People We Should Know #6 : Evgeny Kissin

     Child Prodigy is an overused description for almost any child showing unusual talent or potential.  The candidates extend from three year old Tiger Woods showing  a classic golf swing on the Michael Douglas show to the various Lil’ Orphan Annies’ belting out “Tomorrow” on a Broadway revival.  The true test is really the development of adult level interpretative capacity and technical skill at an age associated with the superficial emotional depth and life experiences of youth, and no place is this more aptly expressed as in the classical music genre, particularly the classical piano.  Interestingly our greatest pianists often studied in obscurity until a performance break exhibited their prodigious talents, and often required years of mundane musical years in the “wilderness” before becoming identified as superb interpreters of the piano compositional canon.  In a very few cases, the spectacular potential of youthful prodigy becomes fully realized in adult form in a continuous path, and one such prodigy is Evgeny Kissin.

     Mr. Kissin is in 2010 only 39 years old, but has been recognized as one of the foremost interpreters of the late romantic piano literature since age 12.  It is a strange capacity that allows a twelve year old to have unique interpretative powers and such affinity for the music, and no scientist is likely to be able to specifically represent the portions of the brain that allow such a gift.  In Mr. Kissin’s situation, it was as if he was born with the adult emotional latice to provide definitive versions of composers such as Chopin and Rachmaninoff, so profoundly expressed that one wonders if the religious concept of re-incarnation and the spirit of Liszt himself found a home in Evgeny’s body.  What ever the source of such genius, Kissin has managed to maintain and expand on his youthful powers and become as an adult one of the foremost performers on the classical stage seen in the last 100 years. Born in 1971 in the former Soviet Union, Kissin was already recognized at age ten as a profoundly special talent, and at age 13 had an international best selling performance recording of the Chopin Piano Concertos.  In his twenties and thirties he has performed  with every A-rated orchestra in the world and is among the most sought after performers in our time.  In an age where fifteen minutes of fame provide fleeting veneers of supposed genius capacity, Evgeny Kissin has lived up to and surpassed any estimation of his potential and is a modern musical Prometheus that will be for decades to come one of the People We Should Know.

    Enjoy Evgeny Kissin’s performance of Chopin at age 12, age 15, and recently Rachmaninoff:

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