Chopin, Piano Concertos, E. Kissin, Moscow Philharmonic, D. Kitayenko (recorded live in 1984, when Kissin was 12 years old)
The Russian pianist, who has made a name performing the Chopin concertos since he was a child, did not disappoint. Kissin played with his accustomed technical mastery, with only one obtrusive note not struck precisely head-on out of a very long work. The phrasing was immaculate, and all the soft and delicate parts set off by carefully scaled dynamic contrasts, well supported by NSO principal conductor Iván Fischer, who helped contain the orchestral sound until the outbursts that were needed. The second movement was rhapsodic, with a gentle, tender opening that took the listener into another internal world (we saw Tiberghien, leaning his head on the box railing, lost in thought). The slow movement's gorgeous conclusion had barely dispersed when the subsequent Allegro vivace commenced, a dramatic finale capped by a fluid, flawless coda.
Anne Midgette, Start of NSO Season Is at Once Colorful and Lackluster (Washington Post, September 28)
Glinka's overture to Russlan and Ludmilla and that omnipresent gala piece, the Blue Danube Waltz, sufficed for their purpose, although I, for one, would not have missed all those repeats observed in the Strauss. The one odd note was the choice of Richard Strauss's Salome's Dance, adapted from what is still one of the most shocking, even stomach-churning sequences of events in opera. Can this piece really ever be something one hears while sipping champagne and speculating about the economic recovery? As the "Er ist schrecklich" (he is hideous!) theme was floated on a big Romantic waltz, the grotesquerie of the programming choice was palpable.
Iván Fischer's next Hungarian-centered program will combine Bartók's complete score for the ballet The Wooden Prince and Beethoven's sixth symphony (October 1 to 3).