Another opportunity to see Alan Yentob’s superbly insightful and myth-dispelling programme about the tortures and the triumphs of making it as a concert pianist. With contributions from Benjamin Grosvenor (aged 12), Stephen Hough, Evgeny Kissin, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Joanna Macgregor, Lang Lang, and rare interviews by Arthur Rubenstein. Available via the BBC iPlayer here…….and a taster from YouTube
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I caught the tail-end of this last night. What you wrote about the young Grosvenor on my post of several months ago was absolutely right – quite the little show-off! And “I’m behind Kissin [or whoever it was] – he played the Chopin concertos at 12, but I’m not doing them until next Autumn!” But I was just the same at his age (though slightly less well endowed in terms of technique, if I may be modest for a moment), and he has adjusted well in the intervening years (and no longer has that speech impediment either…).
He did come across as a rather unlikeable lispy hobbit. But clearly he is mellowing as he matures. Kissin’s an odd-ball, isn’t he? Rather robotic, but maybe it’s just the language barrier. Even Lang Lang is quite attractive in this programme – he reveals some surprising insights into the music.
I wondered if Kissin had Aspergers at first – he seemed to have a great deal of difficulty in making eye contact. Then he reminded me of the character in ‘Shine’ a little and I thought it was ironic when he said ‘my parents criticised me – they brought me up the correct way’. I thought there was something definitely troubling that guy. What a pianist though, eh? I’m going to look on Amazon and see if he has any recordings of the best of Chopin.
I agree about Kissin – very odd. But maybe it’s just the language barrier? I can recommend his recordings of Chopin’s Ballades & Impromptus: just the right balance between perfect technique & artistry.