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Evgeny Kissin
SCHUBERT: PIANO SONATA IN B-FLAT, D.960; SCHUBERT-LISZT: FOUR SONGS; LISZT, MEPHISTO WALTZ NO.1
(RCA Red Seal)
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Evgeny Kissin turns in one of the fussiest performances of Schubertís great posthumous sonata to be heard in recent years. Barely a phrase goes by in the first movement where the pianist doesnít insert little pauses and ritards in an effort to make you believe that this is a profoundly introspective and moving work. Which it is, of course, but you donít need a mannered performance style to tell you that. Flexibility is one thing; Kissinís playing all but obliterates the musicís architecture. The paradox is that when the big moments arrive, they sound flat and unemotional. The second movement, taken at a snailís pace, is beautifully played but lacks any sort of musical flow. Things get marginally better in the final two movements, but itís not enough to redeem this unsatisfying performance. Stick with Richter, Pollini, Goode, or any number of better-conceived readings. The arrangements of Schubert songs go better, and thereís some nifty fingerwork in the Liszt. Kissin is due to play a Schubert duo recital with new BSO music director James Levine next season, and if the evidence of this disc is anything to go by, one hopes that the conductor will have the upper hand.

BY DAVID WEININGER


Issue Date: May 28 - June 3, 2004
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