World-renowned pianist LANG LANG turns to the composer who has accompanied him throughout his career on his new release for Sony Classical, THE CHOPIN ALBUM. The music of Chopin, universally loved for its beauty and communicative power, has long been a dynamic force in Lang Lang’s life, propelling him through a number of career-defining experiences. Now, in his 30th-birthday year, Lang Lang records his first album entirely devoted to the great composer’s solo piano masterpieces. Chopin "speaks with such a universal voice," says Lang Lang. "I genuinely believe he's a true ambassador for classical music among the great composers. He appeals to everyone."
One of the first pieces Lang Lang learned was theRead more Grande Valse brillante in E-flat major op. 18 (included on this album), and it was Chopin's music that also carried him through a number of career-changing competitions, including Ettlingen (Germany) in 1994 and the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians in Sendai (Japan) in 1995, when he took First Prize performing Chopin's Second Piano Concerto. And it was with the Chopin Etudes that Lang Lang made his now-renowned Beijing Concert Hall recital at age 14 a performance that led to his studying with Gary Graffman at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. The Chopin Album includes the second set of Chopin's Etudes (op. 25), the Andante spianato & Grande Polonaise and a selection of shorter works that he has long enjoyed performing, including three Nocturnes and the Waltz op. 64 no. 1, popularly known as the "Minute" Waltz.
R E V I E W:
CHOPIN Etudes, Op. 25. Nocturnes: in F, Op. 15/1; in E?, Op. 55/2; in c?, Op. posth. Waltzes: in E?, Op. 18; in D?, Op. 64/1. Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise brillante, Op. 22 & • Lang Lang (pn); Oh Land (vocal1) • SONY 88725489603 (74:51)
& 1Tristesse (after Chopin: Etude Op. 10/3)
If you’re reading Fanfare’s piano reviews, chances are you already have a strong opinion about the immensely talented (and immensely controversial) superstar Lang Lang. But just in case you’re new to the pianist, and want to know whether or not to invest in this CD, a good place to start would be the highly interventionist performance of the E-Minor Etude, op. 25/5, with its wide dynamics, its extreme tempo-bending, and its often unusual voicing. If you find this an imaginative take on some overly familiar repertoire, chances are you’ll enjoy the recital as a whole; if, on the other hand, you find it too exhibitionist, too subjective, too willing to hammer home its ideas, you probably won’t find the rest of the recital to your liking either.
Granted, not everything is as individual as op. 25/5. Especially after a beguilingly well-spun Andante Spianato, with artfully shaped bel canto lines, the Grande Polonaise is surprisingly stolid in tone, with neither the blazing virtuosity nor the wit that can keep us engaged; the Minute Waltz, too, is a touch pedestrian (certainly, it’s nowhere near as fresh and vital as Anne Marie McDermott’s performance on the revelatory Chopin recital reviewed in Fanfare 35:2). But on the whole, these are deft and personally inflected readings—and given Lang Lang’s virtuosity and his lustrous tone, they generally work well for those not allergic to the overall approach. High spots? The op. 18 Waltz, with its dapper lilt and its imaginative articulation; the chipper, high-stepping account of op. 25/8; op. 25/11, with an arresting treatment of the hush before the onslaught. The engineering is generally good, and as a bonus, we get a snippet from the film The Flying Machine, a song based on op. 10/3—more than a bit treacly, but more faithful to the original than you might expect.
One minor reservatonDecember 7, 2012By Edward B. (Winchester, VA)See All My Reviews"If the artist wants to flack his own composition, as a part of an album otherwise devoted to Chopin, I would suggest a different album title. I had expected a full album of Chopin, and was not impressed with the "sneak preview" or paying for it."Report Abuse
Beautiful!!November 28, 2012By Judith R. (Bronxville, NY)See All My Reviews"Beautiful from start to finish. Lang Lang is a sensitive, moving performer."Report Abuse
Perfect for any occasionNovember 10, 2012By Breanna D. See All My Reviews"This high quality album is perfect for any moment: alone, with friends, as the main point of focus or in the background of a conversation. The pieces' range of dynamics are impressive. Makes me want to get up and get back to my classical ballerina days. You can almost see the dancing going along with the music."Report Abuse