The triumphant return of Kissin to Rome last night
Evgeny Kissin returned to the concert platform after a year’s sabbatical refreshed,renewed and rejuvinated.
The title at the gates of the magnificent Parco della Musica just about sums up what Kissin was about to offer to Rome an “Inverno Incantato” . It was indeed just that and he was awarded a spontaneous standing ovation by a capacity audience that included Sir Anthony Pappano,Donatella Flick , Nicola Bulgari,Benedetto Lupo and many other illustrious music lovers.
A first half of classical repertoire : the Mozart little C major K.330 and Beethoven’s Appassionata op 57.
Whilst the second half was dedicated after short but magical Intermezzi op 117 by Brahms to Spanish music where he really let his hair down which led to an ever more enthusiastic audience demanding more .
Ever generous and obviously glad to be back ,a sign of real enjoyment showed not only on his face but by the ravishing sounds that he drew from the piano in The Maiden and the Nightingale and in the famous 5th Spanish dance by Granados. At this point having set the pace the recital should obviously have ended with a breathtakingly virtuoso account of Brahms Hungarian Dance in G minor in some demonic transcription reminiscent of those presented by that other super virtuoso Arcadi Volodos.
But from an imploring public visibly in delerium we were treated to a little Spanish piece full of melancholy and nostalgia . No one seemed to know what it was but does that matter when we are treated to such music that we thought we would never hear again since the passing of the great and much missed Alicia De Larrocha .The Master informs me that it was “Oriental” by Granados
The first half quite rightly was a strictly classical affair in every sense.
The beautiful little Mozart played with all the repeats that instead of lasting the usual fifteen minutes lasted almost thirty.
As with Richter and many other discerning musicians who quite rightly insist that repeats are an integral part of the structure.
I personally think there could be a compromise at least in public recitals but what does it matter when there is playing of such charm , grace and intellectual musicianship. Some of the startling changes of harmony though were not so surprising the second time around even though played with such a sense of control and colour .
The last movement could have had more wit and the bubbling enthusiasm of youth ,but the seriousness of this performance set the tone of the recital and led us into a dramatic and tautly drawn performance of the Appassionata.
Never has the contrast between the whispered opening and the explosive chords sounded so overwhelming- reminiscent of the Liszt Sonata although always in the classical style as befits the new vision of this great artist.
The last movement was played non troppo Allegro but with the driving rhythm together with a total control that had us sitting on the edge of our seat something we thought was lost with the passing of his great predecessor Emil Gilels.
Not quite the luminosity of sound in the Andante con moto but played with great sentiment but without sentimentality, a great unfolding corteo as Agosti liked to describe it, only interrupted by the astonishing chords that are so much part of the revolutionary Beethoven of this period and that takes us into the frenzy of the final movement.
The architecture of the first movement was clearly chiselled together with the unexpected changes of dynamics of this extraordinary work.
Last but not least mention must be made of his extraordinary performance of Asturias from the Suite Espanola by Albeniz.The barely audible whispering of guitar strings to the enormous build up was a tour de force of control , sense of colour and style and was followed by a virtuoso performance of Viva Navarra by Larregla .
I was expecting the famous Navarra that Rubinstein used to offer at the end of his recitals but this was another piece with the same febrile sense of excitement and it brought the official programme to a rousing ending .
A startling journey of discovery that indeed left the audience exhausted and “incantato” as the sign had shown us as we entered this hallowed hall.
Tomorrow Pappano with his magnificent orchestra on a voyage of discovery with Janine Jansen .
An unknown work to me and to most others too I believe ,of Bernstein’s Serenata dal Simposio di Platone .
Sugaring the pill for Christmas with Ravel Miroirs , La Valse and Sibelius’s extraordinary Seventh Symphony .
Music is alive and well in the Eternal City as it has never been before ,since the arrival of our knight in shining armour .