Every appearance at Symphony Hall by Evgeny Kissin is an event, and Thursday's was no exception. The standing-ovationers were there in force, as were the bouquet-offerers. And the pianist's almost military-like courtesy to both the front and back of the auditorium, these days a smile almost breaking through, remains a constant.
But the focus upon music remains the most constant of all, and here we had a shrewdly-programmed recital tracing the rise of romanticism in the piano repertoire.
Haydn doesn't need the swooning body-language which distracted from Kissin's account of the so-called "English" Sonata in E-flat. To this lovely work Kissin brought lively projection, wit, pellucid articulation (including pearly thirds to die for) and warm depth of tone.
Strangely, Beethoven's career-summatory Op.111 C minor Sonata was next up. Here we relished a wonderful richness of chording, steely precision of fingerwork, pragmatic pedalling, and an appropriate gruffness followed by superbly-controlled trilling as this amazing work floated up to its beatific conclusion.
Further beatific moments followed in four Schubert Impromptus, Kissin accenting dynamically beneath often rippling textures, balancing the cross-hand passages judiciously, and sculpting cello-like lines when the composer draws attention to the tenor register.
We should have ended with the Beethoven. Instead we were given Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody no.12, full of flourish and glitter demanding a hyperactive right hand. This was virtually an encore in itself, before the inevitable succession, every item unannounced.