Evgeny Kissin was born in Moscow in 1971, and began to play the piano by ear and improvise pieces by the age of two. With six years, he entered a special school for gifted children, the Moscow Gnessin School of Music, where he studied with Anna Pavlovna Kantor, who has remained his only teacher. At the age of ten, Mr. Kissin 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. He has been thrilling audiences ever since.
All the hallmarks of his genius — and one does not use the word lightly — were on display: the rich, sonorous tone, the dazzling fingerwork and, above all, the inspired fantasy. So compelling is Kissin's pianism, so fresh his response to even the most familiar phrases, that one hangs on every note. The end of the slow movement found me gripping the armrest of my seat, mesmerized by the poetry of his reading. The Times, 10th May 1999