Evgeny Kissin plays Liszt, Sydney Opera House

Evgeny Kissin plays Chopin and Liszt ~ Sydney Opera House, September 2011

“He is a born musician and a born great pianist” – Vladimir Ashkenazy

Such is the accolade given by maestro Vladimir Ashkenazy, himself a virtuoso pianist, to Evgeny Kissin, one of the great pianists of our generation.

For a piano recital in Sydney this month, Kissin is playing the works of Liszt that includes the piano sonata in B minor, Ricordanza and Venizia e Napoli, S162.

Evgeny Kissin plays Liszt, Grieg and Chopin in Sydney, September 2011

Evgeny Kissin plays Liszt, Grieg and Chopin in Sydney, September 2011

In addition to the recital, he is also playing Grieg’s piano concerto in A minor and Chopin’s piano concerto no. 1 in E minor in two separate concerts.

Franz Liszt

Franz Liszt (22 October 1811 – 31 July 1886) was a Hungarian composer who was widely regarded by music critics to be one of the greatest if not the greatest pianist of all time.

As a composer, Liszt was prolific and composed music extensively for the piano although he also transcribed the works of other composers. The results of these transcriptions were often more creative than what Liszt or the original composer could achieve on their own.

Because of his foundation of being a technical virtuoso, his compositions are often difficult for the average musician. I particularly like interpreting his Consolation No. 3 in D flat major because the left hand plays subtle polyrhythms that subtle brings the beautiful melodic motives to life. Modulation between major and minor keys changes the mood and adds emotive colour to this piece.

As a pianist, Liszt was a virtuoso where technical brilliance became the foundation of a highly expressive style of playing. At the height of his career as a pianist, Liszt toured Europe extensively where he gave concerts which mainly consist of his own compositions, paraphrases and transcriptions.

Franz Liszt ~ a portrait by Henri Lehmann in 1839

Franz Liszt ~ a portrait by Henri Lehmann in 1839

This portrait by Henri Lehmann is my favourite and probably one of the most iconic paintings of the great composer.

Just as we celebrate Chopin’s bicentennial in 2010 last year, we will celebrate Liszt’s bicentennial next month.

Evgeny Kissin

Born on 10 October 1971 in Moscow, Evgeny Kissin was a child prodicy where at the age of eleven months, he was able to hum along to a Bach fugue that his sister was playing on the piano. By the age of four, he could play piano concertos solely from memory and began formal piano studies at the age of six at the Gnessin School of Music for Gifted Children.

Kissin is legendary for making his debut concert at the age of ten, playing Mozart’s piano concerto No. 20 in D minor. Two years later at the tender age of twelve, he played and recorded both Chopin’s piano concertos with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra to critical acclaim by critics around the world. Hence, a star is born.

His fluid style is punctuated by precise technical wizardry whilst always respecting the musical artistry of the composers’ works. He has widely interpreted the works of Chopin and Liszt and has also been highly acknowledged for recording the complete works of Beethoven’s piano concertos.

Liebestraume (Dreams of Love) No. 3 in A flat major

This is one of the most important works for solo piano by Liszt and an all-time favourite among classical music lovers around the world.

Kissin’s performance shows the importance of remaining focused on the musicality that is the hallmark of Liszt.

The thumb of the right hand becomes a beautiful singer to introduce one of the most beautiful melodic lines ever written for the piano.

Personally, I feel the inner voices of the left hand arpeggios in the B major section could have been more subtle to enhance the melody of this crescendo section towards the climax. Nevertheless, his immaculate control of harmonizing the arpeggios of both hands brings the entire piece together beautifully.

Evgeny Kissin in Sydney, September 2011

Evgeny Kissin in Sydney, September 2011

I had the honour of meeting Evgeny Kissin at the Sydney Opera House today. He tells me that his busy schedule this week has meant little time to explore and take in the beautiful sights of Sydney.

However, he has enjoyed working and collaborating with his friend and colleague Vladimir Ashkenazy, the current musical director and conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.  It is rather astonishing that between them both, they have a century of classical music experience.

Evgeny is travelling with his mother and will head to Japan after Sydney for his next series of concerts and recitals where he will also be celebrating his 40th birthday on 10 October in Tokyo.

Evgeny Kissin plays Chopin's 24 preludes

Evgeny Kissin plays Chopin's 24 preludes

I found Evgeny Kissin to be friendly and incredibly humble despite his immense talent. I have an extensive collection of his recordings and one of my favourites for solo piano is his complete recording of Chopin’s 24 preludes with a couple of bonus tracks which include the Polonaise in A flat major “Heroic”, Opus 53.

Sydney Opera House – an inspirational place for artists

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Over the years the I have lived in Sydney, I often come to the Sydney Opera House to attend concerts and recitals by world-class musicians.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

I am always in awe whenever I step into this iconic landmark of this beautiful city because of what it represents.

It is a symbol of cultural awareness, a hotbed for imagination and creativity and a home where some of the greatest musicians of our generation have performed.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

It is a beautiful spring day and we wander around the foregrounds of the Sydney Opera House and come across some quotations by artists, performers and chefs who are associated with this iconic location.

Caption outside Sydney Opera House

Caption outside Sydney Opera House

“To perform at the Opera House is just amazing. It’s a beautiful place to come to work, here on the harbour, I just love the building, it’s like home in the big house when you come back here.” – Leah Purcell

Caption outside Sydney Opera House

Caption outside Sydney Opera House

“I feel very privileged coming to work every day in one of Australia’s most famous landmarks. I never tire of looking at the grand sails of the Sydney Opera House and knowing my restaurant, Guillaume at Bennelong, resides in one of those sails, fills me with great pride.” – Guillaume Brahimi

Caption outside Sydney Opera House

Caption outside Sydney Opera House

“An iconic place with iconi events – a melting pot of talent and creativity, never boring and always new, bridging the world and connecting people!” – Terra Reeck

Caption outside Sydney Opera House

Caption outside Sydney Opera House

“It is one of the great iconic buildings of the twentieth century, an image of great beauty that has become known throughout the world – a symbol not only of a city but of a whole country and a continent.” – Pritzker Prize Jury

Caption outside Sydney Opera House

Caption outside Sydney Opera House

“Sydney Opera House reminds me of being in a boat as a child with the wind in the sails.”
- Julia Stone

Click here to view official website of Evgeny Kissin.

Sydney Opera House
Performance Enquiries & Bookings
Tel: +61 2 9250 7777
Monday to Saturday: 9am – 8.30pm AEST
Sunday: 10am – 6pm

Sydney Symphony
Box Office & Customer Service
Tel: +61 2  8215 4600

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22 Responses to Evgeny Kissin plays Liszt, Sydney Opera House

  1. Simply Life says:

    wow, that opera house is just gorgeous!

  2. alanabread says:

    oh my goodness, lucky you! i wasn’t able to make it to this concert and am seething with regret because of it. what an extraordinary man to be so humble.

  3. Sissi says:

    I have immensely enjoyed your post. So informative and so contagious: it reminds me I don’t go often enough to classical music concerts. The Russian pianist’s career and talent are impressive indeed. You must have been extremely happy to meet such a star, especially since you are one of the rare people who can appreciate his genius (I know many people go to concerts just for the celebrity’s sake). Did you know Liszt means “flour” in Hungarian? (Sorry for this useless information, but what else could I have added to such a complete post?). He looks quite similar to Chopin actually!

  4. Loved this post. Re-read it 3 times! Great photos too.

  5. Carolyn Jung says:

    My only trip to Australia (last year) and I didn’t even get to see the iconic Sydney Opera House. Wahhh! Guess that means I’ll just have to plan another visit soon. And save up my pennies to do so. ;)

  6. I always love visiting the Opera House. I was just there a couple of weeks ago to see Alan Ball talk and it’s a beautiful building! :)

  7. Elies_Lie says:

    What a great opera house!
    T for posting the story & the video – I enjoy it so much! Loves classical music too! ;)
    And I want u to know that u won an award at my site… congratulations! ;)

  8. I learned recently that Liszt was such a “rock star” in his day that he was the first pianist to perform in profile to the audience! Prior to him, they used to sit with their backs to the audience. Hard to imagine, but true! What I would give to attend this concert with Kissin – he is the real deal! Have a great time.

  9. How cool to meet him in person! And Wow… Opera House is beautiful!!!

  10. heidi says:

    I really enjoyed this post-love your informative background information.
    Liszt is one of my favorite composers- and there is something about those Hungarian
    profiles that gets to me (LOL- my husband is Hungarian!)
    Thanks for sharing.

  11. How lucky you, to have met such talent in person. Can I say, I’m envious? ;) I’ve never visited Australia. Love it’s beauty and I am awestruck anytime someone shows me Sydney’s Opera House. I want to visit there, NOW :D

  12. sugarpuffi says:

    wow Chopin’s 24 preludes!! lucky you!

  13. Celia says:

    Aren’t we lucky to have such a wonderful building in Sydney? Playing on the Opera House stage is one of my most special memories (it was a very small deal – accompanying the school choir in Year 12). :)

  14. JasmyneTea says:

    Kissin is such a great talent, and I DO love the Opera House – I’ve been to see Amanda Palmer a couple of times, it’s an awesome venue. On a side note, have you heard Tristan Allen’s “Janos Vs. Wonderland”? He’s a young kid, relatively unknown, and Palmer raised the funds for him to record his debut EP. I encourage you to look it up on youtube!

  15. Juliana says:

    I love the pictures of the opera house and how exciting being able to talk to the pianist…wonderful!
    Hope you are having a fantastic week and thank you so much sharing such a nice post :-)

  16. Wow wow wow! Now I see what you’ve hinted at. But I’d never had imagined it was so awesome! Evgeny Kissin! :D And you even talked to him! :D I so much admire a great talent, but even more when it resides within a gentle person.

  17. The Opera house is so beautiful..
    A true landmark.
    I am sure you must have had a good time.

  18. Kimby says:

    Your post reminded me of my piano teacher’s lessons — so informative, interesting and inspiring, I couldn’t wait to play. Thank you for the link and also the tour! Both were wonderful!

  19. Joanne says:

    Absolutely captivating post. I’m embarrassed to admit, I know almost nothing about music not to mention classical. If anyone were to experience the Sydney Opera house as you describe, it would most certainly inspire to expand ones musical horizons.
    Thank you for the post.

  20. wow so lucky! great photos

  21. Dolly says:

    Unfornately ive never been to a concert but performed in numerous.

    Once i attempted not to perform and just stand there and listen.. didnt sound right.

    Hopefully one day i’ll get to go to one.. thing is im not so certain which concert to pick… I love Jazz, Orchestral and Piano.. if only i knew about that famous Chinese pianist a bit earlier… i would of gone..
    :)

    Good to know you guys are music loving ppl XD

  22. ??????????? says:

    I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it
    for you? Plz reply as I’m looking to design my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from.

    many thanks

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