Richard Blackford

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Tudor 7194

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alternatively Crotchet

The Art of Lang Lang
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 in c-charp minor [9:05]
Liebestraum, S. 541 No. 3 [5:46]
Peter TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in b-flat minor Op. 23 Allegro con fuoco [7:18]
Lu WENCHENG (1898-1981)
Autumn Moon on a Calm Lake (arr. Chen Peixun) [4:08]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Kinderszenen Op. 15: Traumerei [3:18]
Frederic CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Nocturne in D-flat Op. 27 No. 2 (Live) [6:41]
Piano Sonata No. 3 in b minor Op. 58 Finale. Presto non tanto [5:29]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Sonata in C, K330 Allegro moderato [6:35]
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in c minor, Op. 18 Adagio sostenuto [12:27]
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43, variation 18 [2:49]
Lang LANG and Lang GUO-REN
Horses [2:52]
Yellow River Piano Concerto: Prelude: The song of the Yellow River Boatmen [3:30]
Lang Lang (piano)
Orchestras, conductors, and recording venues not given
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 442 9484 [69:48]

I must say Iím not quite sure what to make of this release. In perusals of the websites of both Lang Lang and Deutsche Grammophon, there is no mention of this disc, put out hot on the heels of Lang Langís recording of two of Beethovenís piano concertos (4776719). Lang Langís technical and artistic prowess certainly wowed audiences here in Indianapolis. This reviewer was very much impressed not only by the performance of Mozartís 17th Piano Concerto with the Indianapolis Philharmonic, but also with the encores and his off-stage approachability. He spoke of the first time he heard the Liszt (presented on this disc) on a Tom and Jerry cartoon, and in interviews with local media of the pet starling Mozart and the connection of its song with the Mozart piece; sadly not included on this disc. Of the artists Iíve heard and met, he is wonderfully charming and has talent to burn.
Here, we have the first release in Lang Langís discocgraphy that looks backward. Not that thatís a bad thing at all, considering his achievements and rapid rise. Packaged more like a pop record than just about anything Iíve seen in the classical sphere, this disc shows Lang Langís appeal in a wide-ranging sample of his previous output, all very well recorded and spectacularly performed. The Beethoven, which is superbly played, appears, sadly, to have been too recently released to see inclusion on this disc. The playing is spectacular, from what some would call the old warhorses to the pieces that Lang Lang arranged and has presented to an international audience for the first time. These include the Yellow River Piano Concerto (from his release Dragon Songs) and Horses, from his disc recorded live at Carnegie Hall. Also very pleasant is Autumn Moon on a Calm Lake, which is blissfully tranquil and sensitively played. It could be Schumann shone through an Asian lens.
The trouble is that itís only a sampler. There are shorter pieces here, but multi-movement works such as Tchaikovskyís first piano concerto and Mozartís piano sonata K330 only get one movement apiece, and Rachmaninovís Paganini is represented by only variation 18. For those willing actually to search around through the back catalogue, one can figure out the recording dates, conductors and orchestras for these performances, but they get no credit here. All eyes are toward the soloist.
In short, this is a wonderful introduction to a spectacular artist, and itís wonderful that this might be the entrťe for younger audiences to gain access to the wonderful world of classical music, but for those responsible for the presentation of the material, please give the artists (for there certainly are more than one present on this disc) their due as well.

David Blomenberg


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