Tickets were rare - but then Evgeny Kissin's concerts and recitals are always sold out. But for Kissin to play all five Beethoven's Piano Concertos back to back over two concerts at London's Barbican was something exceptional. The Moscow-born Kissin has stunned the world with the brilliance and precocity of his playing, but in recent years dissenting voices have been raised - can the emotional expression of his playing match his technical brilliance? Tales about Kissin's musical precocity are legion: at 11 months, when most babies are just about starting to talk, Kissin was singing along to a Bach fugue played by his elder sister. At two he could pick out tunes on the piano. At six he joined a Moscow music school for gifted children and at 12 he played two Chopin piano concertos with the Moscow State Philharmonic and started making his first recordings. At 16 he played Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic under Herbert von Karajan, and in the same year he played his first London Prom, with David Atherton. At 25 he became the first pianist to give a solo recital at the Proms where he gave seven encores to an ecstatic audience of 6,000. A pianist with such a phenomenal career starting at such a tender age could run the risk of burnout. Kissin protects himself from this by limiting the number of performances he gives to about 50 a year - most other concert pianists are playing double or treble that number. He's also intensely private, rarely giving interviews and with his lifelong piano teacher, Anna Pavlovna Kantor, living in-house he has all he needs under one roof. His concerts last week were with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Colin Davis. Kissin was greeted with rapturous applause as he walked on stage. The first half of the first concert was Beethoven's Second Concerto followed by the First, played in that order as the Second Concerto was written before the First. But in the interval a few dissenting voices were being raised: 'Wasn't he being a little too heavy-handed?' By the end of the Third Concerto, played in the second half, the audience could not help but be impressed by Kissin's sheer stamina, virtuosity and powers of memorisation - part of the applause was for crossing the line at the end of a musical marathon. But the doubts still remained. As we gathered three days later for the last two concertos some reviews critical of the first concert had already appeared in some sections of the press. Could he silence his critics? At the end of the mighty Fifth, the Emperor of all piano concertos, half the audience was on its feet, but half remained seated. The truth was that over the five concertos there had been moments of brilliance, but cadenzas had been thumped out and finales attacked with great force but little exultation - the emotion being left to Davis and the LSO.