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Tokyo prepares for feast of Kissin

by Chiho Iuchi

Classical music fans will be delighted to attend the first performances in Japan by the former child prodigy Evgeny Kissin since 2006, as the Russian pianist continues his steady rise toward virtuoso status.

Moscow native Kissin (b. 1971) began to tinker with the piano at the age of 2; entered the prestigious Moscow Gnessin School of Music at 6; made his public debut with an orchestra playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466 at 10; and gave his first solo recital in Moscow at 11.

However, Kissin’s talents first really came to international attention in March 1984, when — still aged 12 — he performed Chopin’s two piano concertos with the Moscow State Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Dmitri Kitaenko. After that, Kissin began to go global, making his British debut in 1988 with the London Symphony Orchestra under Valery Gergiev; then playing in a New Year’s Eve concert that year at the Berliner Philhamoniker under an Herbert von Karajan in his last days; and concerts in the United States with the New York Philharmonic under Zubin Metha in 1990.

His performances and recordings have received various awards, including a Triumph Award for an Outstanding Contribution to Russia’s Culture in 1997 and a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance in 2006.

Now, with his technical abilities and deep musicality, Kissin is generally regarded as being at the forefront of the next generation of the world’s pianists.

Since his Japan debut in 1985, audiences here have observed his ever-evolving performances, and in this upcoming gig they will be able to savor pieces from “Romeo and Juliet” by the Russian composer Prokofiev (one of Kissin’s specialties), as well as selected gems by Chopin, including Polonaise-Phantasie op. 61.

Evgeny Kissin Piano Recital takes place in Osaka (April 8), Yokohama (April 11), Nagoya (April 15), and at the Suntory Hall in Akasaka, Tokyo, on April 19, 23 and 26 at 7 p.m. Tickets are ¥5,000-¥18,000. Call (03) 5237-7711 or visit japanarts.co.jp/