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PERFORMING ARTS: CLASSICAL MUSIC, DANCE, OPERA | RECORDINGS

*** BEETHOVEN: Piano Concertos Nos. 2 in B-flat and 5 in E-flat ("Emperor"). Evgeny Kissin, piano; James Levine, conductor, Philharmonia Orchestra. (Sony Classics)

September 28, 1997|Daniel Cariaga

The young Russian virtuoso has proved disconcertingly erratic and willful in some of his live performances. Here he displays only well-considered, solid, clean-limned readings essaying Beethoven's exposing and familiar showpieces in flat-signatured keys. The graceful charms so beloved in the B-flat work may be in short supply, but not its pristine articulation and sense of understated elegance. The "Emperor" can rise to more emotional heights, with a more leonine and compelling level of urgency, than Kissin and Levine actually achieve. Even so, within their chosen mellow context, the collaborators bring to it genuine authority and accomplished polish.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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