DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

Album review: Lang Lang dances cheek to cheek with favourite composer Frédérick Chopin

By John Terauds on October 5, 2012

Lang Lang’s new all-Chopin album for Sony Classical is to be officially released on Oct. 9 (AP Photo/Alex Brandon).

Lang Lang, the world’s rock star of classical piano, knows how to please an audience with charisma and verve that is as infectious for a pop-concert crowd as a classical one. But sometimes the music itself gets distorted along the way. Is it the same story with his new all-Chopin album?

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, the founder of Musical Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds

Lang has used the music of Frédérick Chopin (1810-1849) as his secret weapon since childhood. Now 30, the pianist has explored every nook and cranny of this naturally lyrical, Romantic music that helped define the art of the solo pianist during the modern instrument’s infancy.

Every single serious piano student at some point confronts the music of Chopin, and nearly every classical music listener is, at some point, seduced by its operatic melodies, soaring lyricism and overt virtuosity.

This is music that can caress, exhort, move and elevate when the right person mixes the ingredients just right.

There are hundreds of perfectly decent recordings of Chopin out there, each in some way a window on the pianist’s soul as much as being a conduit for the pieces themselves.

Seen in that light, Lang’s Chopin Album is a showcase for the very best of this remarkable artist.

The pianist’s technique is phenomenal, but he deploys it here in the service of grace and elegance more than dazzling fireworks. And where he can over indulge in melodrama in live performance, Lang reigned it in during his June studio sessions in Germany.

The is naturally melodramatic music, so Lang has wisely stuck to the composer’s instructions while always adding his own little rhythmic or phrasing twist.

The dozen Op. 25 Etudes are exciting. To them, Lang has added three Nocturnes, sweetly rendered. The Andante Spianato & Grande Polonaise fare a bit less well as Lang puts too much attention on spicing up the Polonaise with flashes of virtuosity.

There are two waltzes (The Op. 18 Grande Valse Brillante and the “Minute” Waltz) where Lang goes a bit over the top, turning these whipped confections of three-four-time abandon into slightly gritty fudge.

The album’s encore is “Tristesse,” a song collaboration with Denmark’s Oh Land. Because the current fashion in pop singing dislikes long melodies, what little there is left of Chopin in this piece is pretty much demolished along the way.

Encore aside, this is Chopin that is fun, lively, rendered with emotion on shirtcuff but with a sense of proportion and poise. It should make even more converts to the Cult of Lang Lang without having others begrudge it.

For the already converted, there is a limited edition of the album available that includes a DVD with video footage of Lang using his love of Chopin to win over audiences and competition judges from an early age.

The album’s website has all sorts of extra information, including samples from each track.

Here is a promotional video for the album:

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, the founder of Musical Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

THE SCOOP | Glenn Gould Gets A Birthday Message From Outer Space

By Michael Vincent on September 25, 2017

Glenn Gould gets a surprise birthday greeting the International Space Station orbiting above the earth.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

HOT TAKE | A Look Into The Musical Past Of Governor General Julie Payette

By Michael Vincent on October 3, 2017

Baroque music lovers now have one of their own in Ottawa.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

SCRUTINY | Toronto Symphony Orchestra Canadian Program Fails To Stir True Patriot Love

By John Terauds on October 22, 2017

TSO's poorly attended all-Canadian program speaks volumes about the low profile of Canadian composers in their own country.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.