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Lang Lang

Discussion in 'Pianists' started by techneut, Nov 24, 2010.

  1. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I though we had a topic about him, but I could not find it somehow.
    After watching his performance of the Bartok sonata on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJ7A846nIjs
    he's gone up several notches in my esteem again. Known as a virtuoso in the romantic tradition,
    given to showing off and note-spinning, I'd never have associated him with Bartok, that least romantic and
    most uncompromising of composers. But his technical and musical command of this tough-as-nails sonata
    is just awesome. It may be a little on the fast side, but with such absolute clarity, scrupulous
    phrasing, razor-sharp touch, and dynamics, and irresistible drive, it does not feel too fast. I can
    imagine Bartok being played differently, but not better. Like Hamelin, this dude knows no limits.
    He's visibly enjoying the ride too, no apparent effort involved. Sheesh, to be able to play like that....
     
  2. jlr43

    jlr43 Member Piano Society Artist

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    I listened to five minutes of this and turned it off. Talk about hideously ugly colorless pounding...Having heard Bartok's own playing on recording, I'd daresay he'd be horribly embarrassed by this.
     
  3. Marik

    Marik New Member

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    Wow! I can only applaud your patience! I turned off that massacre exactly at 1:32". His vulgar approach to music is truly unbearable! Indeed, one needs to listen to Bartok himself to understand how pathetic this clown is.

    Best, M
     
  4. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    Chris, I couldn't agree with you more. A bit too fast, but superlative! This is quintissential Bartok. This first movement shares the spirit and the angular motives and parrallel 9ths found in the Out-of-Doors Suite, 1st and 5th sections. For those that don't know, this sonata is rarely performed because its 2nd movement can only be played on a Bosendorfer with extended lower range. It requires FFF and GGG# (below the AAA). Some will play it on other pianos by inverting the intervals. There is one low note not used in the piece (DD#/EEb) that some use for scordatura (re-tuning) to get in one of the needed notes. In my opinion, it's just better to play the Out of Doors suite because it has more variety. Thanks for the link.
     
  5. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Nice to see some more good old-fashioned Lang-Lang bashing :lol: I guess I could have expected that.
    If you hate Lang Lang already (which there can be good reasons to, I admit) he probably can't do anything good for you.
    However I do insist this is truly superlative playing. Yes it emphasizes the motoric aspect of Bartok's writing, but it does so spendidly. Rather than being colorless, this for me sparks in many shades of steely gray.
     
  6. Marik

    Marik New Member

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    No, has nothing to do with fashion of bashing him. In fact, I do not even hate him, but trying to accept his each individual performance on its own merits. For example, his Don Juan is superlative and... IMO, just phenomenal. There were quite a bit of other pieces, which I was able to enjoy quite a bit. But this particular so called "performance" reminds me a cowboy, who thinks that he is way cool, and gets into a finest French cuisine restaurant on a horse and in a vulgar way, burping and cursing, asks for a can of Budlight.

    To circumcise all harmonic, melodic, musical, coloristic, intellectual, and contextual richness and complexity of Bartok's Piano Sonata to a mere rhythmic drive is a bit... how should I put it... unthoughtful, but then... what would I know?

    Best, M
     
  7. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Very amusing description indeed. The performance did not strike me as such. But what do I know :D
     
  8. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    I can understand Lang Lang bashing sometimes, but I have heard a performance or two by him that I really enjoyed. Monica and I had a discussion some time back about his Chopin 27/2, which is a fine example of his best playing IMO. The only real complaint I had about that performance (on YouTube somewhere) was that his melody was often a little understated. It was far better than the other recordings I found on YouTube though.
     
  9. hyenal

    hyenal New Member Piano Society Artist

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    You mean the performance from his Carnegie Hall debut, Terez? It's a fine performance of a great intimacy to the music.
    I generally don't like Lang Lang, but I think it's resulted mostly from the fact that I mostly heard him on the TV. His mimic and so on is too distracting. If I listened to him just on the audio, I would have given him more credit.
    But on an occasion I thought that he is really good. It was his performance with Eschenbach of Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, in which the freshness of his playing (at that time he was count to the new faces in the classic world and his approach to music was felt all the more fresh) suited to the spirit of that relatively young Beethoven very well.
     
  10. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Clang Clang! :p

    Statistically, out of several hundred recordings, a famous pianist is due to make a fine recording or two. This is by far the most musically convincing performance I've seen from him. A titanic piece indeed!
     
  11. sarah

    sarah New Member

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    Really, quite excellent. Thanks for sharing this, Chris! I usually listen to Lang Lang with my eyes shut or by sound only, as I do find his antics less than professional. I must admit that the faces have seemed to get less in some recent videos I saw. They'll probably never be gone, however. :wink:
     
  12. cmudave1125

    cmudave1125 New Member

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    Lang Lang is a nice guy with technique to burn. My problems with him have to do with the excesses that he goes to in far too many performances. The first time he appeared with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra he played the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini - had I not been watching the performance in person, it would have been fine. The body movements and the facial expressions - what was he looking for up there? His encore performance of a Chinese folk melody (I think his own arrangement) was actually quite good. I have the impression that he started his career before he was ready - a case of too much, too soon. It would not surprise me if he becomes much more acceptable to other pianists as he grows older.
     
  13. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    There is only one word for how Lang Lang is on stage and how Glenn Gould was in the studio: self-indulgent (OK that might be two words). Where were their teachers when they were in training? I'll tell you where, right beside them telling them not to ruin the art and smacking them on the back of the head and telling them to shut up or get out. You know they HAD to be able to control themselves sometime for somebody bigger than they are. Then they accomplish something and are on their own and decide to do what ever they please. It is nothing more than lack of self-discipline. ... imo ... (and I can't stand that kind of arrogance and pride). I wouldn't go to a Lang Lang concert if someone gave me a left front row seat ticket. On the other hand, I would pay money, and good money at that, and walk two miles and sit in the back to see Hamelin. There is an artist extraordinaire. ...imo...
     
  14. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    As usual Lang Lang provokes strong emotions. But I wish people would shut up about the facial expressions. There are many more pianists who gaze towards the heavens for no good reason and look just as ridiculous if not more. I just stumbled upon this

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhnsXc5T ... re=related

    which I think is awful. At least LL gives the genuine expression of having a whale of a time.

    I'm not saying everything he does is great or even tasteful, but I do maintain this is a Bartok sonata of the highest standard, whether you agree with the single-mindedly percussive style or not. It's a choice, because LL can be exceptionally lyrical and fluid, too. Lastly, comparing any pianist to MAH is Not Fair .........
     
  15. hyenal

    hyenal New Member Piano Society Artist

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    What are the two ladies doing? pantomime or theatre?

    BTW I don't think LL is arrogant. Every artist is allowed to have the pride of him/herself, if he shows such a pride. Apart from it I saw him many times behaving very modestly (which is considered as an important virtue in the East Asia), especially toward the conductor and the orchestra with whom he is playing.

    Anyway he is certainly one of those artists, whose existence continuously evokes polemics. You know, the German critics have been so cruel to him for a long time, that a journalist has written an article analysing the reason (he was rather in favor of LL in that article).
     
  16. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yeah, it makes you wonder doesn't it. I hope Andreas and me didn't look like this when playing our 4-hand Mozart :lol:
    Even though they're not exactly unattractive, this puts me off more than the silly faces of LL. At least he is sort of funny and spontaneous, and probably genuine, whereas this is just looks like corny acting. It's probably very good Mozart playing, though I am not an expert in that.

    I can't help liking the guy. He may have a little bit of a star attitude but I believe also he is modest and probably good fun. The real arrogant stars that make me want to puke are the rap stars with their LA mansions and Ferraris, who get the millions hosed towards them for producing sh*t noise of no value whatsoever, and who behave like they earn every respect in the world and have a right to grab every female they fancy.

    Whoa, I guess that went a bit OT :shock: But I feel better now :D
     
  17. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    I'll give you this re LL: I loved his Bartok Sonata; but I'll just listen to it with my eyes closed. 8) Unfortunately, with Gould I have to close my ears, but that makes hearing the music pretty difficult. :wink:
     
  18. glenn

    glenn New Member

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    I have played with LL twice with the Phoenix Symphony. The first time was when he first was making the rounds as a soloist. We all thought he was a tremendously gifted pianist and sensitive interpreter. The second time was last year. Just by counting the number of people in his entourage, I'd say he had definitely reached the superstar level. He performed a Chopin concerto, and though he could have performed it unconscious, backward, in a straight jacket, his interpretation had definitely reached the "affected" stage - stopping just short of the "Liberace" level. His facial mannerisms did not bother me as much as his musical ones. Though he was indeed cordial and respectful, his tempos were unpredictably flighty to the point of being nearly impossible to follow. I am a pianist and knew the concerto, but it was easy to get hung out to dry nonetheless. When she was younger, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg used to be like this too. We used to say she wasn't a soloist so much as a "concerto stylist". LL is not quite that, and is sometimes stunningly good, but at other times he certainly pushes the limits of good taste pretty far.
     
  19. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yes absolutely, he can be pretty exasperating. A mixed bag indeed. But when he's good, he is very good.
     
  20. cmudave1125

    cmudave1125 New Member

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