COMPOSERS: Mozart Chopin Schumann Liszt
ALBUM TITLE: Lang Lang: Memory
WORKS: C major Sonata
PERFORMER: Lang Lang
CATALOGUE NO: DG 477 5976
What a disappointment to find that this concept recital, made up of those works that Lang Lang has lived with for most of his life, contains only flashes of his winning charm and communicative flair.
Mozart’s C major Sonata comes off best, innocent to the point of occasionally sounding disingenuous, but played with an attractive singing tone. The Chopin B minor Sonata, though, eludes him conceptually, especially when compared to Dinu Lipatti’s recording from 1950. Look at their respective slow movement timings: Lipatti, 8:57; Lang Lang, 14:10. It proves somewhat excruciating; not even a Richter could be guaranteed to bring off music successfully so far below the tempo that suits it. The first movement rarely adds up to more than the sum of its parts, the scherzo is ruined by a trio that almost grinds to a halt, and parts of the final movement are heavily overpedalled. In Lipatti’s incandescently inspired performance, it’s unnecessary even to consider the differentiation between moments that are structurally and emotionally significant and those that are not. Lang Lang, investing inappropriate matters with too much significance, diminishes the whole.
Schumann’s Kinderszenen is pleasing in parts but again blighted
by an unconvincing narrative flow. The poet speaks more coherently
in Radu Lupu’s recording (Decca).
Lang Lang sounds happier on the bonus disc, crashing and glittering through Liszt/Horowitz’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. Jessica Duchen