Lang Lang

Haydn, Rachmaninoff, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Balakirev / Lang Lang

This CD, apparently a recording debut, presents a Chinese pianist in his teens in live performance (at Ozawa Hall, Tanglewood). It has many successful elements. The first one is the pianist's selection of Haydn to begin his program, since few pianists these days bother to investigate the riches of Haydn's prodigious piano output. Lang proves thoroughly sympathetic to Haydn's idiom, in a delightful, witty performance. It's a huge distance from Haydn to Rachmaninoff, but Lang has complete command of Rachmaninoff's extravagant virtuosity, and he makes this bombastic piece -not one of the composer's best- sound like convincing music. The most impressive performance on the disc is the Brahms set, on which the playing is poised and mature. The way Lang builds the crescendo in the central section of the final Intermezzo is the work of a mature artist, whatever his age. The uncommon Tchaikovsky pieces are also excellent. Only in the final Balakirev, where Lang sounds just a trifle cautious, can one have even slight reservations about his abilities; perhaps he was just tiring at the end of the concert. Unlike many CDs issued today, this one makes a very satisfying listening program, just like the recital it reproduces (with excellent sound quality).

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