23 February 2023

P.R. Jenkins

Karajan artists: Evgeny Kissin – the last prodigy

He is Karajan’s last discovery and the youngest remaining soloist who played under his direction: Evgeny Kissin.

“It was clear that I was not doing those things deliberately. They were happening beyond my own will simply because of Karajan’s presence, which opened some hidden potential in me.”

Evgeny Kissin

Kissin was 17 when he met Karajan and they interpreted the first Tchaikovsky piano concerto in a number of concerts in 1988/89, among them Karajan’s last concert in Berlin on New Year’s Eve. The discovery of the 17-year-old Russian boy was the start of an unparalleled career and he has been an authoritative performer of the romantic and modern repertoire ever since. Their recording of the Tchaikovsky was one of Karajan’s last recordings. Kissin later recalled: “I was seventeen and I couldn’t dictate Karajan what to do. But I managed to convince him of a compromise. Before our first rehearsal he told me he had found a source where Tchaikovsky wrote ‘too fast’ after the first performance. Karajan agreed and said to me: ‘We will make proper music!’”

“Once in my lifetime, I saw my father in tears. It was after the audition of Kissin in Salzburg. He was so moved.”

Arabel Karajan


In this clip Kissin remembers the first meeting with Karajan.

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