Chopin News, Previews, Rants, and Reviews:

Live: Lang Lang

Yesterday we brought you two views of Yundi Li; today it’s the “other” superstar Chinese pianist’s turn. Mark Swed of the LA Times is both impressed and appalled:

Tuesday night, he [Lang Lang] returned to Walt Disney Concert Hall for a recital. The place was, inevitably, packed. The audience was antsy, wanting fireworks, and Lang Lang eventually delivered. First, though, he had to prove he was a poet.

“He is a poet. But he is an immature poet with a nuclear arsenal, and that makes him a very dangerous poet. The nuclear part of the weaponry is a killer technique. The threat is in the delivery system. He has the charisma to hold an audience in his power. Responsibility, though, is another matter….

“Lang Lang has inherited Liberace’s curse. Once the audience knows what he can do, he must give it what it wants. And each time, he must outdo himself. In the single encore, Chopin’s Etude, Opus 10, No. 3, he outdid himself….

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Flashy pianist Lang startlingly graceful in Houston show

The headlines says it all…Houston Chronicle reviewer Everett Evans on the hand is pleasantly surprised…

“Lang Lang is renowned for flash as well as artistry — and he didn’t disappoint fans on either count in his performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 Thursday night with the Houston Symphony. Yet the predominant quality that distinguished his performance was grace.

“The famous mannerisms, swaying moves and transported expressions — symbols of the artist not only performing but feeling the music — were present, but less frequent and more subdued than in some of his past performances. But then Chopin is not Beethoven nor Rachmaninoff and this work calls for a more quicksilver approach, more moments of delicacy and fewer of bravado.”

Houston Chronicle – United States
By EVERETT EVANS Lang Lang is renowned for flash as well as artistry — and he didn’t disappoint fans on either count in his performance of Chopin’s Piano
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Renowned pianist next door

A preview of a Baltimore-area recital by Korean-turned-Columbia, MD resident Eun Joo Chung, which includes with a bravura piece of Chopiniana:

Chopin paired the serenely rippling Andante spianato with its extroverted and rousing opposite, the Grande Polonaise Brillante in E flat major, which was originally written for piano and orchestra..

While Sunday’s program certainly requires virtuosity, Chung hopes that the audience will take away something more. “If the performer is able to invite me into the music, I feel that it is a very intimate conversation taking place as opposed to a show or a display,” she says.

Baltimore Sun – United States
With the exception of the Chopin, the music on the program is based on variation; a short musical phrase is repeated and developed, becoming more intricate
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Chopin: Preludes; etc, Alexandre Tharaud

A more tepid review of the new Harmonia Mundi CD from the UK Guardian. Critic Andrew Clements likes the Chopin all right, but is less taken by the pairings…

He follows the Op 28 set of the 24 Preludes with a curious little sequence that interleaves more of Chopin’s miniatures, including the three posthumous studies and the much more substantial C sharp minor Prelude Op 45, with three pieces by Frederic Mompou. Tharaud describes the Mompou as “a more recent, more intimate echo of the Chopin” and plays it with the same care and sensitivity he lavishes on the more famous works, without ever disguising the fact that it has very little real musical substance.

Guardian – UK
Though his repertory ranges from Couperin right up to Kagel, Chopin seems to be a speciality of Tharaud’s. This disc of the Preludes follows an earlier one
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CHOPIN: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 11; Piano Concerto No 2…

Nice review of Music & Arts reissue of pianist Paul Badura-Skoda‘s recording of the two piano concertos with Artur Rodzinski and the Vienna State Opera Orchestra:

“Badura-Skoda passes off Chopin’s roulades and tricky accents in the manner of an intimate series of etudes, here much closer to the Chopin who dazzled George Sand. Rarely does Badura-Skoda take a repeat in the same manner, always shading the rhythm or the harmony with subtle touches of diaphanous color. Formidable!”

Audiophile Audition – USA

The Viennese tradition in Badura-Skoda pays elegant stylistic homage to Chopin, though we could argue that the performances are more of Hummel than the
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Popcorn Panel: The Other Boleyn Girl

A trio of Canadian film critics nominate historical films they like a lot better than the current Portman/ScarJo bodice-ripper…”Impromptu” gets the nod from one…. “an emo late-80s movie about the love affair between Chopin and George Sand. Hugh Grant is appropriately floppy-haired as Chopin, and Judy David is an extremely overwrought George Sand. And Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin are in it for no apparent reason.”

National Post – Toronto,Ontario,Canada

Almost as much as I loved Impromptu, an emo late-80s movie about the love affair between Chopin and George Sand. Hugh Grant is appropriately floppy-haired
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