Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn: First Piano Concertos

Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn: First Piano Concertos

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by Lang Lang
     
 

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"Don't record the standard repertory unless you have something new to say" is the common refrain of critics these days. Well, there's no doubt that Lang Lang -- the young, Chinese-born pianist whose baby face belies a powerhouse virtuoso technique -- has a unique view of these two popular concertos. The Tchaikovsky, in particular, is given a

Overview

"Don't record the standard repertory unless you have something new to say" is the common refrain of critics these days. Well, there's no doubt that Lang Lang -- the young, Chinese-born pianist whose baby face belies a powerhouse virtuoso technique -- has a unique view of these two popular concertos. The Tchaikovsky, in particular, is given a very personal reading in which every phrase seems to be reconsidered afresh. Tempos are on the slow side, and there is a focus on detail that puts this account somewhat outside the interpretive mainstream. Yet, somehow, it works, partly because Lang Lang has such a sensitive partner in Daniel Barenboim on the podium. Barenboim elicits some glorious pianissimo playing from the Chicago Symphony to match Lang Lang's expressive delicacy. But not to worry, the big moments are given their due. In the Tchaikovsky, one might not expect such a light touch, but the Mendelssohn demands one, and Lang Lang's quicksilver performance is remarkably sure-footed. The quiet playing is exquisite (and, again, there's lots of it), but it is the rhythmic buoyancy that impresses most here. Lang Lang will undoubtedly refine his views of both concertos as his career progresses, but this disc is evidence of a remarkably individual and refined musical imagination at work.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times - Michael Kimmelman
There seems no limit to where [Lang Lang's] gifts can take him.
Gramophone - Edward Greenfield
Lang Lang's performances of the Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn concertos bear out glowing reports of his youthful brilliance and sensitivity.... With such sparkling playing -- Lang Lang erupting into a winningly joyful account of the finale [of the Mendelssohn] -- this makes a rare and attractive coupling for the distinctive account of the Tchaikovsky.
Time Out New York
Unsurprisingly, Lang Lang is equal to the considerable challenges of Tchaikovsky's well-worn Piano Concerto No. 1, tossing off its demanding runs and leaping octaves with considerable brio.... Both performances provide further evidence of a young star who warrants continued attention.
Philadelphia Inquirer - David Patrick Stearns
You fall in love with the [Tchaikovsky] all over again...thanks partly to Barenboim's unusually thoughtful conducting and to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which delivers blazing accompaniment.... Lang Lang gives the music nuance and intimacy.
Chicago Tribune
The sheer pianistic command, the charismatic style, the barnstorming brilliance are much as one remembers.... The Mendelssohn concerto [is] a young man's work that this young man plays with an irresistibly youthful joie de vivre.
Courier-Post - Robert Baxter
Lang Lang's prodigious technique makes these challenging scores sound easy. He produces a lovely, lustrous sound at all dynamic levels and shows a mastery of the piano pyrotechnics that abound in both concertos.
Seattle Times
The headlong passion and youthful effervescence Lang Lang always brings to the keyboard explodes here in performances that consistently arrest the attention.
Chicago Sun-Times
Lang Lang's irrepressible vitality shines through on every bar.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/15/2003
Label:
Deutsche Grammophon
UPC:
0028947429128
catalogNumber:
000066602
Rank:
200159

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23  - Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky  - Daniel Barenboim  -  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  - Martin Engstrom  - Fred Munzmaier  -  Lang Lang
  2. Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25  - Felix Mendelssohn  - Daniel Barenboim  -  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  - Martin Engstrom  - Fred Munzmaier  -  Lang Lang

Album Credits

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Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn: First Piano Concertos 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
ClasseekGeek More than 1 year ago
Lang Lang showboats on TV and DVD, but artistically he delivers little "bang for the buck". He favors ornamentation and technical embellishments at all costs, often reducing the original score to a muddled mess. Sonically, Barenboim contributes little in terms of warmth and light. The DGG engineering gives little emphasis to the orchestra, often recessed as compared to the often clattery sound of Lang Lang's playing. His heavy handed embellishments especially in the finale's main theme of the Tchaikovsky give it a moody, irritated phrasing. The Tchaikovsky ends up being agitated, while the Mendelssohn is played with a vapid and flat style. Lang Lang plays all too quietly, while the andante in the second movement lacks tonal variety. Altogether, quite uninspiring and pedantic for this listener's tastes. The listener should not have to submit his/her auditory senses to technical bombast before compromising on something that is at its best, dull and lifeless.