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Tuesday 24 April 2018

Review: Lang Lang

Pat O'Kelly

HAVING performed in front of an international audience of more than five billion people at the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing, Chinese pianist Lang Lang enjoys almost pop-idol levels of adulation and his performance at the National Concert Hall justifies this unusual acclaim.

His programme separates sonatas by Beethoven and Prokofiev with part of Albeniz' evocative 'Iberia'.

Lang Lang's energetic playing in the opening of Beethoven's early C major Op 2/3 Sonata reflects the composer's revolutionary spirit. Dedicated to Haydn -- an invigorating innovator -- the Sonata's malevolent lurches rupture periods of benevolent reflection.

The Adagio's flowing theme brings Lang Lang's poetic sensitivity to the fore, but, like the opening Allegro, it has its contrasted dramatic upsurges.

Lang Lang captures the hopping staccatos of the Scherzo perfectly, before launching into the cheeky agitation of the Finale.

His approach to Beethoven's F minor Op 57 'Appassionata' Sonata befits its expansive breadth. There is dynamic impulsiveness before the tenderness of the Andante's calm central variations. The bustling Finale explodes with tremendous verse.

Albeniz' Book I of 'Iberia' enters a different, at times almost Debussy-esque, sound world.

Exceptionally expressive in 'Evocacion', Lang Lang's view of 'El Puerto', is a fascinating portrayal of colourful fiesta. Castanets click gently before passionate flamenco swirls. Tolling bells in 'El Corpus Christi en Sevilla' create their own exotic processional atmosphere.

In Prokofiev's wartime 'Seventh Sonata', Lang Lang recall's poet Wilfred Owen's 'monstrous anger of the guns' and 'stuttering rifles rapid rattle' between its ghostly reveries.

Maybe he could dally a little longer in the romantic Andante, but the Sonata's bravura Finale reaches an impressive peak through Lang Lang's astonishing virtuosity.

Irish Independent

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