Making a rare sortie into chamber music, Evgeny Kissin teamed up with the Emerson String Quartet at Carnegie Hall. In Mozart’s groundbreaking G-minor Piano Quartet, Kissin and the required Emerson members, Philip Setzer leading, responded to the music’s poignant intensity with uncommon mastery and style. The players exhibited spontaneous rapport, maintaining a lively dialogue and dovetailing their lines with instinctive grace, Kissin displaying a wonderful singing tone, phrasing Mozart’s graceful melodies with extraordinary elegance, matched by the strings in attention to detail, while the vigor and passionate elements of the music were amply expressed.
Fauré’s enchanting C-minor Piano Quartet, now with Eugene Drucker, received a vibrant and elegant performance, Kissin’s vivid rendition aptly matched by the polish of the strings. Together they brought an extraordinary unanimity of passion and expression to the more introspective sections of the opening movement and the Adagio, the sunnier themes of the sparkling Scherzo, and the exhilarating melodies of the Finale.
Such energy and passion carried into Dvořák’s Opus 81. Composed at the peak of his career and crafted with consummate skill, it encompasses a breathtaking range of themes and illustration, and received a vivid and sensitive account that did full justice to the grandeur and expressive lyricism. The opening Allegro was performed with great conviction and the many mood-shifts of the second-movement ‘Dumka’ were appropriately abrupt and dramatic. The Scherzo (a furiant) was full of robust lyricism, while the whirlwind Finale was marked by tremendous fire and vivacity, so too the encore, the fantastic Scherzo from Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet, Opus 57.