The dazzling Russian pianist releases a Beethoven album – his first solo album in a decade – to mark a new contract with DG.

After an absence of quarter of a century, Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin has returned to Deutsche Grammophon with a new, exclusive contract and an album of Beethoven sonatas scheduled for release in August.

Evgeny Kissin

Kissin’s discography already contains landmark recordings for the yellow label, among them critically acclaimed collaborations with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan and Claudio Abbado, says Deutsche Grammophon.

The new Beethoven double-disc set features a programme personally chosen by Kissin from recitals given over the past decade, and includes Piano Sonatas No 14 Op. 27 No 2, popularly known as the Moonlight Sonata, No 23 Op. 57, the Appassionata, and No 26 Op. 81a, Les Adieux. It also features the evergreen 32 Variations in C minor and a profound exploration of the sublime two-movement Piano Sonata No 32 Op. 111, the composer’s final work in the genre. The album – Kissin’s first solo recording in more than a decade – represents a major addition to his Beethoven discography and is an essential document of his artistic development.

The former child prodigy began his piano studies at age six and made his concert debut when he was just 10. Now 45, he is recognised as one of the world’s most remarkable keyboard players. Gramophone magazine called him a “Beethoven player of rare pedigree and distinction, the finest Russian-born Beethovenian since Emil Gilels”. A recent recital at London’s Barbican Centre inspired The Telegraph to describe his playing as “miraculous”, while The New York Times praised the pianist’s “blend of technical mastery and eloquent artistry” following a spellbinding performance at Carnegie Hall in 2015.

Ute Fesquet, Vice President Artists & Repertoire at DG, welcomed the opportunity to work with the pianist. “Discussing with Evgeny which Beethoven recordings to select for this album from a huge treasure trove of material was a fascinating and rewarding process,” she said. “We feel honoured and blessed that he has put his trust in us to share them with the world. It is of course no coincidence that this anthology will be released shortly after he returns to the international stage after a sabbatical with a programme featuring several key works by Beethoven.”

“These recordings were made in the moment of performance,” observes the pianist himself in DG’s artist profile. “Live recordings always surpass studio albums for me, because I feel more inspired when playing for an audience. It means a lot to me to be able to share the spirit of that live experience with others.”

Kissin, who holds British and Israeli citizenships, said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post in 2011 that the audience is of vital importance to him: “It is for them that I go on stage and play.”

“Audiences have been captivated by Evgeny Kissin’s poetic artistry, brilliant mind and fearless virtuosity for more than thirty years,” commented Dr Clemens Trautmann, President of Deutsche Grammophon. “We are delighted to continue our relationship with an artist who takes pleasure in playing for people. This is underlined by the fact that Evgeny Kissin explicitly opted for a live album – with excerpts from recitals given around the world, from New York to Seoul, Vienna to Verbier.”

“His new album records his evolving relationship with Beethoven, a composer to whom his approach is particularly suited. Rarely is the transformation of written music into an intellectual and emotional listening experience as palpable and compelling as it is with Kissin’s Beethoven.”

Evgeny Kissin’s new Beethoven album is out on Deutsche Grammophon August 25