Friday, July 18, 2008

LANG LANG

An excellent concert at the Hollywood Bowl tonight, featuring a Chinese composer, conductor, cello soloist, and pianist.

The highlight of the night was Lang Lang performing the Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto #1.

I have mixed feelings about him as a performer. At times, he has brilliant technique, especially when playing the block-chord melody sections; his wrists were moving so fast they were a complete blur. But he has several flaws in his performance style. One is his obvious hand motions that are overly exaggerated even in the simple sections. At times I feel like I'm watching Chico Marx playing his one-fingered solos with flourishes.

But more problematic is his insistence on playing at breakneck paces; even sections that are supposed to be slow. He uses it as an excuse for sloppy playing; I think he assumes we won't notice if the notes go by quickly. The tempi are so fast that they remove musicality from the performance.

Yet the night was a pleasure. Tan Dun's Crouching Tiger Concerto was fun, and the fireworks at the end of the night were even more fun.
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