Evgeny Kissin - Barbican, 5 June 2009
Prokofiev 3 Pieces from Romeo and Juliet - Juliet, Mercutio, Montagues and Capulets; Sonata No 8
Chopin Polonaise-Fantasie; Mazurkas Op 30 No 4, Op 41 No 4 and Op 59 No 1; Études Op 10 Nos 1,2,3,4 and 12, Op 25 Nos 5,6 and 11.
Encores: Chopin Nocturne Op 27 No 2; Prokofiev 4 Pieces Op 4 No 4; Schubert arr.Liszt Soirées de Vienne Valse-Caprice No 6
Evgeny Kissin's forthright, pugilistic pianism and Russian heritage ought to make him the perfect Prokofiev interpreter. But for all his technical fluency, stamina and precision articulation there was a wearying air of bash-by-numbers about his Friday night performance at the Barbican. His Romeo and Juliet selection lacked the rich colouring of their orchestral counterpart; the 'War' Sonata was dutifully accurate, but little more. Never mind - the capacity audience, expanded by several rows on the platform, whooped and hollered anyway.
Kissin's introspective exhibitionism found a more satisfying outlet in Chopin. His Polonaise-Fantasie was unduly mechanical. But his loud Mazurkas were crisply turned, and a firework display of the flashiest Études drew out surprisingly subtleties.
But it was only the last of his three encores, a Schubert/Liszt Valse-Caprice of almost huggable charm, that showed there's more to Kissin than brain and fingers.