The world of pop has the imminent appearance of One Direction in June. The Country world has Garth Brooks in July. The Classical world had it’s equivalent on Saturday night when Chinese pianist Lang Lang arrived into the National Concert Hall for a recital of Mozart Sonatas and Chopin Ballade’s.
Arriving out on stage to an overwhelming applause, Lang Lang opens the first half, all Mozart Sonatas, with Sonata No.5 in G major K283. A wonderfully light and playful work, Lang Lang handles each part with an incredibly delicate touch and a playful demeanuor, dipping and weaving in his seat, mirroring the notes as they rise and fall. His performance of Sonata No.4 in E flat major K282 proves similarly hypnotic, with Lang Lang’s simple and pure style of interpretation proving highly effective.
The Sonata No.8 in A minor K310 sees another side of both composer and performer. The opening Allegro Maestoso is vividly dark and full of anguish, and is wonderfully portrayed by the performer. Without overstating the discords or over-romanticising the statements, Lang Lang remains true to both the classical era and the composer. The Presto is similarly impressive. Creating a haunting atmosphere, the piece ends in an intense conclusion, masterfully portrayed by the pianist.
The second half of the recital is made up entirely of Chopin Ballades, the first of which is the Ballade No.1 in G minor Op.23. Bringing out all the charm and delights of Chopin’s music, all of which with an immense technical virtuosity, Lang Lang could do nothing more with this work. The following two Ballade’s are also presented impeccably, the second of which – the Ballade No.3 in A flat major Op.47 – is particularly charming and entrancing, with wonderfully balanced trills, perfect moments of rubato and an ideal representation of the charm and passion of Chopin’s style.
Closing with the Ballade No.4 in F minor Op.52, Lang Lang shows off his ability to tackle Chopin’s most intricate works. Cadenza-like passages fly by with no sign of stress or extra effort from the performer, creating a real sense of continuity within the work, and the huge finale offers a rich, powerful end to the evening.
As a pianist, it would be difficult to find someone more technically proficient than Lang Lang. But what is even more impressive is that as a performer, it would even more difficult to find someone with a better touch as a performer of classical and romantic piano music. With many performers opting for an overly-romanticised interpretation, Lang Lang provides the pinnacle of the performance of both classical and romantic piano music. He never enforces himself upon the music, but acts only as a vessel for the music and composer to speak for themselves. In one recital, Lang Lang proves to the entire audience just why he has such a wonderful reputation as a performer, and after three standing ovations, it can be assumed that no one in the audience would disagree.
Sonata No.5 in G major K 283
Sonata No.4 in E flat major K 282
Sonata No.8 in A minor K 310
Ballade No.1 in G minor Op.23
Ballade No.2 in F major Op.38
Ballade No.3 in A flat major Op.52
Ballade No.4 in F minor Op.52