- Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15
- Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58
Lang Lang, the brilliant young Chinese pianist, delivers his first Beethoven recording with this disc coupling the First and Fourth Piano Concertos. With crystalline technique, Lang finds the joyful heart of the First Concerto, playing with rhythmic precision and a bold, forthright tone in the faster outer movements while adopting a lovely singing quality in the beautiful Largo. The Fourth Concerto is the more unconventional of the two, opening, for instance, with solo piano instead of the traditional orchestral introduction. In the right hands, this work can't fail to create a powerful impression, and it certainly does here, especially in the eccentric middle movement, cast as a dramatic dialogue between the mythical Orpheus and the gods of the underworld; Lang's responsive playing of this prayerful music is the highpoint of the disc. Having first met in 1999 before the pianist burst on the international music scene, Lang and conductor Christoph Eschenbach have forged a close working relationship, and the two are in complete accord here, investing this magnificent music with color, intensity, and a sense of exhilaration that grabs you by the ears.