Sunday, April 10, 2011

Beyond Lang Lang's Bang-Bang Klang

Ludwig van Beethoven: Sonata no.3 and no.23 "Appassionata"
Isaac Albéniz: Iberia Book 1
Sergey Prokofiev: Sonata no. 7

With China opening, Lang Lang became the brightest star among the world's top pianists. He also became the panis coelicus to the managers of concert houses as well as of the record companies. His concerts are regularly sold out long in advance even if his performances regularly provoke quite different reactions among experts who often criticize his lack of finesse although pretty much everyone agrees that his dexterity is the most impressive of all his skills.

Personally I liked the fact that the young kids in China looked up to him and saw a role model in this cool & hard working guy. As far as his interpretative skills are concerned, he was never my preferred pianist.  There was always something lacking -- something that would make us appreciate him for more than "just" virtuosity (sic!)  Don't get me wrong -- I too am impressed by virtuosity, but that alone cannot keep my attention span last forever -- there should be something else that goes beyond "bang-bang" sound.

And so I went to see the first of his 9 (nine!) concerts organized in Paris last month. It was good as many noticed a clear improvement in his interpretation wrt the way he used to play 3-4 years ago. This night he was not busy speeding through the slow parts to get to those in which he could bang the heck out of Steinway [OK there were a few of those moments too, bit not nearly as much as a few years back!] He tried to make the second movement in Appasionata as introspective as possible and I liked it. It is still not comparable to what you get from Barenboim (for example) but Lang Lang is definitely improving.

On this link you can find a free video of the live recording of Lang Lang's concert given at Cité de la Musique, on March 30 2011. The same video is also available on

I found on YT a video of the second movement of Appassionata filmed during the concert ge's given last December in Vienna:

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