Evgeny Kissin was born in Moscow in October 1971 and began to play by ear and improvise on the piano at the age of two. At six years old, he entered a special school for gifted children, the Moscow Gnessin School of Music, where he was a student of Anna Pavlovna Kantor, who has remained his only teacher. At the age of ten, he made his concerto debut playing Mozart's Piano Concerto K. 466 and gave his first solo recital in Moscow one year later. He came to international attention in March 1984 when, at the age of twelve, he performed Chopin's Piano Concertos 1 and 2 in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory with the Moscow State Philharmonic under Dmitri Kitaenko. This concert was recorded live by Melodia, and a two-LP album was released the following year. During the next two years, several Kissin performances in Moscow were recorded live and five more LPs were released by Melodia.
Kissin's first appearances outside Russia were in 1985 in Eastern Europe, followed a year later by his first tour of Japan. In 1987 he made his West European debut at the Berlin Festival. In 1988 he toured Europe with the Moscow Virtuosi and Vladimir Spivakov and also made his London debut with the London Symphony Orchestra under Valery Gergiev. In December of the same year he performed with Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic in a New Year's concert which was broadcast internationally, with the performance repeated the following year at the Salzburg Easter Festival. Audio and video recordings of the New Year's concert were made by Deutsche Grammophon.
In 1990 Kissin made his first appearance at the BBC Promenade Concerts in London and that same year made his North American debut, performing both Chopin piano concertos with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Zubin Mehta. The following week he opened Carnegie Hall's Centennial season with a spectacular debut recital, which was recorded live by BMG Classics.
Musical awards and tributes from around the world have been showered upon Kissin. In 1987 he received the Crystal Prize of the Osaka Symphony Hall for the best performance of the year 1986 (which was his first performance in Japan ). In 1991 he received the Musician of the Year Prize from the Chigiana Academy of Music in Siena, Italy . He was special guest at the 1992 Grammy Awards Ceremony, broadcast live to an audience estimated at over one billion, and became Musical America 's youngest Instrumentalist of the Year in 1995. In 1997 he received the prestigious Triumph Award for his outstanding contribution to Russia's culture, one of the highest cultural honors to be awarded in the Russian Republic , and again, the youngest-ever awardee. He was the first pianist to be invited to give a recital at the BBC Proms (1997), and, in the 2000 season, was the first concerto soloist ever to be invited to play in the Proms opening concert. In May 2001 Kissin was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music by the Manhattan School of Music. In December 2003 in Moscow, he received the Shostakovich Award, one of Russia 's highest musical honors. In June 2005, he was awarded an Honorary Membership of the Royal Academy of Music in London . He was recently awarded the 2005 Herbert von Karajan Music Prize.
Mr. Kissin's recordings have also received numerous awards and accolades, having contributed significantly to the library of masterpieces recorded by the world's greatest performers. Past awards have included the Edison Klassiek in The Netherlands, Grammy awards, and the Diapason d'Or and the Grand Prix of La Nouvelle Academie du Disque in France.
The beginning of the 2010-2012 season sees engagements in major cities across Europe, including London, Milan, Paris, Salzburg, Vienna, and many more. He will then embark on an extensive North American tour which includes recitals, orchestral appearances, and chamber music concerts with Yuri Bashmet.
The Emerson String Quartet has maintained its stature as one of the world's premier chamber music ensembles for more than four decades. The quartet has made more than 30 acclaimed recordings, and has been honored with nine Grammys® (including two for Best Classical Album), three Gramophone Awards, the Avery Fisher Prize, and Musical America's "Ensemble of the Year". The Emerson frequently collaborates with some of today's most esteemed composers to premiere new works, keeping the string quartet art form alive and relevant. They have partnered in performance with stellar soloists including Reneé Fleming, Barbara Hannigan, Evgeny Kissin, Emanuel Ax and Yefim Bronfman, to name a few.
During the 2018-2019 season the Emerson continues to perform as the quartet in residence at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. for its 40th season and returns to perform with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. The group's North American appearances include a performance at New York's Alice Tully Hall, and appears around North America that include the Library of Congress in Washington DC, Denver, Vancouver, Seattle, Houston, Indianapolis, Detroit, the Yale School of Music and University of Georgia, among others. The quartet also embarks on two European tours, performing in major venues in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. During the summer of 2019, the Emerson will perform at Tanglewood, Ravinia, and the Aspen Music Festivals.
Other North American highlights include subsequent performances of Shostakovich and The Black Monk: A Russian Fantasy, the new theatrical production co-created by the acclaimed theater director James Glossman and the Quartet's violinist, Philip Setzer. The music/theater hybrid, co-commissioned by the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Princeton University and Tanglewood Music Festival, has been presented at the Ravinia Music Festival, Wolf Trap, and in Seoul, South Korea. In spring 2019, the quartet will reprise this work at Stony Brook University and the Orange County Performing Arts Center. In a bold intersection of chamber music and theater starring David Strathairn/Len Cariou andJay O. Sanders/Sean Astin with the Emerson String Quartet, the audiences witness the trials of Dmitri Shostakovich's 40-year obsessive quest to create an opera based on Anton Chekhov's mystical tale: The Black Monk.
The Emerson's extensive recordings range from Bach to Harbison, including the complete string quartets of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Bartok, Webern and Shostakovich, as well as multi-CD sets of the major works of Haydn, Mozart, Schubert and Dvorak. The ensemble has also recorded music by Tchaikovsky, Smetana, Debussy, Ravel, Barber and Ives. In April 2017, the Emerson released its latest album, Chaconnes and Fantasias: Music of Britten and Purcell, the first CD issue on the new label, Decca Gold. The Quartet has commissioned and performed new works from composers such as Thomas Adés, Kaija Saariaho,Wolfgang Rihm, Mark-Anthony Turnage, and Edgar Meyer.
Formed in 1976 and based in New York City, the Emerson was one of the first quartets whose violinists alternated in the first chair position. The quartet, which took its name from the American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, balances busy performing careers with a commitment to teaching and serves as Quartet-in-Residence at Stony Brook University. In 2013, cellist Paul Watkins, a distinguished soloist, award-wining conductor, and devoted chamber musician, joined the original members of the Emerson Quartet. The reconfigured group has been praised by critics and fans alike around the world. In spring 2016, full-time Stony Brook faculty members Philip Setzer and Lawrence Dutton received the honor of Distinguished Professor, and part-time faculty members Eugene Drucker and Paul Watkins were awarded the title of Honorary Distinguished Professor. The Emerson had previously received honorary doctorates from Middlebury College, the College of Wooster, Bard College and the University of Hartford. In January 2015, the Quartet received the Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award, Chamber Music America's highest honor, in recognition of its significant and lasting contribution to the chamber music field.
The Emerson Quartet enthusiastically endorses Thomastik strings.
"The Emerson performances represented an extraordinary fusion of experience and authority with audacity and freshness."
- The Boston Globe
"... with musicians like this there must be some hope for humanity." - The Times (London)
Interview with Evgeny Kissin & ESQ for Festspielhaus Baden-Baden
Grammy-winning musicians Evgeny Kissin and the Emerson String Quartet join forces for their debut collaborative album, captured live at a sold out Carnegie Hall concert, to be released on Deutsche Grammophon this Friday, April 12. The first track off of the album, the third movement from Dvořák's Piano Quintet No. 2 in A Major op. 81, is available now.
Capturing a rare performance of one of the world's most acclaimed pianists as a chamber musician, this live album is a new gem in DG's vast catalog.
The rehersal and preparation process for the recording created space for a true meeting of minds, allowing Kissin and the Emersons to preserve their individual characteristics while revealing qualities unique to their collaboration. Ideas tested in the rehearsal room were subsequently forged in the heat of performance, unleashing elemental shifts between Classical heroism and Romantic introspection, and drawing out points of dramatic tension and release. Everything flowed, nothing became fixed as Kissin and the Emersons moved from one concert to the next. Last year's performances "were the highlights of [their] season," notes ESQ's Eugene Drucker.
Pianist Evgeny Kissin returns from a two-year sabbatical a refreshed and more thoughtful artist, a phenomenon some of us who admired the young Van Cliburn wished he had experienced. On 27 April 2018. Kissin and the Emerson String Quartet – Philip Setzer and Eugene Drucker, violins; Lawrence Dutton, viola; Paul Watkins, cello – who had been touring internationally with Kissin, collaborated for a powerful evening of chamber ensemble in New York City's Carnegie Hall. The addition of cellist Paul Watkins – replacing David Finckel – centers the Emerson Quartet upon a dark-toned, burnished sound equally committed to sonic luxury.
READ THE FULL Audiophile Audition REVIEW BY Gary Lemco
Crossover Media Projects with: Evgeny Kissin & Emerson String Quartet