The Classics: November 20

Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Numbers 3, 14, 23, 26, 32; 32. Variations in C Minor.  Evgeny Kissin (piano). Deutsche Grammophon,  2 CDS.

Evgeny Kissin entranced international audiences in the 1980s, skyrocketing to fame as a pianist sensation. In his teens he delighted with his playing of romantic masterworks and he has become since then one of the world’s highly acclaimed performers. Now, after a break of 25 years, he has signed a new exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon and launched it with this double disc, the contents personally chosen by the soloist from recitals given in the past decade.

Kissin’s first solo recital recording in more than a decade represents a major addition to his Beethoven discography. The 48 tracks include some of the composer’s most loved solo piano works such as the No.14 "Moonlight", No23 "Appassionata" and No26 "Les Adieux" Sonatas, plus the evergreen 32 Variations on an original theme in C minor. The latter particularly shows his mastery of detail and the architecture of each variation, with their various moods and passions. Each one is crafted in exquisite fashion.

"These recordings were made in the moment of performance,"  Kissin says.

"Live recordings always surpass studio albums for me, because I feel more inspired when playing for an audience. It means a lot to me to be able to share the spirit of that live experience with others."

This double album is promised as the first in a series of releases renewing the relationship with Kissin. Born to a Russian-Jewish family in Moscow, he is now aged 45, written an autobiography and married a childhood friend.

Verdict: Beethoven gems delight.

- Geoff Adams

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