Evgeny Kissin: The Gift of Music

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Customer Reviews:

  • So-So Documentary, Good Concert Scenes.
    The documentary portion is nothing to write home about. Just a quick history of Kissin and his childhood. We also see a gentle interview where Kissin plays some of his original compositions. His performance at the prom is shown. A chopin heavy program, but who's complaining? He really makes the pieces look effortless. However the pieces are not shown in their entirety, but just in large fragments. This movie is definately renting if your local video store carries it. His performance of the 10th Transcendental Etude by Liszt is just unbelievable. In fact, he should release a video where he perfroms the entire set of 12 transcendental etudes....more info
  • A Few Days With a Piano Master
    This biography is a decade old now, but I still find it wonderful to watch and listen too. The sound quality of the DVD is top notch as are the performances. If you enjoy classical piano at its best, I highly recommend this. You won't be disappointed.

    The film itself focuses on the music rather than delve too deeply into the details of this wonderful pianist, although the interviews with Kissin provide some insight to his past.

    Instead, the director of this film seemingly wanted to showcase the magic of Evgeny Kissin on the job, rather than turn this into the definiative account of Evgeny Kissin the man. Think of this more as "A few days in the life of Evgeny Kissin".

    Kissin is truly one of the greats of our time. His technique is quite strong but, more importantly, it is his ability to get as close as possible to what Beethoven, Liszt and Chopin had intended when composing the notes that separates him from many other artists of our day. While listening, I found myself thinking, "So that's what Chopin was trying to say." I believe Kissin is so celebrated because of his ability to communicate the very thoughts of the composers in the notes. It is a special ability and this DVD provides us a glmpse of some of that musical genius at work, and for that, it comes highly recommended.

    ...more info
  • Mr Kissins playing is nothing but emty
    I visited a concert with mr Kissin in Stockholm a few years ago. I could barely stay awake. I then realized that popularity has nothing to do with emotionall strenght or depth, only with the superficial that stupid people are able to feel. The crowd gave their applause because of his trancendental fingermovements, and they clapped their hands because of his reputation. When the concert was over, a man shouted "Bravvoooo" just because he wanted to be the fist one to celebrate the star, and the herd followed him. The old lady beside me that had slept during the hall consert instantly flew up and shouted, because she obviously wanted to take part in something that was regarded as hip within the"cultural elite". This movie is pretty much an exampel of that. It's a circus and has nothing to do with the possibilities of the classical music....more info
  • Kissin piano music
    So, so, piano is to brilliant, Kissin rushes all the time, therae are incomplete works like Libestraum, color not that good sound too brilliant, there are better piano videos such as Bunun, Perahia an of course Horowitz not very recommended...more info
  • Excelent music and story with very bad sound synchronisation
    I like the music and very pleasant story but why there is so bad synchronisation between audio and video in English version?...more info
  • So Far, He resembles Cziffra rather than Horowitz
    Kissin is quite fluent in English and things he mentioned are all relevant. To be fair, talking occupied only about 1/3 of the total footage leaving well over an hour on the piano.

    Kissin has a sister who is some 11 years his senior learning the piano and when he was a toddler. His sister was learning Bach's Fugues and he had been listening to her all the time and could hum the tune(s). So he started early and he was allocated a special teacher after he was assessed to be a gifted child by the State, and his teacher even stayed in his home since and for some 20 years! And we have a glimse of his teacher as well as his home here in this DVD. Kissin also told us about his early experience with the piano: the first year, only some 20 min per day and then a year later an hour and then the third year, 4 hours a day.

    Most of the short pieces like Lizst and Chopin are not in the form of snippets, albeit that a small proportion of them were shot from a distance. There are quite a number of jems, judging from his age and background, one after the other, including Turkish March as arranged by Godowsky. Most of them are rather heavy encores when he played them in a promenade concert in Royal Albert Hall in one go when he was only 26 . The hall was packed with 6,000 audience-- a phenomenon in that hall for 50 years!

    As pointed out of some reviews, there isn't too much depth in the portrait. That I suppose is a soft spot for many musicians grown up in Russia behind the iron curtain: they are more concerned with the technical side than music or art, as pointed out by Ashkenazy. But Kissin is still young and he has started to play chamber music, as depicted by the clip here, with more mature musicians like Gidon Kremer and the Hagans etc with whom he'll sure progress fast.

    He also started composing early and he played two of them telling us what sort of standard he was in when he was a small boy. He also told us about his experience of stage fright...

    I've seen his Tsaichovsky with Karajan when he was around 13. From this DVD, we can see his fingers and hand position much more clearly. Very high bridge and very unique indeed. He has small hands and rather delicate fingers, but his fingers are so independent as could be seen from the way they curl or lift separately from each other when he is playing. Tachnically he is amazing if not stunning and his rhythm is clearcut or perhaps too clearcut.

    The sound as well as photography are excellent. A very good documentary indeed, and not to be missed by music lovers....more info

  • Could be so much better.
    It seems an excellent idea to put to video the life of one of the foremost pianists of the 21st century -the young, but veteran Kissin. What I had hoped to see was Kissin performing in his teens as well as the more recent footage. What we get instead is a video more worthy of the title 'Highlights of Kissin's Proms Concert in '97'. We are whisked through the childhood of Kissin and given a snippet of some chamber music and a rehearsal before the proms concert. Yet it could've been so much better! For example, It would've been nice if the interviewer had asked Kissin to play a chromatic as fast as he could, as he (Kissin) sat in front of his piano whilst being interviewed. Would that not be worth seeing? What is his answer to his critics that say he is in decline? Far too much time is devoted to showing Kissin, soaked in sweat, walking up and down the aisle giving bows between each encore. It almost becomes fascinating to watch the elderly man enthusiastically stamp on the floor in his demand for more playing. His playing is, of course, immaculate, but we already knew that. All in all, a missed opportunity....more info
  • inspiring
    this documentary shows us the life of one of the premier pianists today. we see the early stages of his learning to the present day virtuoso. it is inspiring for young pianists to see the high level of musicality and technical skill that kissin displays. though i wish that they could have shown COMPLETE works, this video very much shows the musical atmosphere that kissin creates through the music, and draws you in as if you were sitting in the front row. as a pianist, i was truly inspired!...more info
  • Kissin: Great encores, but lacks depth as a documentary.
    After watching Christopher Nupen's fairly poor documentary on Evgeny Kissin, I was left begging for more insightful information on the young Kissin. The encores at the Prom's recital was wonderful, but I must admit the entire documentary as a whole was unfortunately poorly done. Kissin only answered one important question throughout this poorly-staged interview, which was his thoughts on stage fright. I was highly disappointed when there were only still photos displayed of Kissin's youth. How about his numerous recitals when he was a young teenager? I personally have an amazing VHS tape of Kissin playing an all-Chopin program in Yokohama, Japan in 1986. I've also managed to get excerpts of then a 12 yr old Kissin playing the Chopin Piano Concerto no.1 and Mozart's Piano Concerto no.12. I also have his two "LIVE" performances of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto no.1. It's wonderful to see the young Kissin playing such difficult masterpieces with such poise and ease. Why didn't Mr. Nupen include these excerpts and some of Kissin's insights into these amazing earlier concerts! After watching this DVD, I felt robbed because I firmly believe I could've directed a better documentary than this. If it were not for the amazing footage of the encores during the Prom's recital, I would have not recommended purchasing this DVD. However, after seeing Kissin perform the fiendishly difficult Paganini/Liszt "La Campanella" and "Transcendental Etude no.10" it's worth the buy. I just hope in the future classical piano lovers will get a chance to see Evgeny Kissin's monumental performance of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto no.3 "LIVE" with Ozawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra on DVD. Unfortunately this documentary DVD doesn't contain it, or any of Kissin's amazing concerto performances. Anyhow, if you're a Kissin-fan like I am who loves "LIVE" performances then you'll want to get this DVD, otherwise save your money....more info
  • Inspirational
    If you are looking to study Kissin's life, some reviewers are correct to say that only the basics of Kissin's life are covered. But I don't think the makers of this film were out to create a documentary. I think they were also out to inspire audiences. There is a great amount of piano playing in the video, a lot of which comes from Kissin's legendary concert in Royal Albert Hall. You can hear many of the pieces played in full, including many of the encores. If you aren't INSPIRED after watching this video, there is something wrong with you. Don't buy it to become educated, buy it to become inspired....more info
  • Finally A Virtuoso for the New Millenium
    Evgney Kissin brings excitement and sparkle back to the piano. In the tradition of the great Virtuosi, Evgeny Kissin's piano playing is breathtaking, to say the least. Arguably he is the best ever, and as he matures he's a sure bet for the overall title both in performance and artistic interpretation....more info
  • Evgeny Kissin Documentary and Concert
    With a new mega pianist popping out of the woodwork every fifteen minutes or so these days, there are few indeed who possess the depth and interpretive range to go along with the dazzling technique that seems to be rather commonplace among young piano virtuosos. Evgeny Kissin, now in his thirties, is the most notable exception. His is an ability that is beyond his years. We're talking about someone who was humming classical music he heard at the age of 11 months and playing the piano with ten fingers at 18 months. Couple his talents with a very modest personality, and you have a rare artist indeed. Kissin has it all, technique to burn, a huge repertoire, and a wide range of musical interests. The highlight of the film is the extensive coverage of Kissin's 1997 BBC Proms concert, which broke all records, the audience having called Kissin back for the longest string of encores in the history of the famous concert series. Kissin plays all the encores in full. Some of the pieces are Beethoven's Rage Over the Lost Penny, 2 Chopin Waltzes and Liszt's La Campanella among others. This is a wonderful documentary/concert and I have watched it many times. If you are a pianist or a music lover you will enjoy this dvd very much.

    ...more info
  • An excellent DVD and the great traditions/interpretations go on!
    This DVD is a decided plus to your video classical music collection. First, it had the touch of Christopher Nupen who is no stranger to the realm of documentaries [check out his "We Want the Light" DVD] and of course Evgeny Kissin who I believe is an excellent interpreter of not just the war-horse pieces [Chopin in particular] but, well, hey, let me cut to the chase here, simply observe his reception by the Proms [UK] audience [1997] which I can tell you is an endorsement that can not be film-maker contrived!

    Other audiences world-wide follow suit at his remarkable pianistic abilities. Perhaps Christopher Nupen said it best in the documentary itself, "This man has a gift, of its kind, one of the finest and one of the rarest [...] at this evening's recital [in the south of France], Evgeny will play over 30,000 musical notes, all in perfect sequence, all in delicate balance and all from memory. That is a feat beyond the imagination of most people. And he will do it with a limpid clarity given to very few. [...] Not now and again but again and again."

    I like Evgeny Kissin. I like both his playing and his stage demeanor or presence if you will which, in my view, enhances the overall classical piano recital experience. I'm not a great fan of facial muggings or contorsions gone amuck for that matter [I won't go into names but I believe the reviewer Mr. Burke is with me on that one with regard to a name or indeed names therein] nor any histrionic gyrations at the piano or, quite frankly, key banging being passed off under the guise of some sort of 'tour de force' kind of thing. You know, comes the stringed instrument and 'it ain't playing unless there are broken strings!'

    So too, I'm a confirmed traditionalist [A shout from afar: "There's a revelation!"] and so I responded in kind to those of the quill fraternity who felt Evgeny's requisite and in fact traditional 'classical' artist recital bowing to the audience [and all points of same therein depending on the hall configuration] was allegedly "wooden and romantic era pass¨¦." No doubt these are the same wags who ballyhoo for classical pianist formal attire to be abandoned as well as the orchestra to boot in a sort of Friedrich Gulda 'come as you are' style. Ahhh, and speaking of which, there is Gulda doing the "Emperor" 5th piano concerto in mufti, as it were, and conducting [!?] at the same time and a lone soul claps after the first movement so when nothing is heard after the second movement, he rises from the keyboard and announces in 'die Sprache' ["the language" -- German], "Na' und?" [and so? In effect, no clap?].

    But those kind of stage antics that were unique to Friedrich Gulda [1930-2000] are one thing while Evgeny Kissin carries on the tradition of the era and its music. It has nothing to do with being a product of the "Russian school" as it does matters of appropriate demeanor and concurrently rendering the classical piece composer equal 'due' as it were. Why it seems to bother certain journalists that Evgeny still remains single and prefers to live with his family wherever he goes wholly escapes me but I suppose these journalistic types equate write-ups in the various tattle-tale or gossip inspired rags for outrageous behavior as no doubt the 'measure' of having truly arrived! Right. In effect, if there are no warts or social behavior outrages, something must be decidedly wrong!

    Altogether a first rate DVD with informative interviews and excellent playing. One doesn't 'set-up' repeated encores either. World wide. They are requested, indeed demanded, by an audience for a reason! In this case, a very good reason! Evgeny Kissin.

    Doc Tony...more info
  • Worth the price of front row seat tickets!
    Although I was unfamiliar with the name of Evgeny Kissin, and could barely pronounce his name, I became an instant fan when I watched this superb video. Unlike many documentaries, this one is 85% pure music, interspersed with bits of Evgeny's story. I did find the narrator commentary obtrusive at times, but this was minor. For anyone who loves classical music, classical piano music in particular, this DVD will become a treasure....more info
  • Leaves you in Amazement
    The only reason I gave this DVD 4 stars is because there is not enough footage of Kissin playing, and (in my opinion) too much talking! There is a lot, but I want more. :)

    Frankly, I want a DVD full of Kissin performances, not just snippets.

    Other than that, this is a great buy if you are a fan of this amazing Pianist (which is an understatement)...more info

  • It can be better
    I would have given it five stars if the interview with Kissin had been more in-depth. I expected that the interview would ask Kissin about how he looked at certain composers and music in general, or what difficulties he ever had as a prodigy and so forth. Apart from some superficial comment like "I felt a special affinity to Chopin", we know nothing more from this video about Kissin's views towards Chopin's (or other composers') music. He talked much about his teacher (and the only teacher he ever has), but did not say how she inspired him, or why he never thought of having another teacher. He quoted almost verbatim a critic's somewhat negative comments to him. But he did not say the impact of this to him. I can't help asking: so what? Why quoted it if he is not going to say or do anything about it? Of course, we ordinary people can't help feeling astonished and amused when he said he could recite the melody of Bach's fugue his sister played when he was only 11 months old. This is a gift that no one need to feel envy. But I am really disappointed that the interview cannot give more food for thought as far as music is concerned....more info
  • Mediocre at best
    As others have mentioned, the interview is absolutely senselessly horrible. With such bad questions, it's a wonder Kissin was even able to come up with something to say. As a documentary, this thing isn't even worth watching!

    Kissin is well over-rated as a pianist. Oh, he has a certain level of virtuosity which is difficult to obtain (I play a little myself) but I was actually very very disappointed by his playing. After watching pianists like Lang Lang (Live at Carnegie Hall) and Yundi Ll, Kissin actually pales in comparison at a similar age. I don't even want to compare him to someone like Horowitz or Rubinstein, since they are in a different league all together. His Chopin is worth a look, but of course the footage detracts from his performance. I bought the DVD to see Kissin's technique and to get a sense of his performance. Yet through at least half of the film you either a) don't see his hands, b) see his hands from far far away, or c) you get the quarter or half of the piece he's playing cut off. For example, we only see the second half of Liszt's "Liebestraum" and Chopin's Nocturne (Op.27 No.2)! What's the point?

    There is some good footage in there which is worth seeing if you, for some reason, are a fan of Kissin. He is by no means a bad pianist, but he is by no means a great one. Kissin's attempt at "La Campanella" is absolutely nothing in comparison to Li. Kissin can play the notes, but he doesn't give one a sense of the amazing virtuosity of Liszt like Li seems to. I also saw a clip of Kissin playing a Scriabin Etude (Op. 8 No. 12) which is not on this DVD. As an example, it doesn't leave much open for interpretation, but after hearing Horowitz play it, Kissin really is just banging his hands on the piano. On this DVD, you see a few similar attempts at virtuosity, which I have no other footage to compare to. In my opinion, all of those attempts failed (in my opinion). He can play the notes, yes. But his playing is quite hollow.

    I don't see what all the fuss is about . . . he has some good Chopin, but if you're just looking for some good performance footage like I am, this is not the place to find it....more info


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