The Chopin Album, Lang Lang (2012)
Complete Recordings (2000-2009), Lang Lang
Lang Lang's greatest gift to classical music -- some would argue what tarnishes his reputation -- is an unparalleled celebrity. In all my years of going to concerts at the Kennedy Center, this was the first time that young children next to me regularly badgered their parents about when the soloist was going to play. He packed the Concert Hall for every performance, and many people came more than once, cheering wildly at every facet of his rhapsodic, weird performance. At the podium Christoph Eschenbach made some effort to rein his soloist in, taking the first movement initially at a somewhat reserved tempo, but he had little choice but to give Lang Lang his head as he moved the music in so many different directions. The technique was startling -- impetuous runs, buzzsaw trills, the cadenza rendered like one of Liszt's opera paraphrases -- but the second movement got tangled in its own self-indulgence, starting with a particularly wandering, dreamy piano introduction, while the third movement, not quite as fast as one expected, was still a delirious galop. A quirky encore, Chopin's "Minute Waltz," taken at a clip and with theatrical over-gesturing, was just short of a parody of Chico Marx. All in all, not one of my favorite performances but also not one I would not have wanted to miss.
Anne Midgette, Lang Lang, Christoph Eschenbach, NSO offer vivid classical music (Washington Post, November 9)
Vasily Petrenko takes the reins of the NSO this week (November 15 and 17), leading performances of Shostakovich's fourth symphony and Tchaikovsky's violin concerto, with Sergey Khachatryan as soloist. On Friday night (November 16), Petrenko will preside over a multimedia examination of the Shostakovich fourth, the Beyond the Score presentation created by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.