Taken out of context, certain phrases of this review could be construed as "raves." What fingers! What a beautiful, prismatic tone! The crowd swooned! It is impossible to miss Kissin's obvious prowess, but it simply can't be divorced from this sorry conception of the concerto. Rachmaninoff's stirring, martial rhythms are transformed into an elegant dirge. Amidst the bloated, massed strings, you can hear every note in slow motion; the phrasing is sounded out as if the live audience were deaf. After the ringing applause, Kissin plays a dull Vocalise before (finally) igniting in the Prélude. That closing bit of panache only shows how much we were gypped.
Copyright © 1998, Robert J. Sullivan