- Piano Sonata No. 1 in F sharp minor ("Grosse Sonate"), Op. 11
- Carnaval for piano, Op. 9
Schumann is apparently one of Evgeny Kissin's specialties -- the 31-year-old Russian virtuoso has already recorded the Concerto, Phantasie, Symphonic Etudes, and Kreisleriana. On this all-Schumann disc, he presents one of the composer's best-loved works alongside a relatively neglected masterpiece. The F-sharp Minor Sonata, Op. 11, sounds remarkably fresh, not just because it is rarely performed but also because in terms of its structure and content, it is consistently original and engaging. Note, for example, the way the passionate introduction gradually accelerates into the marchlike theme of the first-movement allegro; or take in the intimate, songlike character of the slow movement. Carnaval is a staple of the pianist's repertoire, on the other hand, yet one never tires of it, perhaps because it is so full of moods and emotions that every hearing reveals new beauties. Kissin's playing is dazzling in its virtuosity and full of felicitous touches. Perahia (Sony) finds greater warmth in the Sonata, and Carnaval might have benefited from a more delicate touch here and there. But in general, Kissin's playing leaves one shaking one's head in disbelief; his technique is simply unassailable.