An appearance at the 1987 Berlin Festival, where he played Tchaikovsky
's First Piano Concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic under Herbert von Karajan
, was his debut in the West. He was then 16 and was hailed as a remarkable and mature artist. Recording contracts with western companies were soon to follow. He returned to Western Europe for a 1988 tour with the Moscow Virtuosi, Vladimir Spivakov
conducting. In the same year he debuted at the BBC Promenade Concerts with David Atherton
conducting, and closed out the year at the traditional Berlin Philharmonic New Year's Eve concert under Karajan.
The two Chopin
concertos were the vehicles for his American debut with Zubin Mehta
and the New York Philharmonic
. Ten days later he followed this with a sensational New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall. Predictions of a major piano career were common, and have since been entirely borne out.
His amazing finger dexterity and power are coupled with an electrifying stage personality. His performances are dramatic and beautifully judged, musically. He tours widely, and his records are eagerly awaited. He appeared on the 1992 Grammy Awards ceremony, and in 1995 became the youngest person ever awarded the Musical American Instrumentalist of the Year. In 1996, the Russian government granted him the Triumph Award for Excellence, one of its highest honors for culture. In 1997 he was the first ever to give a solo piano recital as one of the BBC Proms concerts. The more-than-6,000 seats of the hall were sold out. Kissin won a Grammy in 2006 for his recording of Scriabin, Medtner, and Stravinsky; and another in 2010 for the Prokofiev Concertos Nos. 2 and 3. For the 2011-2012 season, Kissin had tours planned not only for Asia and Australia, but Europe and the Americas as well.