Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lang Lang

Lang Lang playing Air Piano 

Having seen Lang Lang twice before, I was pleasantly surprised by his performance Friday night at the Colorado Symphony. You can read my previous (mostly negative) reviews here:

The evening opened with an absolutely fantastic performance of Stravinsky's Petrouchka Suite. This is a great orchestral showpiece and the orchestra lived up to its call. There are a number of crazy difficult parts for individual performers, including principal trumpet Justin Bartels. The famous solo was taken at quite a fast temp, but he played it as fluidly as I have ever heard it. Even the orchestral piano part is difficult and that was played flawlessly as well. Conductor Scott O'Neil injected great emotion into the piece. It's the first time I've heard this piece live, and it was great to hear all of Stravinsky's orchestrational details so crisply performed.

Emotion is Lang Lang's middle name. He stepped out onto the stage wearing a leather tuxedo and immediately threw his arms straight up into the air as though he were an Olympic gymnast who had just pegged a landing. The ultimate hambone, I had perviously been let down by the sloppiness of his performances at the Hollywood Bowl on the same piece (Tchaikovsky #1) and at the Grammys when he was outplayed by Herbie Hancock on Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. But tonight he played extremely well, apparently he decided to leave his mittens at home and play with all the fingers.

Some of his temp changes were a little crazy; the B theme in the slow movement sounded like someone had set the LP to 78 rpm instead of 33 1/3. But he played beautifully, which great interpretation, and a level of technical perfection that showed he had really been working on the piece. As an encore he played a Chopin Waltz, also at crazy tempos, but the crowd went wild. It was good to see a full house at the Symphony, and Lang Lang did seem very appreciative of the orchestra.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sleeping Beauty (plus the CSO)

The Colorado Ballet gave a wonderful performance of SLEEPING BEAUTY tonight, although the intermissions were interminable and made the whole evening close to three hours long. It's not Tchaikovsky's best work; the third act is unnecessary and not very memorable. But there was some phenomenal dancing on the stage and the audience was enthralled.

Two weeks ago we saw the CSO perform Rimsky-Korsakov but I forgot to review it as I had my own recital I was preparing for and had guests in town. I am always amazed at how good the Colorado Symphony is, and Scheherezade SCHEHERAZADE is a great orchestral showpiece, featuring the concert-mistress Yumi Hwang-Williams. Also on the program was another great showpiece by Richard Strauss, Til Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks, one of my favorite pieces. The horn section blew their asses off. It was a great night. The lowlight of the evening was the Strauss Horn Concerto #2. Not a favorite piece, although it was played quite well by the principal horn Michael Thornton. Carlos Miguel Prieto conducted well, especially on the R-K.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Ray Zepeda Live in Denver - The Complete Concert

Here's the complete playlist, performed as in concert:

Ray Zepeda Live in Denver - The Complete Concert

Ray Zepeda Live in Denver - The Complete Concert
Featuring compositions by Ray Zepeda and David Bondelevitch
with Ray Zepda (alto, tenor, and soprano sax), Drew Morell (piano & bass), Ron Bland (bass), Todd Reid (Drums), David Bondelevitch (percussion), and Sean McGowan (guitar).