Meet the great pianists: Evgeny Kissin

It would not be hyperbole to say that the Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin is a genius. He gave his first concerto performance at age 10, and his recording of the two Chopin concertos when only twelve years old is still widely distributed and admired. In the video clip above, he is just 13 years old, playing a demanding program of works by Chopin with effortless ease and exemplary musicianship. You can hear various mazurkas and nocturnes, the celebrated Scherzo in B-flat minor, Op 31 and the great Fantaisie in F minor, Op 49.

Now in his fifties, Kissin is the rare prodigy that has grown into a mature pianist and is widely regarded as one of the all-time greats. His performances have an incredible visceral excitement that is unusual in the classical world. I remember one performance I had the privilege to attend which ended with seven extraordinary encores, the audience jumping to their feet, clapping wildly and cheering themselves hoarse all the way. This second video excerpt below gives an idea of the intensity that makes Kissin such an astounding and electrifying performer. He plays Prokofiev’s “La Suggestion Diabolique.”

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