Lang Lang

Review of Royal Albert Hall Concert : Dazzling display of colour from a king of the keys - by Evening Standard (London) / NICK KIMBERLEY

Review of Royal Albert Hall Concert : Dazzling display of colour from a king of the keys - by Evening Standard (London) / NICK KIMBERLEY
NOT many classical pianists could fill the Albert Hall twice within 48 hours for a solo recital. Perhaps most wouldn’t want to. The place is on the large side for a lone piano, but not for Lang Lang.
 
In the past he has used amplification and multiple big screens to compensate for the size of the hall. Last night the amplification had gone, which gave his piano sound greater intimacy, while the four screens bestowed something of the atmosphere of a stadium concert. They
also allowed everyone a close-up view of his hands at work, a wonder to behold.
 
Tchaikovsky’s sequence The Seasons is a big ask for a concert opener. Over 45 minutes, the sequence takes us through the year month by month, mood by mood.
 
February was hammered out almost like a boogie, April found Lang Lang pulling at the melodic line, which is his habit, but the throwaway ending of December had lighthearted finesse. He may have given the set a little too much weight, but better that than treating it as merely
light music.
 
The opening of Bach’s Italian Concerto did not sound very 18th century, but it danced, while the Andante
had a nicely improvisatory air. The closing Presto was heavy and choppy but with a real sense of perpetual
motion.
 
Lang Lang then devoted the second half to Chopin, almost his alter ego. The word “scherzo” means joke but the Four Scherzos are anything but. They are tumultuous, sometimes tormented, with only occasional moments of calm, but a calm that brings no rest.
 
Lang Lang’s intricate and athletic finger-work did them full justice: there was no blurring, every line was cleanly etched, and the range of colours he coaxed from hisSteinway was dazzling.