It almost always happens. A concert virtuoso enters into the bright
lights and achieves fame as a performer. They travel the world and
play to great applause and receive the praise of the public — some,
like Franz Liszt, achieving an almost fanatical following. But then,
eventually, someone else comes along. Someone usually younger; and
someone just a little bit better. As the pianist Abbe Vogler once said
of Beethoven, "The man is not a man, but a devil. He will play will
play us all to death." At this point the older virtuoso doesn't disappear.
They simply get pushed to the back a little and are talked about as
being "one of the greats." But their time is essentially over. They are
somehow of the greats of the past, not the present. The spotlights focus
on a new face.
Over the past decade I've considered Evgeny Kissin to be the world's
greatest pianist. Some might disagree. But I would bet that if you
would take a poll among critics and listeners that Kissin would come
in with more votes than anyone else.
Recently I ran into a new pianist — Valentina Lisitsa. She isn't very
well known yet. But in my opinion Lisitsa is better than Kissin. And
you don't know how strange it is to write the phrase "better than
Kissin." Nevertheless I think it is true.
So Long live the Queen. She will play them all to death.
* * * * *
And, I must be living right; Fate is kind. Valentina will be coming
here to Spokane next February. I already have my ticket, ordered and
paid for this morning. Fourth row, center. Only massive heart failure
or the blizzard of the century will keep me from this concert — and
I'm not even sure about the blizzard, I might even be able to make my
way through that one. I will sit and soak it up. And, like the ladies
of old used to do with Franz Liszt, I might just swoon a bit.
Valentina in her home studio — one of
four Bosendorfer concert grands.