Meet the musical wunderkind of our age, pianist Evgeny Kissin. Born in Moscow in 1971, Kissin aged 12 performed both Chopin piano concertos in the Moscow Conservatory, something unattempted since the turn of the century. News of this prodigy of the Soviet state music system spread rapidly outside Russia, and at 17 he was invited by Herbert von Karajan to play Tchaikovsky, followed by a historic Carnegie Hall debut under Zubin Mehta in 1990. A year later Kissin left Russia, and has since performed with many of the world’s great conductors and orchestras.
Amongst his peers Kissin commands awed respect, and other pianists fill his concerts. But few musicians who are superb artists also break through to a wider public. Part of the fascination is his mastery of the instrument, but also his musicality: as the great Martha Argerich has insisted, his interpretations stand entirely on their own.
Kissin will discuss virtuosity and spirituality in music, the composers who have mattered most to him (Chopin and Rachmaninoff, whom he so often performs; or Bach, whom he never performs) and fellow artists: pianists Emil Gilels and Sviatoslav Richter, singer Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, conductors Carlos Kleiber and Karajan.
For Kissin, performance is an act of creation on stage, and audiences are a significant part of this process. His idea of himself as an artist has always included the wider world: he has freely expressed his views, often playing in support of causes – whether the preservation of a building or of the democratic process in the country of his birth.
But there is ‘a country not to be found on any geographical map: this country is called music.’Join us for an evening rich in archival footage, during which Evgeny Kissin will explore the territory in conversation with Gilead Cooper, to mark the publication of Memoirs and Reflections, Kissin’s vividly personal account of a life in and beyond music, including the people and events that have nurtured and challenged him.