ON THE DAY OF A CONCERT, EVGENY Kissin eats a light lunch, naps and, before taking the stage, "I make slight movements to make sure my arms, my shoulders, my whole body is free." The 22-year-old pianist says that his hands sometimes turn clammy with nervousness and during concerts he sweats profusely. "Afterward I drink a lot—water, juice, whatever is there." At the end of the night, he says, "I am never able to fall asleep. For two or three hours, I just lie in bed with the lights off. When I am not satisfied with what I have done, I usually get stimulated to think, to work, to concentrate more and give myself completely to the music."
That is pretty much what Kissin has been doing since he began formal music study in Moscow at the age of 6. He made his orchestral debut at 10, his solo debut at 11. By the lime he stepped onstage at Carnegie Hall in 1990 for his first American recital, the 19-year-old had released four acclaimed recordings and had been hailed in culture capitals worldwide as—in the words of one London paper—"a giant in the making."
When he is not touring, Kissin, who is single, lives with his parents in apartments in Moscow and Manhattan. He has met some young women who interest him, "but for me to say so sounds a little bit nonrespectful." His adoring audiences may wonder why he doesn't smile more onstage. "It depends on how much I am satisfied with my playing," he says. "I don't like to make false smiles. That should not be done—unless you are an actor or a diplomat."