Lang Lang

Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn: First Piano Concertos

Barely out of his teens on this recording, Lang Lang demonstrates plenty of virtuoso finger dexterity, but also places his personal stamp on the music. In the Tchaikovsky, a barn-burner of a piece that some pianists use to show how fast and loud they can play, Lang stresses the layers of intimacy alongside its more extroverted passages, which he plays with plenty of pianistic pyrotechnics. If his first movement seems disjointed, more a fantasia than a cohesive entity, he makes a virtue out of necessity through sharp accents that highlight its episodic character. Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony's brilliantly played accompaniments are in synch with Lang's approach. The Mendelssohn is a work that replaces bombast with elegant sparkle well suited to Lang's strengths. Lang is in his element here, sprinkling notes without breaking a sweat. There's stiff competition from classic performances by Argerich and Cliburn among many others in the Tchaikovsky, and Serkin, Schiff, and Thibaudet in the Mendelssohn, but Lang is well worth hearing.

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