When they were young: Vengerov, Kissin, Repin in 1988

When they were young: Vengerov, Kissin, Repin in 1988


norman lebrecht

December 18, 2020

Rare video of a Soviet export concert in Hamburg, newly uploaded to Youtube.



  • mel says:

    These are fun, though my favourite remains the clip of Kissin playing Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No 1 with baby Nakariakov on solo trumpet.

  • Petros LInardos says:

    How is the music education system holding up now, in post-Soviet days?

  • Edgar Self says:

    A touching photo, charming, before the storms of life: 32 years on, Kissin in his 40s no longer lives with his childhood piano teacher and has married to everyone’s relief; Vengerov has survived kinetic problems and is conducting; Repin I’ll have to look up.

    Vengerov’s problems were predictable. At a CSO rehearsal in his 20s, he stood feet apart, arms and violin straight down until his entry, when he whipped it up to his chin and bowed with neck stretched looking straight up at the ceiling, putting strain on neck and back. Playing violin is a physical challenge at best. When he led Shostakovich quartets with Yuri Bashmet, Rostropovich, and CSO concertmaster Samuel Magad in 1999, he sat sensibly looking at his part, as did Slava, though his was ablaze with red markings.

  • Sheila Novitz says:

    How can you call Evgeny Kissin “Jewgenij” ? Disgusting racism.

    • Aged Listener says:

      Can you possibly be serious? “Jewgenij” is just the German transliteration of the Russian name that comes out as “Yevgeny” in English, and is pronounced in the same way. It has nothing whatever to do with being Jewish. “Jew” is not a word in German.

    • violin accordion says:

      Prokofiev correct spelling is Prokofjew

  • Pedro says:

    This is certainly earlier than 1988. Kissin was born in 1971. I have heard him in 1988 with Karajan in Berlin and he looked older than in this video.

  • sam says:

    1) Kissin at 15 (video must have been made in 1987 not 1988, because in 1988 he would’ve been at least 16, was already touring London with Gergiev and about to do Berlin with Karajan) was already an old pro, having toured Japan, on a solo recital in 1985, and playing the Tchaikovsky piano concerto in 1986 with a young (and still toothpick-less) Gergiev conducting.

    2) Age difference aside, is Kissin really taller than Vengerov?

    3) Do the Germans really transliterate “Евгений” (Кисин) as “Jewgenij” (Kissin)?

  • Kenny says:

    I firmly believe that Vengerov in the 90s and Tetzlaff always are the two best violinists I ever heard live. (I missed Heifetz by a bit.)

  • Kenny says:

    And what an adorable photo. They all still look pretty much like that (ok, MV not so much now).

  • Micaela Bonetti says:

    Che tenerezza vedere ed udire un ragazzino di nome Maxim, che bell’artista, già a quei tempi!
    (Questa commozione, la posso esprimere solo nella mia lingua materna.)

  • MacroV says:

    Pretty amazing playing. Now we know where Jerry Seinfeld got the idea for his “puffy shirt” episode.

  • JB Vio says:

    Some talent that…

  • CYM says:

    I was always wondering and suspicious of child prodigies, often noticing decline and obscurity years after the thrill and amazement ‘circus style’ of their early talents.
    – Well these 3 guys prove me wrong, they all kept excelling
    with age … BRAVI ! I suspect good parenting and proper teachers skills.