"I must confess, the first time I heard Evgeny Kissin's interpretation of this formidable concerto, I was left disappointed. At the time, Martha Argerich's recording was the best in my mind. Like many of the reviewers here, I felt Kissin's performance was painfully slow at the opening of the first movement, and especially so in the opening of the third. After hearing several versions of this concerto, I know longer consider Argerich's to be the best (It's still up there, though). Rather, I have learned to appreciate the more poetic version Kissin presents. Don't let other reviewers fool you; there are still plenty of fireworks in this recording. Kissin's performance of the cadenza in the first movement is astounding, huge sound and very passionate. The whole second movement has a great, sweeping sound, with perfect phrasing. And the third is flashy, but with a slower tempo. This solemn recording is exactly how Rachmaninoff envisioned it. Other great recordings of this concerto are by Mikhail Pletnev and Olga Kern (STAY AWAY FROM THE RECORDINGS BY LANG LANG AND DAVID HELFGOTT)."
He's a great one
Beethoven | 07/08/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Like other reviewers, this recording is the best performance of the Rach 3 that I own. I have about 5 recordings, and the other 4 recordings seem to be out of Kissin's league. Listen to the powerful cadenza of the first movement, which is definitely the better cadenza of the two available. Kissin plays this with so much power, passion, and accuracy than any other recording I've heard. His technique should not be taken for granted because missed notes can be very distracting. There are very few things about his performance that I disagree with, and I imagine that I will steal several of his ideas when I attempt to learn it. Kissin seems to have a knack for knowing exactly how long to hold on to certain beats and how to make the melody soar like an eagle. The recordings of his encores are also two of the best recordings I've heard. The arrangement of "Vocalise" was very well transcribed--I prefer it over the original for voice--and the performer was the perfect translator. The B-flat Prelude was a perfect conclusion for such an emotionally powerful recording. This CD is definitely one of my most valuable posessions."
The REAL 'Ultimate Rach 3'
Jon Brodersen | Marquette, MI USA | 08/16/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Evgeny Kissin is another one of the great young musical virtuosos of today that go terribly over-looked. He plays with both finesse and fire, and interprets the music in a divine way. This recording of the Rach 3 is a beautiful example of Kissin's mastery of his instrument, the composer's overall style, and the work itself.
I compare this recording with that of Martha Argerich's over-rated recording of the same concerto, which I stick my tongue out at, so to speak, in the title of this review. My problem with Argerich's recording is her numerous amount of mistakes throughout the piece, as she tries to break the world record for speed. She fails at this, because it still is not as fast as Rachmaninoff played the piece, so all-in-all, her try is a lost cause (I go in to better detail on my review of that CD, which can be found on the Amazon.com page).
Kissin's Rach 3 has gone under scrutiny because of his tempi, both in the first and third movements. I don't see why this is such a bad thing, because with the slower tempo, he can actually play every note that was meant to be played, and can be clearly heard. Yes, his first movement is about 3 minutes longer than Argerich's, but honestly, the listener must be patient, because though Kissin takes longer to say what Argerich blurts out, you can finally understand the piece, and hear it for what truly lies beneath the notes on the page.
Do not let this reviewer fool you, however, Kissin can really fly when he gets going. The only reason that his interpetation is longer is because he takes the first theme slower than usual, and keeps that same tempo every time it comes back. And if listeners would just disregard how many minutes it takes for Who to do What, they won't even notice that Kissin's is slower.
He also incorporates the highly-neglected alternate cadenza in his recording, which is much longer than the one that most other pianists use (eg., Argerich or Ashkenazy). This cadenza (often referred to as the 'Ossia Cadenza') is so much better than the other. It builds for a long time, using huge runs, and giant chords, which captivate the listener, and will literally make you jump out of your chair with excitement. Then, after a little while, the main theme is presented yet again in the most glorious and grandiose way, with massive chords, jumping all around the keyboard. It truly is incredible, and I will never know how he can do it. After listening to this cadenza, the listener will wonder, as I do, why any pianist who can master this monster of a piece would actually choose to play something as lifeless, and somewhat laughable, as the other one.
The second movement is full of passion and will tear the listener's heart right out, as it should, and when the time is right, switches to playful and skittery, until slowing down again to the end. Kissin does this perfectly. Then, out of nowhere, a giant build-up, commanded by the piano, and with a few tutti chords, the whirlwind of the third movement begins, and is a literal race to the end. The coda is down-right gorgeous, and I get chills every time I hear it. When the piece finally blasts its last few notes, the audience erupts at once, which will definitely wake up the listener, and remind them that this is a LIVE recording. Rarely does one find a live recording this spectacular.
Finally, I would remiss if I did not mention the Boston Symphony Orchestra, under Seiji Ozawa's baton. Never will you find a moment where they are at all separated from one another (Unlike Argerich and Chailly with the RIAS Symphony, where they are often not together). The Boston Symphony flows beautifully with Kissin, and compliments him exceptionally well.
This is one of my favorite pieces of music, and I have studied the score immensely, so yes, I actually do know what I'm talking about, and this IS the absolute best recording I have found so far. It is definitely on top of the stack of Rach 3's I have piling up, and I think it will stay there for quite some time.
Bravo, Kissin. Bravo!!!"
Best pianist alive today!
Josh Simpson | Hico, TX. | 12/21/1998
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I belive Kissin is the best alive today. I have listened to many people and I believe that. He plays the "Rach 3" better than any other recording I've ever heard. He even plays the optional cadenza's in movement 3. What's so amazing it that he does it all live! I wish I could've heard this live! I gave it 4 stars just because the quality wasn't quite as good as it would've been in a studio. That's being picky though."