Liszt - My Piano Hero
Lang Lang (pf)
Sony 88697891402 Buy now
Lang Lang’s contribution to the composer’s bicentenary is a “those you love” programme spiced with more ambitious and imaginative choices. A product of what must surely be among the most lavish public-relations exercises in classical music, Lang Lang’s glittering career now moves from dubious beginnings (he was described by one critic as “a lounge-lizard pianist”) to an increasing range and maturity. Here he opens his latest disc with a transcription of the song “O pourquoi donc”, relishing its surprise modulations and playing with a special delicacy and affection. His stealthy tempo for “La campanella” allows for a super-glitter and articulacy that even the most seasoned pianist might envy, while in “Un sospiro” his relaxed poetry and technique are masterly at every level.
His Schubert-Liszt “Ave Maria” has all the communicative ardour that has endeared him to millions and, at the other end of the spectrum, his steam-drill octaves at the close of the Sixth Hungarian Rhapsody, his inclusion of Horowitz’s mischievously enhanced version of the Fifteenth and his technical know-how in the First Concerto will send shivers down the spines of many lovers of virtuosity. Only a disappointingly flaccid and well-mannered Grand galop chromatique (no comparison here with Cziffra’s scorching bravura) mars the proceedings. Yet this marginal failure hardly erases one’s sense of a major talent already moving in new and enlightening directions. Bryce Morrison