Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Lang Lang’s Chopin Album not to be missed

Such is the publicity surrounding virtuoso pianist Lang Lang that it would be easy to overlook this phenomenal pianist’s gifts as a superb musician. There is often a great difference between a great virtuoso and a great musician. When it comes to performances of Chopin the bar is set very high for any pianist to add something to the recorded repertoire.

Lang Lang’s www.langlang.com new recording for Sony Classical, ‘Lang Lang - The Chopin Album’, is impressive by any standards. www.sonymasterworks.com


This new release includes the 12 Etudes Op.25, Nocturnes in F major Op.15 No.1, in E flat major Op.55 No.2 and in C sharp minor Op. posth, the Grande Valse Brillante in E flat major Op.18, the Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Op.22 and the Waltz in D flat major op.64 No.1.

You only have to hear the gentle opening notes of the A flat major Etude to know that Lang Lang is more than just a great virtuoso pianist. There are gorgeous rippling notes and a wonderful control of the left hand. There is a perfect rise and fall of the music around the central climax of this work.

The F minor Etude is beautifully controlled yet maintains a flow and forward momentum and the F major Etude is full of bounce and rhythm with a second subject that contrasts with its poetic feel as does the A minor.  

The E minor Etude has a perfectly judged opening theme as the music leads to the limpid second subject, with wonderful interweaving of themes between left and right hands. Lang Lang has a deliciously delicate touch.

The Etude in G sharp minor is dramatic and dynamic and the C sharp minor gloriously played. One could not ask for more feeling and sensitivity. What a wonderful touch he has in the D flat major Etude and so well paced. This is lovely Chopin.

There is more brilliant playing in the G flat major Etude and a colossal, fiery B minor Etude shows Lang Lang’s exceptional technique. Yet the central section is played with such exceptional simplicity.

In the A minor Etude, Lang Lang is impressive with playing of such range and power, yet with every note perfectly placed. The tempestuous C minor Etude concludes this set, with those billowing arpeggios, always with wonderful control of dynamics.

Lang Lang’s Nocturne in E flat major Op. 55 No. 2 is slightly slower than I’m used to, yet he brings a thoughtful yet atmospheric feel to the endless flowing melody. The Nocturne F major Op.15 No.1 again brings thoughtful, sensitive playing that perfectly frames his turbulent middle section.

Lang Lang’s Grande Valse Brillante in E flat major is beautifully phrased and poised, never exaggerated. The Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Op.22, two pieces that I never feel really belong together, has poise, delicacy and grace in the Andante and a Polonaise full of brio, life and dancing rhythms. Such is Lang Lang’s technique that even when, as here, he dashes ahead seemingly spontaneously, it all sounds perfectly together and controlled.

Lang Lang’s Nocturne in C sharp minor Op Posth. is another beautiful performance with attractive little details brought out.  His Waltz in D flat major Op.64 No.1 (the so called ‘Minute’ waltz) has delicacy and poise yet dances along perfectly, never rushed. Lang Lang does not use this work as a mere display piece. There is wonderful rubato in a performance that brings a freshness to this well-worn favourite.  

The final track is described as a bonus track and is a setting of words to Chopin’s Etude Op.10 No.3 in E major with the Danish singer-songwriter Oh Land providing the vocals. I’m not sure that this last track brings much to this disc but, given that this singer will be appearing at Lang Lang’s special one night concert on 30th October 2012 to raise money for the Lang Lang International Music Foundation, it should be taken as a tribute to her contribution to this worthwhile project.

Lang Lang’s playing on this disc displays his phenomenal technique combined with his sense of poetry and sensitivity and a great sense of authority in all these works.

I’m sure that this CD will sell well without my recommendation but nevertheless this is a Chopin CD not to be missed.

1 comment:

  1. Chopin would not like to be mentioned in the same breath as Beethoven, for he found Beethoven's music awkward and ugly.
    Chopin Technique