OK, it wasn't a marathon of encores such as the amazing Guinness World Of Record one he gave us in Milan, but still pretty good.
(We understand that the NSA is, as we write, uploading on Rapidshare the integral recording of the show -- and also recordings of people's conversations in the foyer and the bathroom stalls. We understand that Kissin's hotel check -- what with all those suspect INROOM TV MOVIE charges -- is pretty darn funny, too: they have a nice hi-res .pdf of it!).
This past Friday night, November 10, 2006 at 9:00 pm, found me at Conservatorio “G. Verdi” for thirty-five-year-old Pianista Evgenij Kissin’s recital, organized by Fondazione La Società dei Concerti. Venue Conservatorio is fairly informal, with open seating, so people start queuing immediately. This demanded a comfortable and austere wardrobe, so I went in a basic white miu miu cotton t-shirt, a pair of Paper, Demin & Cloth indigo rinse jeans, a pair of miu miu black wedge boots, an Aspesi black windbreaker over it all, and my Chloe Paddington black bag.
Since I arrived a bit late, I was in full bum-rushing mode, and started pushing over old ladies left and right for the best seat to ogle “teh Kissin”. The auditorium is a bit intimidating, shaped with maximum acoustic delivery in mind, and therefore you feel like you are trapped inside a giant, gilled whale. After the PR director made an announcement of the details of the entire program (which he did because they had apparently run-out of issues) Kissin appeared instantly in white tie, and a matching pallid face. His demeanor was very curt, distant, and professional…and I was all like, “In Soviet Russia, piano plays YOU!”
The first piece was Franz Schubert’s four movements of Sonata in E Flat Major D.568 (Op. 122). Kissin played it sweetly, but still retained a bit of coldness beneath. Beautiful but cold, he is seriously the ice prince. His interpretation of Ludwig van Beethoven’s 32 Variation (Eroica) in C Minor W.o.O 80 was tumultuous and thunderous, quick and light, and it was definitely the highlight of the first half. Kissin kept me entertained throughout with something I came to recognize as “goldfishing”: As he progressed through the movements, he involuntary snapped at the air with his mouth - about once every ten minutes - which reminded me of a goldfish coming up for food during feeding-time; it was quite endearing.
Overall, I found the Kissin-style to be a bit sterile, a bit too perfect, too cool and too distant for me. But I recognize that this is because of my own shortcomings (which I discussed with my companion after the performance) that I continue to hold everyone up to the paradigm of DinuLipatti, who resonates epochs. As a former pianista myself (for twenty years), Lipatti is my voice, my timbre, and my mood. I can appreciate the others, but it is with Lipatti that all of my desires echo. But hey, comparing Lipatti to other pianists is like comparing your boyfriend to John Holmes. It’s just not done…
After the pause, Kissin returned from backstage, strode to the piano in his characteristic gait, and I swear this to you: his fingers connected with the keys like a heat-seeking missile to a warm target; and he began playing Brahms before his ass even touched that piano bench. That boy got mad money $kill$. For him, placing his hands on the keys is inherently more natural than placing his butt on the bench. I’ve never seen anyone launch into the pieces quicker than Kissin, and it was actually pretty hawt. Unfortunately for me, I find Brahms piano composition intolerable, especially Friday night’s selection of Brahms, his Klavierstücke opus 118. Brahms on piano to me is the boringest bore that ever bored, and I was fantasizing through this one, imagining that I was running my fingers through Kissin’s silky ‘fro. heh. kek. j/k. Clearly the sentiment was universal, as the “cough-to-silence ratio” must have tripled during the subsequent twenty-two minutes of the composition. Frédéric Chopin’s Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise brillante, Opus 22 was the highlight of the entire performance, and Kissin demonstrated his litheness and complete competence of the piano. Chopin is my most favorite piano composer like ev4r, and Kissin interpreted it much to my liking.
So there we have it: applause, applause, yay, yay, bravo, complimenti! Of course, Kissin arrives for his first encore, and we are all eager for his small gifts. Again: applause, applause, bows, flowers, bows, applause, and then another encore. This pattern continued for one hour and a half, as Kissin returned continuously for eleven more encores to play Mozart, Debussy, Liszt, Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Joplin…it was an eruption of “Piano Gold” all over that stage. Personally, I was hoping that in all this time, Kissin was stalling so that BFF Levine could show-up for a guest performance and/or duet [insert tapemeasure + afro circumference jokes here]. One of the more curious of his encores was an interpretive rendition of the Chanson Bohemienne, "Les tringles des sistres tintaient” from the beginning of Act II of Bizet's Carmen.
I don’t know why someone didn’t stop him...his agent, the musical director, the ushers…it was insanity! OMG Kissin iz da greatest. You’d betta believe dat 'cause it’s true, baby!
And I need you to remember one thing: I came, I saw, I conquered From record sales, to sold-out concerts So motherf**ker if you want this encore I need you to scream ‘til your lungs get sore (Jay-Z, The Black Album, Encore)