any choice between Kissin and Richter is going to be a matter of details and personal temperament, so I prefer not to choose but to have both. In the Brahms pieces I was able to compare Kissin with the classic performance from Katchen's omnibus edition, and the first thing that struck me was that Kissin is an absolute natural for Brahms. The rubato is supremely natural and the tempi in the four slow pieces are, to my ears, definitely better chosen. The first 3 intermezzi gain in eloquence from Kissin's slower speeds, and the strange and very inward E minor is genuinely played 'con intimissimo sentimento'. Katchen misses this one, I feel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Schubert Jan. 15 2002
Format:Audio CD
I am not a big fan of Schubert in general, but the extraordinary Wanderer Fantasia is one of the greatest compositions ever created. Kissin powerful playing makes the piece extremely exciting, and the massive fugue in the end of the piece is amazing. The Listz-Schubert lieder and the Brahms fantasy are great. Finally, the ultra-virtuosic Liszt Rhapsody ends this magnificent recording.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Schubert, disappointing Brahms July 18 2000
Format:Audio CD
I like this disc, mostly because of the great playing Kissin offers us in the Wanderer Fantasie and the lied transcriptions of Schubert. The Schubert Wanderer Fantasie is played with an enormous drive an force, which gives this interpretation a very personal touch that certainly is very convincing. Kissin really plays the music as ik his life depends on it. I prefer this version above those by other famous pianists as Pollini or Fleisher. The lied transcriptions of the four Schubert songs by Liszt are simply stunning ! Not only are these great transcriptions, but they are played with a beatiful range of sounds, which goes from almost whispered till a huge explosion of sounds, like in the last strophe of "aus dem wasser zu singen". Just compare these versions even to those by Jorge Bolet, and you'll have to agree with me that these versions are of superior quality. As much as I like the first part of this disc, I can't as much appreciate the Brahms' Fantasien op.116, although I am a big fan of the music. Kissin's playing isn't just fit to Brahms's special world ( although I have to admit I greatly enjoyed his live performance of Brahms's third sonata op.5) Of course Kissin was only 18 years old at the time of the recording, and he too has matured over the years. However, these late pianoworks by Brahms require a special approach that I still haven't found on cd (Wilhelm Kempff neither satisfies me)(if anyone can recommend me a great version, please let me know)(pverelst@hotmail.com) There is something missing, cakll it maturity or whatever. This is music of an old Brahms, reflecting and thinking over his life, and maybe this music isn't to be played at age 18. The Liszt Rhapsody is more suited to Kissin, who again shows that he possesses a great technique, which certainly works well in this work. In conclusion, I can say that I don't regret having bought this disc, because of the great Schubert playing.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good but flawed Oct. 5 1999
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
To me Kissin's emotion seems contrived, as if someone told him to "play it again, this time with feeling!". There is a naturalness lacking here - a naturalness found in abundance in Brendel's and Richter's versions.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Schubert, disappointing Brahms July 18 2000
By peter verelst - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I like this disc, mostly because of the great playing Kissin offers us in the Wanderer Fantasie and the lied transcriptions of Schubert. The Schubert Wanderer Fantasie is played with an enormous drive an force, which gives this interpretation a very personal touch that certainly is very convincing. Kissin really plays the music as ik his life depends on it. I prefer this version above those by other famous pianists as Pollini or Fleisher. The lied transcriptions of the four Schubert songs by Liszt are simply stunning ! Not only are these great transcriptions, but they are played with a beatiful range of sounds, which goes from almost whispered till a huge explosion of sounds, like in the last strophe of "aus dem wasser zu singen". Just compare these versions even to those by Jorge Bolet, and you'll have to agree with me that these versions are of superior quality. As much as I like the first part of this disc, I can't as much appreciate the Brahms' Fantasien op.116, although I am a big fan of the music. Kissin's playing isn't just fit to Brahms's special world ( although I have to admit I greatly enjoyed his live performance of Brahms's third sonata op.5) Of course Kissin was only 18 years old at the time of the recording, and he too has matured over the years. However, these late pianoworks by Brahms require a special approach that I still haven't found on cd (Wilhelm Kempff neither satisfies me)(if anyone can recommend me a great version, please let me know)(pverelst@hotmail.com) There is something missing, cakll it maturity or whatever. This is music of an old Brahms, reflecting and thinking over his life, and maybe this music isn't to be played at age 18. The Liszt Rhapsody is more suited to Kissin, who again shows that he possesses a great technique, which certainly works well in this work. In conclusion, I can say that I don't regret having bought this disc, because of the great Schubert playing.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE GENUINE ARTICLE Aug. 14 2003
By DAVID BRYSON - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Not ANOTHER ultimate virtuoso, I thought, remembering uneasily how Horowitz was dismissive, and Michelangeli downright rude, about the younger players. So this seemed like a good mix of pieces to start getting to know Kissin, with Liszt (of course) but Schubert and Brahms at their greatest too.
There's no mistaking it, the divine spark is here and no sense of the assembly-line virtuoso that I suppose is what Horowitz and Michelangeli were complaining about. In the Wanderer Fantasy Kissin is his own man, taking a more romantic view of the first section than Richter or Pollini. As with Richter (here at his very best) there is a warmth to the playing that I miss from Pollini, and I have to say that Richter is fully equalled by the kid with all the hair gazing out solemnly from the back of the record box. Obviously Kissin has the advantage of up-to-date recorded sound, but other than that any choice between Kissin and Richter is going to be a matter of details and personal temperament, so I prefer not to choose but to have both. In the Brahms pieces I was able to compare Kissin with the classic performance from Katchen's omnibus edition, and the first thing that struck me was that Kissin is an absolute natural for Brahms. The rubato is supremely natural and the tempi in the four slow pieces are, to my ears, definitely better chosen. The first 3 intermezzi gain in eloquence from Kissin's slower speeds, and the strange and very inward E minor is genuinely played 'con intimissimo sentimento'. Katchen misses this one, I feel. The second of the two E major pieces shows up a characteristic that Katchen never quite grew out of in his all-too-short career, namely the well-meant delusion that greater 'depth', 'expressiveness', 'spirituality' or whatever is attained by playing pianissimo where the composer wrote 'piano' and playing adagio where the composer wrote 'andante'. This piece is not even andante but 'andantino' yet Katchen plays it adagio. Kissin's tempo is very reasonable as an andantino, but you might be surprised how the piece comes to life if you play it for yourself at a more flowing speed than we usually hear. In the three fast pieces I can't be so clear in my preference as both are excellent. The most striking diference is in the G minor capriccio with the central section featuring the one one and only big tune that I can recall in Brahms's solo piano music. Katchen is fast and ardent, Kissin slow and majestic. I can't make up my mind. Why should I have to?
Liszt's 4 Schubert song arrangements are wonderful. Liszt was at his best when someone else, e.g. Schubert or Verdi, provided the actual music. The power of these familiar melodies comes over in a new light, especially as played with effortless grandeur, sensitivity and flexibility by Kissin. There is also one of Liszt's own Hungarian Rhapsodies, and the playing is pretty terrific without quite persuading me, as Horowitz and Cziffra (almost) do that Liszt's original compositions are anything but absolute bobbins as music.
I shall be acquiring more of Kissin's work and listening out hard to try to catch a true individual voice as I catch it from Horowitz, Michelangeli, Richter, Serkin or Cziffra. Looking through some reviews I am pleased to see that people are keeping their critical faculties alert and not heaping on Kissin the indiscriminate plaudits that really do an injustice to Richter --he was a far more complex phenomenon than you would think to read much of it. One touch I have already noticed - Kissin understands the expressive potential of separating his hands, but as often as not plays the right hand first, which is a new one on me. I want to hear more.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful program of very fine performances by a great pianist March 6 2006
By Craig Matteson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
There is no denying the virtuosity and musical sensitivity of Yevgeny Kissin. This disk has a great deal of what Kissin offers on display. This performance of Schubert's "Wanderer Fantasie" is terrific. He shows the ability to present a large form piece coherently and with a technical ease that allows him to musically shape even the most difficult passages. While it is not my favorite recording of the work, I find this quite convincing and learned from it.

The four Schubert transcriptions by Liszt are excellently played. From the poignant ache of "Gretchen am Spinnrade" to the delightful joy of "Hark, Hark, the Lark" to the ache of the "The Miller and the Brook" and the glory of "To Sing on the Water". Kissin shows a great range and again, makes it all sound so easy.

Then Brahms Opus 116 is also an interesting choice for this disk. These are seven short works but are late Brahms and require musical maturity to go with the technique. I think I enjoy this performance of these pieces about the most I have ever heard. They are worth listening to again and again.

The last work on the disk, the Liszt "Hungarian Rhapsodie No. 12" is a problem for me. Kissin plays it with great virtuosity and each portion sounds great. However, this is not great music. I hate to say it, but it isn't. To pull it off, the pianist has to bring a sense of conviction to it. Even if he doesn't believe it himself, he has to make the audience believe that HE believes this is great music. Otherwise it comes across with a wheeze and you can here the handle cranking on the music machine. I am afraid that as well as Kissin plays the work, it did not convince me.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Schubert Jan. 15 2002
By Frederic Sala - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I am not a big fan of Schubert in general, but the extraordinary Wanderer Fantasia is one of the greatest compositions ever created. Kissin powerful playing makes the piece extremely exciting, and the massive fugue in the end of the piece is amazing. The Listz-Schubert lieder and the Brahms fantasy are great. Finally, the ultra-virtuosic Liszt Rhapsody ends this magnificent recording.
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive playing by a very talented young pianist; his "Wanderer" Fantasy is tops! Feb. 25 2014
By Kenneth Bergman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Yevgeny Kissin is a leading pianist who specializes in the romantic literature of the 19th Century. Born in Russia, he now resides in the UK and Israel. A musically precocious child, he began formal piano lessons at age 6, gave his first recital at 10, and was first recorded at 13. The present recording, made in December 1990 when he was 19, features music of Schubert, Liszt, and Brahms. Kissin was already a seasoned performer by this time, and his amazing piano technique is apparent in this recording.

The opening selection is Schubert's Fantasie in C. Its themes are based on a Schubert song, "The Wanderer," composed six years earlier, and the Fantasie is generally known by that name as well. Schubert interrupted composing his B-minor symphony ("Unfinished") to compose this piano work at the request of a wealthy amateur pianist. It's a virtuosic work noted for its difficulty; Schubert had trouble playing it himself, and of the concluding section said, "Only the devil can play it." The work is continuous but in four sections, an opening allegro con fuoco, an adagio, a scherzo, and a concluding allegro that is quasi-fugal. The slow section quotes the Wanderer song in its entirety, and the other sections are based on abbreviated versions of the theme's opening notes in quicker time. It's one of Schubert's greatest works and was greatly admired by Franz Liszt, who arranged an orchestral version of the piano score.

Many well known pianists have recorded the Wanderer Fantasie. Among the most admired performances are those of Sviatoslav Richter and Alfred Brendel. Richter's is notable for its energetic drive, and Brendel's for bringing out melodic lines. Kissin's performance contains a good measure of each of these qualities and, in my opinion, is the equal of these two great performers. He brings out the gorgeous lyricism of the adagio section, but one senses that there is coiled energy ready to burst forth, as it does in the middle of the section. In the fugal finale, he's pure dynamite. He's been accorded crisp sound which complements accurate pedaling; there's no muddiness in this performance.

Liszt arranged several Schubert songs for piano alone, with more elaborate settings than Schubert originally used, four of which are heard here. It's praiseworthy that Kissin's performances of these heartfelt pieces are good at emphasizing the basic melodic structure and keeping Liszt's added frills in the background. These are delightful renditions of some of Schubert's best songs.

Brahms composed and published his Fantasies for piano, Opus 116, in 1892. The Fantasies comprise seven short piano pieces called either capriccios or intermezzos. The andante or adagio intermezzos are well within the grasp of good amateur pianists; the livelier capriccios are more challenging. Many pianists have recorded these pieces as well as other sets that Brahms also wrote: Op. 117, 118, and 119. Kissin takes a very romantic approach to these short pieces, not inappropriate considering that Brahms marked No. 3 as "Allegro passionato," No. 5 as "Andante con grazia ed intimissimo sentimento," and No. 6 as "Andantino teneramente." Kissin takes rather slow tempos in the intermezzos compared to others; his andantes are almost adagios, and the adagio of No. 4 is molto adagio. He also uses a lot of rubato, little of which is actually indicated in the score. His playing of these selections resembles a recording I've heard of Emil Gilels performing them, except that Kissin uses a lighter touch. In his hands, No. 5 takes on a ghostly character. These interpretations are not run-of-the-mill, and one wonders what Brahms would have thought of them, but they have a certain appeal of their own and provide an interesting take on Brahms' piano music.

The concluding selection is Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12 in C-sharp Minor. This piece, based on Hungarian folk tunes and one of 19 rhapsodies, was composed in 1853. As usual with Liszt, one of the 19th Century's greatest piano virtuosos, this rhapsody is full of runs and other pianistic daredeviltry and requires a very accomplished pianist. Kissin rises to the occasion and shows off his skill in playing this kind of virtuoso music.

In summary, Kissin is an exceptionally talented pianist whose performances on this recording are very impressive. His "Wanderer" is the best thing here and rivals any that I've heard. The Schubert songs are beautifully done, and the Rhapsody gives him another chance to show off his virtuosic ability. There may be some qualms about his performances of the Brahms works, but I found them interesting and enjoyable in their own way.

The quality of the recording is high, with very realistic piano sound. The recording is available as both a CD and an MP3 file. Since I got the MP3, I'm unable to comment on any brochure that comes with the CD.
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