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NYT: Lang Lang: The Pianist Who Plays Too Muchly
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Frank Forman
2020-10-20 00:58:03 UTC
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Sounds like Sir Simon, who I find is also too fussy?

NYT: Lang Lang: The Pianist Who Plays Too Muchly
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/04/arts/music/lang-lang-bach-goldberg-variations.html

On a new recording of Bach's "Goldberg" Variations, the superstar
artist stretches the music beyond taste.
Lang Lang's seriousness of purpose permeates his recording of Bach's
"Goldberg" Variations. Still, indulgences appear from the first
measures.
Lang Lang's seriousness of purpose permeates his recording of Bach's
"Goldberg" Variations. Still, indulgences appear from the first
measures.Credit...Roman Pilipey/EPA, via Shutterstock
Anthony Tommasini

By Anthony Tommasini

Last year Lang Lang released "Piano Book," an album of pieces that
fostered his childhood passion for the piano: short Chopin works,
folk songs, "Chopsticks." A deluxe edition includes a reprint of the
score for Beethoven's "Für Elise," annotated with Mr. Lang's
handwritten suggestions for student pianists.

Above the opening measure, Mr. Lang writes, "Don't just play, feel
the notes softly come out from your fingers and heart." At the end,
he has a final reminder: "The main melody comes many times, must be
played with different shapes, colors, characters."

These two comments suggest why -- for all his playing's uncanny
virtuosity, wondrous control of shadings and sound and unbridled
urgency -- I and many others have long found Mr. Lang's performances
overindulgently expressive and marred by exaggerated interpretive
touches.

What does it mean to feel the notes come from your heart? How do you
do that? And if a melody in a short piece keeps returning, as in
"Für Elise," why must it be played differently each time? That
approach risks making the music seem mannered, even manipulated. The
comment suggests that it doesn't occur to Mr. Lang that maintaining
the essential contour, flow and character of a wistful melody like
this one might actually enhance the expressive impact of the music.
And for all the soft-spoken beauty of his performance, it comes
across as fussy and affected.

My frustrations with Mr. Lang also apply to his latest recording,
which includes two accounts of Bach's monumental "Goldberg"
Variations. One was made in a studio in Berlin; the other was
recorded live in St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany, where Bach
worked for the last 27 years of his life. I focused on the studio
version, which Mr. Lang said he prefers in a recent interview with
New York Times -- though he added that he likes the spontaneity of
the live performance.

Mr. Lang could play this formidable piece from memory as a teenager,
but waited until this spring, just before turning 38 -- and after
being sidelined for more than a year with a left-arm injury -- to
record it and take it on tour. He wound up playing only three of the
concerts before the coronavirus pandemic canceled the remainder.

For a pianist whose stardom was fueled by dazzling performances of
Romantic concertos, Mr. Lang's venture into Bach's touchstone score
was a risk. There is a large discography of exceptional recordings.
And what constitutes proper Baroque style is hotly debated, even
among specialists.

Mr. Lang's seriousness of purpose permeates his "Goldbergs." Still,
indulgences appear from the first measures of the tranquil opening
Aria, which provides the bass line (and harmonic patterns) from
which Bach generated 30 variations. Mr. Lang takes a restrained
tempo and plays with warm, subdued sound. His execution of clipped
rhythmic figures and embellishments is somewhat pronounced, though
within the bounds of Bachian style.

But Mr. Lang can't resist tugging and pulling at phrases. The result
is that the Aria lacks flow and shape. Moment after moment, Mr. Lang
keeps you hanging, and hanging. This opening section has never
seemed so long.

What does it mean to play expressively? Compare classical music to
film. Film buffs recognize overacting in a flash, and won't put up
with it. Mr. Lang, I think, does the equivalent of overacting in
music; his expressivity tips over into exaggeration, even vulgarity.
He has won ardent fans for the sheer brilliance and energy of his
playing. But many also respond to moments of deep expression, when
he sure seems to be doing something to the music, almost always
reflected in his physical mannerisms.

In classical music, unlike in film, players are often performing
repertory works, like the "Goldberg" Variations, which are familiar
to their audiences. Listeners are judging a performance based on its
differences from others they've heard, not merely in a vacuum. The
key, I'd say, is the proper mixture of bold personality --
difference from the norm -- and subtlety, taste.

Taste is, of course, a subjective thing. But there is reason to
question Mr. Lang's. Yes, a melody can be sung or played with
expressive touches by bending a phrase, prolonging a note, delaying
an entry.

But even music that seems lyrically flowing, with melodic lines that
spin and weave -- like the slow movement of Bach's "Italian"
Concerto, or any Chopin nocturne -- have an underlying structure,
much like the underlying metrical structure of a poem. Even prose
unfolds in clauses, sentences and paragraphs. The risk of stretching
music -- especially to the degree that a sense of pulse becomes weak
-- is that the shape of a phrase, a passage or an entire section
becomes entirely lost in a profusion of expressivity.

Mr. Lang plays the Romantic repertory with a great deal of freedom,
especially rhythmic freedom -- what's known as rubato. Bach's
"Goldberg" Variations certainly invite flexible approaches to rhythm
and pacing. But it's a question of degree, style, taste.

Variation 3, for example, is the first of the periodic contrapuntal
canons in the score, with one line followed a couple of beats later
by its echo. The two lines intertwine gracefully above a steady bass
pattern of eighth notes that soon becomes more animated. Mr. Lang
takes a slow tempo and keeps stretching the mingling lines as they
flow over the bass. But the playing is so yanked around rhythmically
that the music sounds labored. He makes things even fussier by a
constant use of crescendos that swell and subside, like a squeeze
box.

In his 2013 recording, Jeremy Denk approaches the "Goldbergs" intent
on bringing fresh spontaneity to the music. It's certainly a strong
interpretation. In Variation 3, which he plays just a little faster
than Mr. Lang, Mr. Denk is not shy, articulating the bass line with
detached staccato touch and giving lyrical independence to the two
upper lines. Yet the performance is lithe, undulant and cogently
phrased. It's lovely.

On the young pianist Beatrice Rana's splendid 2017 recording, she
takes a quicker tempo, yet plays with beguilingly subdued sound and
just a trace of impishness. Bach structures his variations in two
sections, each one repeated. In Ms. Rana's performance of Variation
3, each section seems like it's emitted in a single breath.

Mr. Lang fares better in the faster, more pulsing variations. But
even in these -- for example the 10th, a bracing four-voice fughetta
-- he can't help himself. On the surface this is bright, crystalline
playing. Yet Mr. Lang seems determined to project each voice with
emphatic clarity. The music winds up feeling confusingly
complicated. The way he punches out accents is almost pummeling. The
four voices come out clearly, but much more naturally, in Ms. Rana's
spirited yet restrained, nuanced performance.

The 26th Variation is a whirlwind of spiraling passagework that
tests a pianist's technique. Not surprisingly, Mr. Lang dispatches
it effortlessly at a breathless tempo. But so does Ms. Rana, who
plays with wondrous lightness and sparkle, yet uncanny poise, which
actually enhances the excitement: You listen in awe, wondering how
she can bring out both qualities at once.

The sublime 25th Variation, a slow, achingly lyrical rumination with
passages that explore bold realms of chromatic harmony, invites a
performer to play with brooding expressivity. But Mr. Lang's
performance is so contorted I find it almost unlistenable. Both Ms.
Rana and Mr. Denk play the music eloquently in seven minutes or
less. Mr. Lang's lugubrious account clocks in at over 10 minutes.

It's like he's attempting to show us how deeply he feels the music,
to prove that it's truly coming from his heart. But as a listener I
don't care about his feelings; I care about mine. He has to make
this music touch me, not himself.

Mr. Lang brought enormous dedication to his "Goldbergs" project. Yet
in an admiring 1940 review of the distinguished pianist Josef
Lhevinne, Virgil Thomson wrote that "any authoritative execution
derives as much of its excellence from what the artist does not do
as from what he does." Mr. Lang surely does too much.
Herman
2020-10-20 15:54:52 UTC
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There is little or no comparison between Lang Lang and Simon Rattle.
Rattle is a genuine and generous musician, faced, like anyone recording these days, with the need to just give a little more.
Lang Lang is just a silly showman.
Néstor Castiglione
2020-10-20 18:59:42 UTC
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Post by Frank Forman
Sounds like Sir Simon, who I find is also too fussy?
NYT: Lang Lang: The Pianist Who Plays Too Muchly
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/04/arts/music/lang-lang-bach-goldberg-variations.html
On a new recording of Bach's "Goldberg" Variations, the superstar
artist stretches the music beyond taste.
Lang Lang's seriousness of purpose permeates his recording of Bach's
"Goldberg" Variations. Still, indulgences appear from the first
measures.
Lang Lang's seriousness of purpose permeates his recording of Bach's
"Goldberg" Variations. Still, indulgences appear from the first
measures.Credit...Roman Pilipey/EPA, via Shutterstock
Anthony Tommasini
By Anthony Tommasini
Last year Lang Lang released "Piano Book," an album of pieces that
fostered his childhood passion for the piano: short Chopin works,
folk songs, "Chopsticks." A deluxe edition includes a reprint of the
score for Beethoven's "Für Elise," annotated with Mr. Lang's
handwritten suggestions for student pianists.
Above the opening measure, Mr. Lang writes, "Don't just play, feel
the notes softly come out from your fingers and heart." At the end,
he has a final reminder: "The main melody comes many times, must be
played with different shapes, colors, characters."
These two comments suggest why -- for all his playing's uncanny
virtuosity, wondrous control of shadings and sound and unbridled
urgency -- I and many others have long found Mr. Lang's performances
overindulgently expressive and marred by exaggerated interpretive
touches.
What does it mean to feel the notes come from your heart? How do you
do that? And if a melody in a short piece keeps returning, as in
"Für Elise," why must it be played differently each time? That
approach risks making the music seem mannered, even manipulated. The
comment suggests that it doesn't occur to Mr. Lang that maintaining
the essential contour, flow and character of a wistful melody like
this one might actually enhance the expressive impact of the music.
And for all the soft-spoken beauty of his performance, it comes
across as fussy and affected.
My frustrations with Mr. Lang also apply to his latest recording,
which includes two accounts of Bach's monumental "Goldberg"
Variations. One was made in a studio in Berlin; the other was
recorded live in St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany, where Bach
worked for the last 27 years of his life. I focused on the studio
version, which Mr. Lang said he prefers in a recent interview with
New York Times -- though he added that he likes the spontaneity of
the live performance.
Mr. Lang could play this formidable piece from memory as a teenager,
but waited until this spring, just before turning 38 -- and after
being sidelined for more than a year with a left-arm injury -- to
record it and take it on tour. He wound up playing only three of the
concerts before the coronavirus pandemic canceled the remainder.
For a pianist whose stardom was fueled by dazzling performances of
Romantic concertos, Mr. Lang's venture into Bach's touchstone score
was a risk. There is a large discography of exceptional recordings.
And what constitutes proper Baroque style is hotly debated, even
among specialists.
Mr. Lang's seriousness of purpose permeates his "Goldbergs." Still,
indulgences appear from the first measures of the tranquil opening
Aria, which provides the bass line (and harmonic patterns) from
which Bach generated 30 variations. Mr. Lang takes a restrained
tempo and plays with warm, subdued sound. His execution of clipped
rhythmic figures and embellishments is somewhat pronounced, though
within the bounds of Bachian style.
But Mr. Lang can't resist tugging and pulling at phrases. The result
is that the Aria lacks flow and shape. Moment after moment, Mr. Lang
keeps you hanging, and hanging. This opening section has never
seemed so long.
What does it mean to play expressively? Compare classical music to
film. Film buffs recognize overacting in a flash, and won't put up
with it. Mr. Lang, I think, does the equivalent of overacting in
music; his expressivity tips over into exaggeration, even vulgarity.
He has won ardent fans for the sheer brilliance and energy of his
playing. But many also respond to moments of deep expression, when
he sure seems to be doing something to the music, almost always
reflected in his physical mannerisms.
In classical music, unlike in film, players are often performing
repertory works, like the "Goldberg" Variations, which are familiar
to their audiences. Listeners are judging a performance based on its
differences from others they've heard, not merely in a vacuum. The
key, I'd say, is the proper mixture of bold personality --
difference from the norm -- and subtlety, taste.
Taste is, of course, a subjective thing. But there is reason to
question Mr. Lang's. Yes, a melody can be sung or played with
expressive touches by bending a phrase, prolonging a note, delaying
an entry.
But even music that seems lyrically flowing, with melodic lines that
spin and weave -- like the slow movement of Bach's "Italian"
Concerto, or any Chopin nocturne -- have an underlying structure,
much like the underlying metrical structure of a poem. Even prose
unfolds in clauses, sentences and paragraphs. The risk of stretching
music -- especially to the degree that a sense of pulse becomes weak
-- is that the shape of a phrase, a passage or an entire section
becomes entirely lost in a profusion of expressivity.
Mr. Lang plays the Romantic repertory with a great deal of freedom,
especially rhythmic freedom -- what's known as rubato. Bach's
"Goldberg" Variations certainly invite flexible approaches to rhythm
and pacing. But it's a question of degree, style, taste.
Variation 3, for example, is the first of the periodic contrapuntal
canons in the score, with one line followed a couple of beats later
by its echo. The two lines intertwine gracefully above a steady bass
pattern of eighth notes that soon becomes more animated. Mr. Lang
takes a slow tempo and keeps stretching the mingling lines as they
flow over the bass. But the playing is so yanked around rhythmically
that the music sounds labored. He makes things even fussier by a
constant use of crescendos that swell and subside, like a squeeze
box.
In his 2013 recording, Jeremy Denk approaches the "Goldbergs" intent
on bringing fresh spontaneity to the music. It's certainly a strong
interpretation. In Variation 3, which he plays just a little faster
than Mr. Lang, Mr. Denk is not shy, articulating the bass line with
detached staccato touch and giving lyrical independence to the two
upper lines. Yet the performance is lithe, undulant and cogently
phrased. It's lovely.
On the young pianist Beatrice Rana's splendid 2017 recording, she
takes a quicker tempo, yet plays with beguilingly subdued sound and
just a trace of impishness. Bach structures his variations in two
sections, each one repeated. In Ms. Rana's performance of Variation
3, each section seems like it's emitted in a single breath.
Mr. Lang fares better in the faster, more pulsing variations. But
even in these -- for example the 10th, a bracing four-voice fughetta
-- he can't help himself. On the surface this is bright, crystalline
playing. Yet Mr. Lang seems determined to project each voice with
emphatic clarity. The music winds up feeling confusingly
complicated. The way he punches out accents is almost pummeling. The
four voices come out clearly, but much more naturally, in Ms. Rana's
spirited yet restrained, nuanced performance.
The 26th Variation is a whirlwind of spiraling passagework that
tests a pianist's technique. Not surprisingly, Mr. Lang dispatches
it effortlessly at a breathless tempo. But so does Ms. Rana, who
plays with wondrous lightness and sparkle, yet uncanny poise, which
actually enhances the excitement: You listen in awe, wondering how
she can bring out both qualities at once.
The sublime 25th Variation, a slow, achingly lyrical rumination with
passages that explore bold realms of chromatic harmony, invites a
performer to play with brooding expressivity. But Mr. Lang's
performance is so contorted I find it almost unlistenable. Both Ms.
Rana and Mr. Denk play the music eloquently in seven minutes or
less. Mr. Lang's lugubrious account clocks in at over 10 minutes.
It's like he's attempting to show us how deeply he feels the music,
to prove that it's truly coming from his heart. But as a listener I
don't care about his feelings; I care about mine. He has to make
this music touch me, not himself.
Mr. Lang brought enormous dedication to his "Goldbergs" project. Yet
in an admiring 1940 review of the distinguished pianist Josef
Lhevinne, Virgil Thomson wrote that "any authoritative execution
derives as much of its excellence from what the artist does not do
as from what he does." Mr. Lang surely does too much.
I'm probably in the minority here, but at least to my ears Lang Lang is no fake or mere showman. The man has an enviable pianistic prowess which, in concert, is fused to a natural verve that proves very rewarding.

The problem is two-fold. First, his recordings are pretty lousy. Because of those CDs, I intensely disliked his work for years. Then one day I was assigned to review a concert where he was the soloist in the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1. Was expecting to sit through the performance begrudgingly, but was surprised to find myself enjoying it: His creamy tone, pellucid voicing, and willingness to take interpretive risks. It was a delightful experience, frankly maybe the most memorable performance I'd heard in concert of that warhorse. Lang Lang live sounds nothing like the percussive, hectoring automaton pounding away in those harsh DG productions. Whether the problem lies with the pianist, the production team, or both for this problem I can't say. Second, he ought to more judiciously choose his repertoire. I haven't heard Lang Lang's take on the Goldberg Variations and, honestly, don't want to. It seems like a poor fit for his talents. Instead of Bach, he ought to be playing music by Alkan, Henselt, Liszt, Scharwenka, Medtner, Rubinstein, et al. The Goldberg Variations require a sober, perhaps self-effacing temperament to successfully render; qualities which run against Lang Lang's grain.

For the record, I also don't think much of Denk's playing; which I find simultaneously twee, micro-managed, and dull. At least one can say this much about Lang Lang: Boring he is not, however one may disagree with his approach.
Henk vT
2020-10-20 22:07:13 UTC
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Post by Néstor Castiglione
I'm probably in the minority here, but at least to my ears Lang Lang is no fake or mere showman.
You have a point: LL is no fake or mere showman. The Liberace's of this world don't record the Goldberg (twice). Somehow LL's pianistic and musical talents don't match.

Henk
Owen
2020-10-21 14:07:17 UTC
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Post by Henk vT
Post by Néstor Castiglione
I'm probably in the minority here, but at least to my ears Lang Lang is no fake or mere showman.
You have a point: LL is no fake or mere showman. The Liberace's of this world don't record the Goldberg (twice). Somehow LL's pianistic and musical talents don't match.
Henk
He's got the chops to play anything, technically. (disregarding his
recent injury). I liked him in Prokofiev. Disliked him in Beethoven. It
doesn't appear he's willfully going against tradition, but more like
there's a disconnect between the music and his mind.

Longtime listeners (like us) have milestones in familiar pieces that we
measure performers by whether they hit them or not. Of course, within
these lie our musical biases. If someone had only heard Beethoven from
LL, it would sound natural to them.

-Owen
JohnGavin
2020-10-21 15:28:38 UTC
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Post by Owen
Post by Henk vT
Post by Néstor Castiglione
I'm probably in the minority here, but at least to my ears Lang Lang is no fake or mere showman.
You have a point: LL is no fake or mere showman. The Liberace's of this world don't record the Goldberg (twice). Somehow LL's pianistic and musical talents don't match.
Henk
He's got the chops to play anything, technically. (disregarding his
recent injury). I liked him in Prokofiev. Disliked him in Beethoven. It
doesn't appear he's willfully going against tradition, but more like
there's a disconnect between the music and his mind.
Longtime listeners (like us) have milestones in familiar pieces that we
measure performers by whether they hit them or not. Of course, within
these lie our musical biases. If someone had only heard Beethoven from
LL, it would sound natural to them.
-Owen
It seems like he undertook the Goldbergs because of his injuries. Baroque keyboard writing (harpsichord) lay under the hands and avoid a lot of the strain of virtuosic writing of the 19th and 20th centuries. It doesn’t demand huge sonorities which involve the type of arm weight which might’ve brought about his problems in the first place. The question is, if he never suffered these injuries, would he have undertaken the Goldberg Variations or Bach in general. I don’t know the answer, but I would guess not.

Perhaps the calculation was that by doing this, audiences would feel “he’s not only a great pianist, but a deep musician as well“. I would say that he is a fearless pianist, and that is saying a lot. I’m not sure about greatness here, but that’s just my perception.
Owen
2020-10-22 03:13:20 UTC
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Post by JohnGavin
Post by Owen
Post by Henk vT
Post by Néstor Castiglione
I'm probably in the minority here, but at least to my ears Lang Lang is no fake or mere showman.
You have a point: LL is no fake or mere showman. The Liberace's of this world don't record the Goldberg (twice). Somehow LL's pianistic and musical talents don't match.
Henk
He's got the chops to play anything, technically. (disregarding his
recent injury). I liked him in Prokofiev. Disliked him in Beethoven. It
doesn't appear he's willfully going against tradition, but more like
there's a disconnect between the music and his mind.
Longtime listeners (like us) have milestones in familiar pieces that we
measure performers by whether they hit them or not. Of course, within
these lie our musical biases. If someone had only heard Beethoven from
LL, it would sound natural to them.
-Owen
It seems like he undertook the Goldbergs because of his injuries. Baroque keyboard writing (harpsichord) lay under the hands and avoid a lot of the strain of virtuosic writing of the 19th and 20th centuries. It doesn’t demand huge sonorities which involve the type of arm weight which might’ve brought about his problems in the first place. The question is, if he never suffered these injuries, would he have undertaken the Goldberg Variations or Bach in general. I don’t know the answer, but I would guess not.
Perhaps the calculation was that by doing this, audiences would feel “he’s not only a great pianist, but a deep musician as well“. I would say that he is a fearless pianist, and that is saying a lot. I’m not sure about greatness here, but that’s just my perception.
It's possible, but as an amateur (very amateur) pianist, if I hurt my
hands, even the slightest movement could retrigger the injury, it
wouldn't have to be a large stretch or FFFFFF sections. Plus, I don't
think of the Goldbergs as being technically easy, or even moderately easy.

My opinion is that he's at the point where he wants to be known more as
a serious artist, and not a trick pony. I personally hope he gets to
where he wants to be.

-Owen
dk
2020-10-22 09:40:18 UTC
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I would be curious to find out if any of the
folks who posted in this thread has had the
chance to listen to Lang van Bang in a live
concert -- or are all the opinions based on
listening only to recordings and YT clips?

Thx

dk
Henk vT
2020-10-22 13:43:26 UTC
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Permalink
Post by dk
I would be curious to find out if any of the
folks who posted in this thread has had the
chance to listen to Lang van Bang in a live
concert -- or are all the opinions based on
listening only to recordings and YT clips?
I'm guilty of "only". Saw him on video, heard him on the radio, listened to recordings ... Somehow I wasn't interested in hearing him live.

Henk
dk
2020-10-22 18:14:11 UTC
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Post by Henk vT
Post by dk
I would be curious to find out if any of the
folks who posted in this thread has had the
chance to listen to Lang van Bang in a live
concert -- or are all the opinions based on
listening only to recordings and YT clips?
I'm guilty of "only". Saw him on video, heard
him on the radio, listened to recordings ...
Somehow I wasn't interested in hearing him live.
I wanted to hear him live precisely in order to
verify my impressions from hearing his recordings.
Let's just say that after this experiment I do not
want to ever hear him again, whether live or in any
other format.

From my listener experience, I tend to group music
artists into 3 broad groups:

1) Those who sound better live than on record:
this buckets includes the likes of Richter,
Cziffra, Berman, Sokolov most of the time,
Monique de la Bruchollerie, and maybe
occasionally a few others.

2) Those who sound about the same live as they
sound on records. Note that I use "sound"
in the broadest possible sense, including
not only sound quality but also emotional
projection and stage presence. This group
includes pianists like HJ Lim, Ashkenazy,
Argerich, Derzhavina, the younger Pollini.

3) Those who sound worse (less impressive)
live than on records. This group includes
Arrauthritis, Brendull, recent Pawllini,
Meowrray Purrahia, and many many others.

Lang van Bang does not even make it into the
3rd group. He is a circus act. The Chopin
scherzi I heard him live were absolutely
the worst I have ever heard in my life,
worse than anyone could possibly imagine.
Anyone other than Lang van Bang playing
like that would have been thrown out of
any music school on this planet, except
perhaps Curtis where Graffman presides.
Unfortunately, he is laughing all the
way to the bank, just like Liberace.

dk
Henk vT
2020-10-22 19:08:40 UTC
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Post by dk
Post by Henk vT
Post by dk
I would be curious to find out if any of the
folks who posted in this thread has had the
chance to listen to Lang van Bang in a live
concert -- or are all the opinions based on
listening only to recordings and YT clips?
I'm guilty of "only". Saw him on video, heard
him on the radio, listened to recordings ...
Somehow I wasn't interested in hearing him live.
I wanted to hear him live precisely in order to
verify my impressions from hearing his recordings.
Let's just say that after this experiment I do not
want to ever hear him again, whether live or in any
other format.
From my listener experience, I tend to group music
this buckets includes the likes of Richter,
Cziffra, Berman, Sokolov most of the time,
Monique de la Bruchollerie, and maybe
occasionally a few others.
2) Those who sound about the same live as they
sound on records. Note that I use "sound"
in the broadest possible sense, including
not only sound quality but also emotional
projection and stage presence. This group
includes pianists like HJ Lim, Ashkenazy,
Argerich, Derzhavina, the younger Pollini.
3) Those who sound worse (less impressive)
live than on records. This group includes
Arrauthritis, Brendull, recent Pawllini,
Meowrray Purrahia, and many many others.
Lang van Bang does not even make it into the
3rd group. He is a circus act. The Chopin
scherzi I heard him live were absolutely
the worst I have ever heard in my life,
worse than anyone could possibly imagine.
Anyone other than Lang van Bang playing
like that would have been thrown out of
any music school on this planet, except
perhaps Curtis where Graffman presides.
Unfortunately, he is laughing all the
way to the bank, just like Liberace.
Thanks! If I understand you correctly, I have been spared an unpleasant experience. That may explain why I am still listening to LL. With Trifonov (whom I did hear live!) that has become impossible.

Henk
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
2020-10-23 19:26:01 UTC
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Post by dk
Post by Henk vT
Post by dk
I would be curious to find out if any of the
folks who posted in this thread has had the
chance to listen to Lang van Bang in a live
concert -- or are all the opinions based on
listening only to recordings and YT clips?
I'm guilty of "only". Saw him on video, heard
him on the radio, listened to recordings ...
Somehow I wasn't interested in hearing him live.
I wanted to hear him live precisely in order to
verify my impressions from hearing his recordings.
Let's just say that after this experiment I do not
want to ever hear him again, whether live or in any
other format.
From my listener experience, I tend to group music
this buckets includes the likes of Richter,
Cziffra, Berman, Sokolov most of the time,
Monique de la Bruchollerie, and maybe
occasionally a few others.
2) Those who sound about the same live as they
sound on records. Note that I use "sound"
in the broadest possible sense, including
not only sound quality but also emotional
projection and stage presence. This group
includes pianists like HJ Lim, Ashkenazy,
Argerich, Derzhavina, the younger Pollini.
3) Those who sound worse (less impressive)
live than on records. This group includes
Arrauthritis, Brendull, recent Pawllini,
Meowrray Purrahia, and many many others.
Lang van Bang does not even make it into the
3rd group. He is a circus act. The Chopin
scherzi I heard him live were absolutely
the worst I have ever heard in my life,
worse than anyone could possibly imagine.
Anyone other than Lang van Bang playing
like that would have been thrown out of
any music school on this planet, except
perhaps Curtis where Graffman presides.
Unfortunately, he is laughing all the
way to the bank, just like Liberace.
dk
I have to agree with dk on Lang. All the very unfortunate with me in these 17 years in this century was I imagined it was I myself exactly whom dk was criticizing of his performances under the name of Bang. Maybe, I am as well 4th kind, but at least dk didn't fooled around my own few recordings (thanks for this fact).

Shalom,
YM
Herman
2020-10-24 01:22:52 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by John Fitzgerald Kennedy
I have to agree with dk on Lang. All the very unfortunate with me in these 17 years in this century was I imagined it was I myself exactly whom dk was criticizing of his performances under the name of Bang.
Only three years behind....
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
2020-10-24 12:08:35 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by dk
Lang van Bang does not even make it into the
3rd group. He is a circus act. The Chopin
scherzi I heard him live were absolutely
the worst I have ever heard in my life,
worse than anyone could possibly imagine.
Anyone other than Lang van Bang playing
like that would have been thrown out of
any music school on this planet, except
perhaps Curtis where Graffman presides.
Unfortunately, he is laughing all the
way to the bank, just like Liberace.
dk
I have to agree with dk on Lang. All the very unfortunate with me in these <<recent >>17 years in this century was I imagined it was I myself exactly whom dk was criticizing of his performances under the name of Bang. Maybe, I am as well 4th kind, but at least dk didn't fooled around my own few recordings (thanks for this fact).
And, in particular about my Brahms Rhapsody Opus 79 no.1 recorded at age 14 (The work was my specialty).

Shalom,
YM
Ricardo Jimenez
2020-10-24 14:27:47 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On Sat, 24 Oct 2020 05:08:35 -0700 (PDT), John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Post by John Fitzgerald Kennedy
And, in particular about my Brahms Rhapsody Opus 79 no.1 recorded at age 14 (The work was my specialty).
Shalom,
YM
Please identify yourself for us less clever readers who can't figure
it out. Thanks.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
2020-10-24 15:06:31 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
On Sat, 24 Oct 2020 05:08:35 -0700 (PDT), John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Post by John Fitzgerald Kennedy
And, in particular about my Brahms Rhapsody Opus 79 no.1 recorded at age 14 (The work was my specialty).
Shalom,
YM
Please identify yourself for us less clever readers who can't figure
it out. Thanks.
If there was ever such a need. Tom Deacon destroyed that tradition here in r.m.c.(r), no?
And, moreover, I only follow dk's posts. Some exceptions to whom I occasionally read are John Gavin, Mark Obert-Thorn, and Alan Cooper.

YM
vhorowitz
2020-10-24 15:18:31 UTC
Reply
Permalink
YM is Yngwie Malmsteen, of course.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
2020-10-24 15:54:29 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
On Sat, 24 Oct 2020 05:08:35 -0700 (PDT), John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Post by John Fitzgerald Kennedy
And, in particular about my Brahms Rhapsody Opus 79 no.1 recorded at age 14 (The work was my specialty).
Shalom,
YM
Please identify yourself for us less clever readers who can't figure
it out. Thanks.
If there was ever such a need. Tom Deacon ruined that custom here in r.m.c.(r), no?
And, moreover, I only follow dk's posts as good old tradition since the era of r.m.c.. Some exceptions to whom I occasionally still read are John Gavin, Mark Obert-Thorn, and Alan Cooper.

YM
raymond....@gmail.com
2020-10-20 22:27:01 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Néstor Castiglione
Post by Frank Forman
Sounds like Sir Simon, who I find is also too fussy?
NYT: Lang Lang: The Pianist Who Plays Too Muchly
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/04/arts/music/lang-lang-bach-goldberg-variations.html
On a new recording of Bach's "Goldberg" Variations, the superstar
artist stretches the music beyond taste.
Lang Lang's seriousness of purpose permeates his recording of Bach's
"Goldberg" Variations. Still, indulgences appear from the first
measures.
Lang Lang's seriousness of purpose permeates his recording of Bach's
"Goldberg" Variations. Still, indulgences appear from the first
measures.Credit...Roman Pilipey/EPA, via Shutterstock
Anthony Tommasini
By Anthony Tommasini
Last year Lang Lang released "Piano Book," an album of pieces that
fostered his childhood passion for the piano: short Chopin works,
folk songs, "Chopsticks." A deluxe edition includes a reprint of the
score for Beethoven's "Für Elise," annotated with Mr. Lang's
handwritten suggestions for student pianists.
Above the opening measure, Mr. Lang writes, "Don't just play, feel
the notes softly come out from your fingers and heart." At the end,
he has a final reminder: "The main melody comes many times, must be
played with different shapes, colors, characters."
These two comments suggest why -- for all his playing's uncanny
virtuosity, wondrous control of shadings and sound and unbridled
urgency -- I and many others have long found Mr. Lang's performances
overindulgently expressive and marred by exaggerated interpretive
touches.
What does it mean to feel the notes come from your heart? How do you
do that? And if a melody in a short piece keeps returning, as in
"Für Elise," why must it be played differently each time? That
approach risks making the music seem mannered, even manipulated. The
comment suggests that it doesn't occur to Mr. Lang that maintaining
the essential contour, flow and character of a wistful melody like
this one might actually enhance the expressive impact of the music.
And for all the soft-spoken beauty of his performance, it comes
across as fussy and affected.
My frustrations with Mr. Lang also apply to his latest recording,
which includes two accounts of Bach's monumental "Goldberg"
Variations. One was made in a studio in Berlin; the other was
recorded live in St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany, where Bach
worked for the last 27 years of his life. I focused on the studio
version, which Mr. Lang said he prefers in a recent interview with
New York Times -- though he added that he likes the spontaneity of
the live performance.
Mr. Lang could play this formidable piece from memory as a teenager,
but waited until this spring, just before turning 38 -- and after
being sidelined for more than a year with a left-arm injury -- to
record it and take it on tour. He wound up playing only three of the
concerts before the coronavirus pandemic canceled the remainder.
For a pianist whose stardom was fueled by dazzling performances of
Romantic concertos, Mr. Lang's venture into Bach's touchstone score
was a risk. There is a large discography of exceptional recordings.
And what constitutes proper Baroque style is hotly debated, even
among specialists.
Mr. Lang's seriousness of purpose permeates his "Goldbergs." Still,
indulgences appear from the first measures of the tranquil opening
Aria, which provides the bass line (and harmonic patterns) from
which Bach generated 30 variations. Mr. Lang takes a restrained
tempo and plays with warm, subdued sound. His execution of clipped
rhythmic figures and embellishments is somewhat pronounced, though
within the bounds of Bachian style.
But Mr. Lang can't resist tugging and pulling at phrases. The result
is that the Aria lacks flow and shape. Moment after moment, Mr. Lang
keeps you hanging, and hanging. This opening section has never
seemed so long.
What does it mean to play expressively? Compare classical music to
film. Film buffs recognize overacting in a flash, and won't put up
with it. Mr. Lang, I think, does the equivalent of overacting in
music; his expressivity tips over into exaggeration, even vulgarity.
He has won ardent fans for the sheer brilliance and energy of his
playing. But many also respond to moments of deep expression, when
he sure seems to be doing something to the music, almost always
reflected in his physical mannerisms.
In classical music, unlike in film, players are often performing
repertory works, like the "Goldberg" Variations, which are familiar
to their audiences. Listeners are judging a performance based on its
differences from others they've heard, not merely in a vacuum. The
key, I'd say, is the proper mixture of bold personality --
difference from the norm -- and subtlety, taste.
Taste is, of course, a subjective thing. But there is reason to
question Mr. Lang's. Yes, a melody can be sung or played with
expressive touches by bending a phrase, prolonging a note, delaying
an entry.
But even music that seems lyrically flowing, with melodic lines that
spin and weave -- like the slow movement of Bach's "Italian"
Concerto, or any Chopin nocturne -- have an underlying structure,
much like the underlying metrical structure of a poem. Even prose
unfolds in clauses, sentences and paragraphs. The risk of stretching
music -- especially to the degree that a sense of pulse becomes weak
-- is that the shape of a phrase, a passage or an entire section
becomes entirely lost in a profusion of expressivity.
Mr. Lang plays the Romantic repertory with a great deal of freedom,
especially rhythmic freedom -- what's known as rubato. Bach's
"Goldberg" Variations certainly invite flexible approaches to rhythm
and pacing. But it's a question of degree, style, taste.
Variation 3, for example, is the first of the periodic contrapuntal
canons in the score, with one line followed a couple of beats later
by its echo. The two lines intertwine gracefully above a steady bass
pattern of eighth notes that soon becomes more animated. Mr. Lang
takes a slow tempo and keeps stretching the mingling lines as they
flow over the bass. But the playing is so yanked around rhythmically
that the music sounds labored. He makes things even fussier by a
constant use of crescendos that swell and subside, like a squeeze
box.
In his 2013 recording, Jeremy Denk approaches the "Goldbergs" intent
on bringing fresh spontaneity to the music. It's certainly a strong
interpretation. In Variation 3, which he plays just a little faster
than Mr. Lang, Mr. Denk is not shy, articulating the bass line with
detached staccato touch and giving lyrical independence to the two
upper lines. Yet the performance is lithe, undulant and cogently
phrased. It's lovely.
On the young pianist Beatrice Rana's splendid 2017 recording, she
takes a quicker tempo, yet plays with beguilingly subdued sound and
just a trace of impishness. Bach structures his variations in two
sections, each one repeated. In Ms. Rana's performance of Variation
3, each section seems like it's emitted in a single breath.
Mr. Lang fares better in the faster, more pulsing variations. But
even in these -- for example the 10th, a bracing four-voice fughetta
-- he can't help himself. On the surface this is bright, crystalline
playing. Yet Mr. Lang seems determined to project each voice with
emphatic clarity. The music winds up feeling confusingly
complicated. The way he punches out accents is almost pummeling. The
four voices come out clearly, but much more naturally, in Ms. Rana's
spirited yet restrained, nuanced performance.
The 26th Variation is a whirlwind of spiraling passagework that
tests a pianist's technique. Not surprisingly, Mr. Lang dispatches
it effortlessly at a breathless tempo. But so does Ms. Rana, who
plays with wondrous lightness and sparkle, yet uncanny poise, which
actually enhances the excitement: You listen in awe, wondering how
she can bring out both qualities at once.
The sublime 25th Variation, a slow, achingly lyrical rumination with
passages that explore bold realms of chromatic harmony, invites a
performer to play with brooding expressivity. But Mr. Lang's
performance is so contorted I find it almost unlistenable. Both Ms.
Rana and Mr. Denk play the music eloquently in seven minutes or
less. Mr. Lang's lugubrious account clocks in at over 10 minutes.
It's like he's attempting to show us how deeply he feels the music,
to prove that it's truly coming from his heart. But as a listener I
don't care about his feelings; I care about mine. He has to make
this music touch me, not himself.
Mr. Lang brought enormous dedication to his "Goldbergs" project. Yet
in an admiring 1940 review of the distinguished pianist Josef
Lhevinne, Virgil Thomson wrote that "any authoritative execution
derives as much of its excellence from what the artist does not do
as from what he does." Mr. Lang surely does too much.
I'm probably in the minority here, but at least to my ears Lang Lang is no fake or mere showman. The man has an enviable pianistic prowess which, in concert, is fused to a natural verve that proves very rewarding.
The problem is two-fold. First, his recordings are pretty lousy. Because of those CDs, I intensely disliked his work for years. Then one day I was assigned to review a concert where he was the soloist in the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1. Was expecting to sit through the performance begrudgingly, but was surprised to find myself enjoying it: His creamy tone, pellucid voicing, and willingness to take interpretive risks. It was a delightful experience, frankly maybe the most memorable performance I'd heard in concert of that warhorse. Lang Lang live sounds nothing like the percussive, hectoring automaton pounding away in those harsh DG productions. Whether the problem lies with the pianist, the production team, or both for this problem I can't say. Second, he ought to more judiciously choose his repertoire. I haven't heard Lang Lang's take on the Goldberg Variations and, honestly, don't want to. It seems like a poor fit for his talents. Instead of Bach, he ought to be playing music by Alkan, Henselt, Liszt, Scharwenka, Medtner, Rubinstein, et al. The Goldberg Variations require a sober, perhaps self-effacing temperament to successfully render; qualities which run against Lang Lang's grain.
For the record, I also don't think much of Denk's playing; which I find simultaneously twee, micro-managed, and dull. At least one can say this much about Lang Lang: Boring he is not, however one may disagree with his approach.
Largely, I agree with above assessment. The media/hype machine got into the act (because of his name maybe?) and rather than mostly affecting LL it affected those who took it all in, and were swayed either for, or against, the pianist. I am not an expert pianophile by any means, but I do know that Bach is not the best repertoire for him. Or his undeniable talent, which is better spent on the flashy repertoire, Liszt et al, as mentioned above, where zillions of notes are required.

Ray Hall, Taree
Herman
2020-10-21 08:21:52 UTC
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Permalink
The problem is two-fold. [...] Lang Lang live sounds nothing like the percussive, hectoring automaton pounding away in those harsh DG productions. Whether the problem lies with the pianist, the production team, or both for this problem I can't say. Second, he ought to more judiciously choose his repertoire. I haven't heard Lang Lang's take on the Goldberg Variations and, honestly, don't want to. It seems like a poor fit for his talents."
Every pianist sounds different live than on his records, where it's not just the engineering, but also the quality of your hifi set (if any) and the room. Short of buying you a better hifi LL cannot help this, and indeed DG has a bit of a reputation of dulling and flattening its piano recordings.
However the choice to record the Goldbergs (twice) is 100% on Lang Lang.
Neil
2020-10-21 13:48:12 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Néstor Castiglione
For the record, I also don't think much of Denk's playing; which I find simultaneously twee, micro-managed, and dull. At least one can say this much about Lang Lang: Boring he is not, however one may disagree with his approach.
I listened to Lang Lang's Goldbergs and found it a bit fussy. But he's serious artist and clearly prepared his recording very carefully.

Then I listened to some of the favourites. Ekaterina Dershavina was one that really stood out for me. She just gives us the music straight with no mucking about with distended tempi, buckled phraseology or weird voicing, and has a technique to sail through the myriad complexities of this fascinating score.

I found Ignacio Prego's harpsichord performance similarly enthralling - a tip off from here!
number_six
2020-10-22 20:50:42 UTC
Reply
Permalink
snip< Lang Lang live sounds nothing like the percussive, hectoring automaton pounding away in those harsh DG productions.
Quite a turn of phrase here.

Hectoring is LL's Achilles heel? ;-)
g***@gmail.com
2020-10-21 22:58:36 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Frank Forman
Sounds like Sir Simon, who I find is also too fussy?
NYT: Lang Lang: The Pianist Who Plays Too Muchly
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/04/arts/music/lang-lang-bach-goldberg-variations.html
On a new recording of Bach's "Goldberg" Variations, the superstar
artist stretches the music beyond taste.
Lang Lang's seriousness of purpose permeates his recording of Bach's
"Goldberg" Variations. Still, indulgences appear from the first
measures.
Lang Lang's seriousness of purpose permeates his recording of Bach's
"Goldberg" Variations. Still, indulgences appear from the first
measures.Credit...Roman Pilipey/EPA, via Shutterstock
Anthony Tommasini
By Anthony Tommasini
Last year Lang Lang released "Piano Book," an album of pieces that
fostered his childhood passion for the piano: short Chopin works,
folk songs, "Chopsticks." A deluxe edition includes a reprint of the
score for Beethoven's "Für Elise," annotated with Mr. Lang's
handwritten suggestions for student pianists.
Above the opening measure, Mr. Lang writes, "Don't just play, feel
the notes softly come out from your fingers and heart." At the end,
he has a final reminder: "The main melody comes many times, must be
played with different shapes, colors, characters."
These two comments suggest why -- for all his playing's uncanny
virtuosity, wondrous control of shadings and sound and unbridled
urgency -- I and many others have long found Mr. Lang's performances
overindulgently expressive and marred by exaggerated interpretive
touches.
What does it mean to feel the notes come from your heart? How do you
do that? And if a melody in a short piece keeps returning, as in
"Für Elise," why must it be played differently each time? That
approach risks making the music seem mannered, even manipulated. The
comment suggests that it doesn't occur to Mr. Lang that maintaining
the essential contour, flow and character of a wistful melody like
this one might actually enhance the expressive impact of the music.
And for all the soft-spoken beauty of his performance, it comes
across as fussy and affected.
My frustrations with Mr. Lang also apply to his latest recording,
which includes two accounts of Bach's monumental "Goldberg"
Variations. One was made in a studio in Berlin; the other was
recorded live in St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany, where Bach
worked for the last 27 years of his life. I focused on the studio
version, which Mr. Lang said he prefers in a recent interview with
New York Times -- though he added that he likes the spontaneity of
the live performance.
Mr. Lang could play this formidable piece from memory as a teenager,
but waited until this spring, just before turning 38 -- and after
being sidelined for more than a year with a left-arm injury -- to
record it and take it on tour. He wound up playing only three of the
concerts before the coronavirus pandemic canceled the remainder.
For a pianist whose stardom was fueled by dazzling performances of
Romantic concertos, Mr. Lang's venture into Bach's touchstone score
was a risk. There is a large discography of exceptional recordings.
And what constitutes proper Baroque style is hotly debated, even
among specialists.
Mr. Lang's seriousness of purpose permeates his "Goldbergs." Still,
indulgences appear from the first measures of the tranquil opening
Aria, which provides the bass line (and harmonic patterns) from
which Bach generated 30 variations. Mr. Lang takes a restrained
tempo and plays with warm, subdued sound. His execution of clipped
rhythmic figures and embellishments is somewhat pronounced, though
within the bounds of Bachian style.
But Mr. Lang can't resist tugging and pulling at phrases. The result
is that the Aria lacks flow and shape. Moment after moment, Mr. Lang
keeps you hanging, and hanging. This opening section has never
seemed so long.
What does it mean to play expressively? Compare classical music to
film. Film buffs recognize overacting in a flash, and won't put up
with it. Mr. Lang, I think, does the equivalent of overacting in
music; his expressivity tips over into exaggeration, even vulgarity.
He has won ardent fans for the sheer brilliance and energy of his
playing. But many also respond to moments of deep expression, when
he sure seems to be doing something to the music, almost always
reflected in his physical mannerisms.
In classical music, unlike in film, players are often performing
repertory works, like the "Goldberg" Variations, which are familiar
to their audiences. Listeners are judging a performance based on its
differences from others they've heard, not merely in a vacuum. The
key, I'd say, is the proper mixture of bold personality --
difference from the norm -- and subtlety, taste.
Taste is, of course, a subjective thing. But there is reason to
question Mr. Lang's. Yes, a melody can be sung or played with
expressive touches by bending a phrase, prolonging a note, delaying
an entry.
But even music that seems lyrically flowing, with melodic lines that
spin and weave -- like the slow movement of Bach's "Italian"
Concerto, or any Chopin nocturne -- have an underlying structure,
much like the underlying metrical structure of a poem. Even prose
unfolds in clauses, sentences and paragraphs. The risk of stretching
music -- especially to the degree that a sense of pulse becomes weak
-- is that the shape of a phrase, a passage or an entire section
becomes entirely lost in a profusion of expressivity.
Mr. Lang plays the Romantic repertory with a great deal of freedom,
especially rhythmic freedom -- what's known as rubato. Bach's
"Goldberg" Variations certainly invite flexible approaches to rhythm
and pacing. But it's a question of degree, style, taste.
Variation 3, for example, is the first of the periodic contrapuntal
canons in the score, with one line followed a couple of beats later
by its echo. The two lines intertwine gracefully above a steady bass
pattern of eighth notes that soon becomes more animated. Mr. Lang
takes a slow tempo and keeps stretching the mingling lines as they
flow over the bass. But the playing is so yanked around rhythmically
that the music sounds labored. He makes things even fussier by a
constant use of crescendos that swell and subside, like a squeeze
box.
In his 2013 recording, Jeremy Denk approaches the "Goldbergs" intent
on bringing fresh spontaneity to the music. It's certainly a strong
interpretation. In Variation 3, which he plays just a little faster
than Mr. Lang, Mr. Denk is not shy, articulating the bass line with
detached staccato touch and giving lyrical independence to the two
upper lines. Yet the performance is lithe, undulant and cogently
phrased. It's lovely.
On the young pianist Beatrice Rana's splendid 2017 recording, she
takes a quicker tempo, yet plays with beguilingly subdued sound and
just a trace of impishness. Bach structures his variations in two
sections, each one repeated. In Ms. Rana's performance of Variation
3, each section seems like it's emitted in a single breath.
Mr. Lang fares better in the faster, more pulsing variations. But
even in these -- for example the 10th, a bracing four-voice fughetta
-- he can't help himself. On the surface this is bright, crystalline
playing. Yet Mr. Lang seems determined to project each voice with
emphatic clarity. The music winds up feeling confusingly
complicated. The way he punches out accents is almost pummeling. The
four voices come out clearly, but much more naturally, in Ms. Rana's
spirited yet restrained, nuanced performance.
The 26th Variation is a whirlwind of spiraling passagework that
tests a pianist's technique. Not surprisingly, Mr. Lang dispatches
it effortlessly at a breathless tempo. But so does Ms. Rana, who
plays with wondrous lightness and sparkle, yet uncanny poise, which
actually enhances the excitement: You listen in awe, wondering how
she can bring out both qualities at once.
The sublime 25th Variation, a slow, achingly lyrical rumination with
passages that explore bold realms of chromatic harmony, invites a
performer to play with brooding expressivity. But Mr. Lang's
performance is so contorted I find it almost unlistenable. Both Ms.
Rana and Mr. Denk play the music eloquently in seven minutes or
less. Mr. Lang's lugubrious account clocks in at over 10 minutes.
It's like he's attempting to show us how deeply he feels the music,
to prove that it's truly coming from his heart. But as a listener I
don't care about his feelings; I care about mine. He has to make
this music touch me, not himself.
Mr. Lang brought enormous dedication to his "Goldbergs" project. Yet
in an admiring 1940 review of the distinguished pianist Josef
Lhevinne, Virgil Thomson wrote that "any authoritative execution
derives as much of its excellence from what the artist does not do
as from what he does." Mr. Lang surely does too much.
From that article, I think that this admission is most relevant:

- And what constitutes proper Baroque style is hotly debated, even among specialists.
g***@gmail.com
2020-10-23 20:00:05 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by g***@gmail.com
Post by Frank Forman
Sounds like Sir Simon, who I find is also too fussy?
NYT: Lang Lang: The Pianist Who Plays Too Muchly
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/04/arts/music/lang-lang-bach-goldberg-variations.html
On a new recording of Bach's "Goldberg" Variations, the superstar
artist stretches the music beyond taste.
Lang Lang's seriousness of purpose permeates his recording of Bach's
"Goldberg" Variations. Still, indulgences appear from the first
measures.
Lang Lang's seriousness of purpose permeates his recording of Bach's
"Goldberg" Variations. Still, indulgences appear from the first
measures.Credit...Roman Pilipey/EPA, via Shutterstock
Anthony Tommasini
By Anthony Tommasini
Last year Lang Lang released "Piano Book," an album of pieces that
fostered his childhood passion for the piano: short Chopin works,
folk songs, "Chopsticks." A deluxe edition includes a reprint of the
score for Beethoven's "Für Elise," annotated with Mr. Lang's
handwritten suggestions for student pianists.
Above the opening measure, Mr. Lang writes, "Don't just play, feel
the notes softly come out from your fingers and heart." At the end,
he has a final reminder: "The main melody comes many times, must be
played with different shapes, colors, characters."
These two comments suggest why -- for all his playing's uncanny
virtuosity, wondrous control of shadings and sound and unbridled
urgency -- I and many others have long found Mr. Lang's performances
overindulgently expressive and marred by exaggerated interpretive
touches.
What does it mean to feel the notes come from your heart? How do you
do that? And if a melody in a short piece keeps returning, as in
"Für Elise," why must it be played differently each time? That
approach risks making the music seem mannered, even manipulated. The
comment suggests that it doesn't occur to Mr. Lang that maintaining
the essential contour, flow and character of a wistful melody like
this one might actually enhance the expressive impact of the music.
And for all the soft-spoken beauty of his performance, it comes
across as fussy and affected.
My frustrations with Mr. Lang also apply to his latest recording,
which includes two accounts of Bach's monumental "Goldberg"
Variations. One was made in a studio in Berlin; the other was
recorded live in St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany, where Bach
worked for the last 27 years of his life. I focused on the studio
version, which Mr. Lang said he prefers in a recent interview with
New York Times -- though he added that he likes the spontaneity of
the live performance.
Mr. Lang could play this formidable piece from memory as a teenager,
but waited until this spring, just before turning 38 -- and after
being sidelined for more than a year with a left-arm injury -- to
record it and take it on tour. He wound up playing only three of the
concerts before the coronavirus pandemic canceled the remainder.
For a pianist whose stardom was fueled by dazzling performances of
Romantic concertos, Mr. Lang's venture into Bach's touchstone score
was a risk. There is a large discography of exceptional recordings.
And what constitutes proper Baroque style is hotly debated, even
among specialists.
Mr. Lang's seriousness of purpose permeates his "Goldbergs." Still,
indulgences appear from the first measures of the tranquil opening
Aria, which provides the bass line (and harmonic patterns) from
which Bach generated 30 variations. Mr. Lang takes a restrained
tempo and plays with warm, subdued sound. His execution of clipped
rhythmic figures and embellishments is somewhat pronounced, though
within the bounds of Bachian style.
But Mr. Lang can't resist tugging and pulling at phrases. The result
is that the Aria lacks flow and shape. Moment after moment, Mr. Lang
keeps you hanging, and hanging. This opening section has never
seemed so long.
What does it mean to play expressively? Compare classical music to
film. Film buffs recognize overacting in a flash, and won't put up
with it. Mr. Lang, I think, does the equivalent of overacting in
music; his expressivity tips over into exaggeration, even vulgarity.
He has won ardent fans for the sheer brilliance and energy of his
playing. But many also respond to moments of deep expression, when
he sure seems to be doing something to the music, almost always
reflected in his physical mannerisms.
In classical music, unlike in film, players are often performing
repertory works, like the "Goldberg" Variations, which are familiar
to their audiences. Listeners are judging a performance based on its
differences from others they've heard, not merely in a vacuum. The
key, I'd say, is the proper mixture of bold personality --
difference from the norm -- and subtlety, taste.
Taste is, of course, a subjective thing. But there is reason to
question Mr. Lang's. Yes, a melody can be sung or played with
expressive touches by bending a phrase, prolonging a note, delaying
an entry.
But even music that seems lyrically flowing, with melodic lines that
spin and weave -- like the slow movement of Bach's "Italian"
Concerto, or any Chopin nocturne -- have an underlying structure,
much like the underlying metrical structure of a poem. Even prose
unfolds in clauses, sentences and paragraphs. The risk of stretching
music -- especially to the degree that a sense of pulse becomes weak
-- is that the shape of a phrase, a passage or an entire section
becomes entirely lost in a profusion of expressivity.
Mr. Lang plays the Romantic repertory with a great deal of freedom,
especially rhythmic freedom -- what's known as rubato. Bach's
"Goldberg" Variations certainly invite flexible approaches to rhythm
and pacing. But it's a question of degree, style, taste.
Variation 3, for example, is the first of the periodic contrapuntal
canons in the score, with one line followed a couple of beats later
by its echo. The two lines intertwine gracefully above a steady bass
pattern of eighth notes that soon becomes more animated. Mr. Lang
takes a slow tempo and keeps stretching the mingling lines as they
flow over the bass. But the playing is so yanked around rhythmically
that the music sounds labored. He makes things even fussier by a
constant use of crescendos that swell and subside, like a squeeze
box.
In his 2013 recording, Jeremy Denk approaches the "Goldbergs" intent
on bringing fresh spontaneity to the music. It's certainly a strong
interpretation. In Variation 3, which he plays just a little faster
than Mr. Lang, Mr. Denk is not shy, articulating the bass line with
detached staccato touch and giving lyrical independence to the two
upper lines. Yet the performance is lithe, undulant and cogently
phrased. It's lovely.
On the young pianist Beatrice Rana's splendid 2017 recording, she
takes a quicker tempo, yet plays with beguilingly subdued sound and
just a trace of impishness. Bach structures his variations in two
sections, each one repeated. In Ms. Rana's performance of Variation
3, each section seems like it's emitted in a single breath.
Mr. Lang fares better in the faster, more pulsing variations. But
even in these -- for example the 10th, a bracing four-voice fughetta
-- he can't help himself. On the surface this is bright, crystalline
playing. Yet Mr. Lang seems determined to project each voice with
emphatic clarity. The music winds up feeling confusingly
complicated. The way he punches out accents is almost pummeling. The
four voices come out clearly, but much more naturally, in Ms. Rana's
spirited yet restrained, nuanced performance.
The 26th Variation is a whirlwind of spiraling passagework that
tests a pianist's technique. Not surprisingly, Mr. Lang dispatches
it effortlessly at a breathless tempo. But so does Ms. Rana, who
plays with wondrous lightness and sparkle, yet uncanny poise, which
actually enhances the excitement: You listen in awe, wondering how
she can bring out both qualities at once.
The sublime 25th Variation, a slow, achingly lyrical rumination with
passages that explore bold realms of chromatic harmony, invites a
performer to play with brooding expressivity. But Mr. Lang's
performance is so contorted I find it almost unlistenable. Both Ms.
Rana and Mr. Denk play the music eloquently in seven minutes or
less. Mr. Lang's lugubrious account clocks in at over 10 minutes.
It's like he's attempting to show us how deeply he feels the music,
to prove that it's truly coming from his heart. But as a listener I
don't care about his feelings; I care about mine. He has to make
this music touch me, not himself.
Mr. Lang brought enormous dedication to his "Goldbergs" project. Yet
in an admiring 1940 review of the distinguished pianist Josef
Lhevinne, Virgil Thomson wrote that "any authoritative execution
derives as much of its excellence from what the artist does not do
as from what he does." Mr. Lang surely does too much.
- And what constitutes proper Baroque style is hotly debated, even among specialists.
If Bach could hear how his Goldberg Variations are played today, how would he react?:

https://scorsesewouldbeproud.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/if-jesus-came-back-and-saw-what-was-being-done-in-his-name-hed-never-stop-throwing-up/
dk
2020-10-25 04:59:17 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by g***@gmail.com
Post by g***@gmail.com
Post by Frank Forman
Sounds like Sir Simon, who I find is also too fussy?
NYT: Lang Lang: The Pianist Who Plays Too Muchly
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/04/arts/music/lang-lang-bach-goldberg-variations.html
On a new recording of Bach's "Goldberg" Variations, the superstar
artist stretches the music beyond taste.
Lang Lang's seriousness of purpose permeates his recording of Bach's
"Goldberg" Variations. Still, indulgences appear from the first
measures.
Lang Lang's seriousness of purpose permeates his recording of Bach's
"Goldberg" Variations. Still, indulgences appear from the first
measures.Credit...Roman Pilipey/EPA, via Shutterstock
Anthony Tommasini
By Anthony Tommasini
Last year Lang Lang released "Piano Book," an album of pieces that
fostered his childhood passion for the piano: short Chopin works,
folk songs, "Chopsticks." A deluxe edition includes a reprint of the
score for Beethoven's "Für Elise," annotated with Mr. Lang's
handwritten suggestions for student pianists.
Above the opening measure, Mr. Lang writes, "Don't just play, feel
the notes softly come out from your fingers and heart." At the end,
he has a final reminder: "The main melody comes many times, must be
played with different shapes, colors, characters."
These two comments suggest why -- for all his playing's uncanny
virtuosity, wondrous control of shadings and sound and unbridled
urgency -- I and many others have long found Mr. Lang's performances
overindulgently expressive and marred by exaggerated interpretive
touches.
What does it mean to feel the notes come from your heart? How do you
do that? And if a melody in a short piece keeps returning, as in
"Für Elise," why must it be played differently each time? That
approach risks making the music seem mannered, even manipulated. The
comment suggests that it doesn't occur to Mr. Lang that maintaining
the essential contour, flow and character of a wistful melody like
this one might actually enhance the expressive impact of the music.
And for all the soft-spoken beauty of his performance, it comes
across as fussy and affected.
My frustrations with Mr. Lang also apply to his latest recording,
which includes two accounts of Bach's monumental "Goldberg"
Variations. One was made in a studio in Berlin; the other was
recorded live in St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany, where Bach
worked for the last 27 years of his life. I focused on the studio
version, which Mr. Lang said he prefers in a recent interview with
New York Times -- though he added that he likes the spontaneity of
the live performance.
Mr. Lang could play this formidable piece from memory as a teenager,
but waited until this spring, just before turning 38 -- and after
being sidelined for more than a year with a left-arm injury -- to
record it and take it on tour. He wound up playing only three of the
concerts before the coronavirus pandemic canceled the remainder.
For a pianist whose stardom was fueled by dazzling performances of
Romantic concertos, Mr. Lang's venture into Bach's touchstone score
was a risk. There is a large discography of exceptional recordings.
And what constitutes proper Baroque style is hotly debated, even
among specialists.
Mr. Lang's seriousness of purpose permeates his "Goldbergs." Still,
indulgences appear from the first measures of the tranquil opening
Aria, which provides the bass line (and harmonic patterns) from
which Bach generated 30 variations. Mr. Lang takes a restrained
tempo and plays with warm, subdued sound. His execution of clipped
rhythmic figures and embellishments is somewhat pronounced, though
within the bounds of Bachian style.
But Mr. Lang can't resist tugging and pulling at phrases. The result
is that the Aria lacks flow and shape. Moment after moment, Mr. Lang
keeps you hanging, and hanging. This opening section has never
seemed so long.
What does it mean to play expressively? Compare classical music to
film. Film buffs recognize overacting in a flash, and won't put up
with it. Mr. Lang, I think, does the equivalent of overacting in
music; his expressivity tips over into exaggeration, even vulgarity.
He has won ardent fans for the sheer brilliance and energy of his
playing. But many also respond to moments of deep expression, when
he sure seems to be doing something to the music, almost always
reflected in his physical mannerisms.
In classical music, unlike in film, players are often performing
repertory works, like the "Goldberg" Variations, which are familiar
to their audiences. Listeners are judging a performance based on its
differences from others they've heard, not merely in a vacuum. The
key, I'd say, is the proper mixture of bold personality --
difference from the norm -- and subtlety, taste.
Taste is, of course, a subjective thing. But there is reason to
question Mr. Lang's. Yes, a melody can be sung or played with
expressive touches by bending a phrase, prolonging a note, delaying
an entry.
But even music that seems lyrically flowing, with melodic lines that
spin and weave -- like the slow movement of Bach's "Italian"
Concerto, or any Chopin nocturne -- have an underlying structure,
much like the underlying metrical structure of a poem. Even prose
unfolds in clauses, sentences and paragraphs. The risk of stretching
music -- especially to the degree that a sense of pulse becomes weak
-- is that the shape of a phrase, a passage or an entire section
becomes entirely lost in a profusion of expressivity.
Mr. Lang plays the Romantic repertory with a great deal of freedom,
especially rhythmic freedom -- what's known as rubato. Bach's
"Goldberg" Variations certainly invite flexible approaches to rhythm
and pacing. But it's a question of degree, style, taste.
Variation 3, for example, is the first of the periodic contrapuntal
canons in the score, with one line followed a couple of beats later
by its echo. The two lines intertwine gracefully above a steady bass
pattern of eighth notes that soon becomes more animated. Mr. Lang
takes a slow tempo and keeps stretching the mingling lines as they
flow over the bass. But the playing is so yanked around rhythmically
that the music sounds labored. He makes things even fussier by a
constant use of crescendos that swell and subside, like a squeeze
box.
In his 2013 recording, Jeremy Denk approaches the "Goldbergs" intent
on bringing fresh spontaneity to the music. It's certainly a strong
interpretation. In Variation 3, which he plays just a little faster
than Mr. Lang, Mr. Denk is not shy, articulating the bass line with
detached staccato touch and giving lyrical independence to the two
upper lines. Yet the performance is lithe, undulant and cogently
phrased. It's lovely.
On the young pianist Beatrice Rana's splendid 2017 recording, she
takes a quicker tempo, yet plays with beguilingly subdued sound and
just a trace of impishness. Bach structures his variations in two
sections, each one repeated. In Ms. Rana's performance of Variation
3, each section seems like it's emitted in a single breath.
Mr. Lang fares better in the faster, more pulsing variations. But
even in these -- for example the 10th, a bracing four-voice fughetta
-- he can't help himself. On the surface this is bright, crystalline
playing. Yet Mr. Lang seems determined to project each voice with
emphatic clarity. The music winds up feeling confusingly
complicated. The way he punches out accents is almost pummeling. The
four voices come out clearly, but much more naturally, in Ms. Rana's
spirited yet restrained, nuanced performance.
The 26th Variation is a whirlwind of spiraling passagework that
tests a pianist's technique. Not surprisingly, Mr. Lang dispatches
it effortlessly at a breathless tempo. But so does Ms. Rana, who
plays with wondrous lightness and sparkle, yet uncanny poise, which
actually enhances the excitement: You listen in awe, wondering how
she can bring out both qualities at once.
The sublime 25th Variation, a slow, achingly lyrical rumination with
passages that explore bold realms of chromatic harmony, invites a
performer to play with brooding expressivity. But Mr. Lang's
performance is so contorted I find it almost unlistenable. Both Ms.
Rana and Mr. Denk play the music eloquently in seven minutes or
less. Mr. Lang's lugubrious account clocks in at over 10 minutes.
It's like he's attempting to show us how deeply he feels the music,
to prove that it's truly coming from his heart. But as a listener I
don't care about his feelings; I care about mine. He has to make
this music touch me, not himself.
Mr. Lang brought enormous dedication to his "Goldbergs" project. Yet
in an admiring 1940 review of the distinguished pianist Josef
Lhevinne, Virgil Thomson wrote that "any authoritative execution
derives as much of its excellence from what the artist does not do
as from what he does." Mr. Lang surely does too much.
- And what constitutes proper Baroque style is hotly debated, even among specialists.
https://scorsesewouldbeproud.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/if-jesus-came-back-and-saw-what-was-being-done-in-his-name-hed-never-stop-throwing-up/
Tender his resignation?
Switch to jazz or pop?
Give up music altogether?

dk
maxi...@gmail.com
2020-11-12 04:49:46 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by dk
Post by g***@gmail.com
Post by g***@gmail.com
Post by Frank Forman
Sounds like Sir Simon, who I find is also too fussy?
NYT: Lang Lang: The Pianist Who Plays Too Muchly
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/04/arts/music/lang-lang-bach-goldberg-variations.html
On a new recording of Bach's "Goldberg" Variations, the superstar
artist stretches the music beyond taste.
Lang Lang's seriousness of purpose permeates his recording of Bach's
"Goldberg" Variations. Still, indulgences appear from the first
measures.
Lang Lang's seriousness of purpose permeates his recording of Bach's
"Goldberg" Variations. Still, indulgences appear from the first
measures.Credit...Roman Pilipey/EPA, via Shutterstock
Anthony Tommasini
By Anthony Tommasini
Last year Lang Lang released "Piano Book," an album of pieces that
fostered his childhood passion for the piano: short Chopin works,
folk songs, "Chopsticks." A deluxe edition includes a reprint of the
score for Beethoven's "Für Elise," annotated with Mr. Lang's
handwritten suggestions for student pianists.
Above the opening measure, Mr. Lang writes, "Don't just play, feel
the notes softly come out from your fingers and heart." At the end,
he has a final reminder: "The main melody comes many times, must be
played with different shapes, colors, characters."
These two comments suggest why -- for all his playing's uncanny
virtuosity, wondrous control of shadings and sound and unbridled
urgency -- I and many others have long found Mr. Lang's performances
overindulgently expressive and marred by exaggerated interpretive
touches.
What does it mean to feel the notes come from your heart? How do you
do that? And if a melody in a short piece keeps returning, as in
"Für Elise," why must it be played differently each time? That
approach risks making the music seem mannered, even manipulated. The
comment suggests that it doesn't occur to Mr. Lang that maintaining
the essential contour, flow and character of a wistful melody like
this one might actually enhance the expressive impact of the music.
And for all the soft-spoken beauty of his performance, it comes
across as fussy and affected.
My frustrations with Mr. Lang also apply to his latest recording,
which includes two accounts of Bach's monumental "Goldberg"
Variations. One was made in a studio in Berlin; the other was
recorded live in St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany, where Bach
worked for the last 27 years of his life. I focused on the studio
version, which Mr. Lang said he prefers in a recent interview with
New York Times -- though he added that he likes the spontaneity of
the live performance.
Mr. Lang could play this formidable piece from memory as a teenager,
but waited until this spring, just before turning 38 -- and after
being sidelined for more than a year with a left-arm injury -- to
record it and take it on tour. He wound up playing only three of the
concerts before the coronavirus pandemic canceled the remainder.
For a pianist whose stardom was fueled by dazzling performances of
Romantic concertos, Mr. Lang's venture into Bach's touchstone score
was a risk. There is a large discography of exceptional recordings.
And what constitutes proper Baroque style is hotly debated, even
among specialists.
Mr. Lang's seriousness of purpose permeates his "Goldbergs." Still,
indulgences appear from the first measures of the tranquil opening
Aria, which provides the bass line (and harmonic patterns) from
which Bach generated 30 variations. Mr. Lang takes a restrained
tempo and plays with warm, subdued sound. His execution of clipped
rhythmic figures and embellishments is somewhat pronounced, though
within the bounds of Bachian style.
But Mr. Lang can't resist tugging and pulling at phrases. The result
is that the Aria lacks flow and shape. Moment after moment, Mr. Lang
keeps you hanging, and hanging. This opening section has never
seemed so long.
What does it mean to play expressively? Compare classical music to
film. Film buffs recognize overacting in a flash, and won't put up
with it. Mr. Lang, I think, does the equivalent of overacting in
music; his expressivity tips over into exaggeration, even vulgarity.
He has won ardent fans for the sheer brilliance and energy of his
playing. But many also respond to moments of deep expression, when
he sure seems to be doing something to the music, almost always
reflected in his physical mannerisms.
In classical music, unlike in film, players are often performing
repertory works, like the "Goldberg" Variations, which are familiar
to their audiences. Listeners are judging a performance based on its
differences from others they've heard, not merely in a vacuum. The
key, I'd say, is the proper mixture of bold personality --
difference from the norm -- and subtlety, taste.
Taste is, of course, a subjective thing. But there is reason to
question Mr. Lang's. Yes, a melody can be sung or played with
expressive touches by bending a phrase, prolonging a note, delaying
an entry.
But even music that seems lyrically flowing, with melodic lines that
spin and weave -- like the slow movement of Bach's "Italian"
Concerto, or any Chopin nocturne -- have an underlying structure,
much like the underlying metrical structure of a poem. Even prose
unfolds in clauses, sentences and paragraphs. The risk of stretching
music -- especially to the degree that a sense of pulse becomes weak
-- is that the shape of a phrase, a passage or an entire section
becomes entirely lost in a profusion of expressivity.
Mr. Lang plays the Romantic repertory with a great deal of freedom,
especially rhythmic freedom -- what's known as rubato. Bach's
"Goldberg" Variations certainly invite flexible approaches to rhythm
and pacing. But it's a question of degree, style, taste.
Variation 3, for example, is the first of the periodic contrapuntal
canons in the score, with one line followed a couple of beats later
by its echo. The two lines intertwine gracefully above a steady bass
pattern of eighth notes that soon becomes more animated. Mr. Lang
takes a slow tempo and keeps stretching the mingling lines as they
flow over the bass. But the playing is so yanked around rhythmically
that the music sounds labored. He makes things even fussier by a
constant use of crescendos that swell and subside, like a squeeze
box.
In his 2013 recording, Jeremy Denk approaches the "Goldbergs" intent
on bringing fresh spontaneity to the music. It's certainly a strong
interpretation. In Variation 3, which he plays just a little faster
than Mr. Lang, Mr. Denk is not shy, articulating the bass line with
detached staccato touch and giving lyrical independence to the two
upper lines. Yet the performance is lithe, undulant and cogently
phrased. It's lovely.
On the young pianist Beatrice Rana's splendid 2017 recording, she
takes a quicker tempo, yet plays with beguilingly subdued sound and
just a trace of impishness. Bach structures his variations in two
sections, each one repeated. In Ms. Rana's performance of Variation
3, each section seems like it's emitted in a single breath.
Mr. Lang fares better in the faster, more pulsing variations. But
even in these -- for example the 10th, a bracing four-voice fughetta
-- he can't help himself. On the surface this is bright, crystalline
playing. Yet Mr. Lang seems determined to project each voice with
emphatic clarity. The music winds up feeling confusingly
complicated. The way he punches out accents is almost pummeling. The
four voices come out clearly, but much more naturally, in Ms. Rana's
spirited yet restrained, nuanced performance.
The 26th Variation is a whirlwind of spiraling passagework that
tests a pianist's technique. Not surprisingly, Mr. Lang dispatches
it effortlessly at a breathless tempo. But so does Ms. Rana, who
plays with wondrous lightness and sparkle, yet uncanny poise, which
actually enhances the excitement: You listen in awe, wondering how
she can bring out both qualities at once.
The sublime 25th Variation, a slow, achingly lyrical rumination with
passages that explore bold realms of chromatic harmony, invites a
performer to play with brooding expressivity. But Mr. Lang's
performance is so contorted I find it almost unlistenable. Both Ms.
Rana and Mr. Denk play the music eloquently in seven minutes or
less. Mr. Lang's lugubrious account clocks in at over 10 minutes.
It's like he's attempting to show us how deeply he feels the music,
to prove that it's truly coming from his heart. But as a listener I
don't care about his feelings; I care about mine. He has to make
this music touch me, not himself.
Mr. Lang brought enormous dedication to his "Goldbergs" project. Yet
in an admiring 1940 review of the distinguished pianist Josef
Lhevinne, Virgil Thomson wrote that "any authoritative execution
derives as much of its excellence from what the artist does not do
as from what he does." Mr. Lang surely does too much.
- And what constitutes proper Baroque style is hotly debated, even among specialists.
https://scorsesewouldbeproud.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/if-jesus-came-back-and-saw-what-was-being-done-in-his-name-hed-never-stop-throwing-up/
Tender his resignation?
Switch to jazz or pop?
Give up music altogether?
dk
I just finished Lang Lang's much maligned Goldbergs.

I love the way he shapes sound. He conjures effects that are almost visual. It's unwarranted to accuse him of pretentiousness.

My only caveat is that his ornamentation is unidiomatic -- a typical problem for pianists -- but except for the aria, I don't mind it.

If you're of a critical bent and listen for flaws, this recording isn't for you, but if you're bored of straightforward Goldbergs and listen for virtues and originality, it's a keeper.

Max

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