For this all-Mozart twofer from Sony, piano virtuoso Lang Lang, conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt, and the Vienna Philharmonic present a program of piano concertos, piano sonatas, and several short solo pieces that give a good sampling of the composer's keyboard output. The roster may provoke some cognitive dissonance, though, because Harnoncourt is best known for historically informed period interpretations of Mozart, while Lang Lang and the Vienna Philharmonic are more associated with a conventional, mainstream performance style. One might expect some compromise between the two camps, yet while the orchestra incorporates some aspects of Classical sound into its playing, it remains a modern orchestra of full size, and Harnoncourt doesn't ask for the tone colors and techniques he would demand of his own Concentus Musicus Wien. For the soloist's part, Lang Lang is rather restrained and sensitive to the character of the music, and apart from some showiness in his cadenzas, he shows less of the ebullience and bravura playing he otherwise shows in Liszt or Rachmaninov.
Recorded during live concert performances, Lang Lang's second Telarc release justifies all the positive buzz surrounding this young pianist's rapidly ascending international career. He brings plenty of finger power and long-lined drama to Rachmaninov's ubiquitous Third Concerto, yet takes plenty of time to let the lyrical, soaring tunes spin without an inkling of self-indulgence. He admirably adjusts the piano part to accompany when he doesn't bear the melodic burden, and he gets more expressive mileage from transitions than many pianists do. For once, the thicker, more difficult first movement cadenza doesn't sound unwieldy and elephantine. The piano is a little too prominent in the mix next to Temirkanov's sensitively detailed, flowing orchestral support. While Lang Lang has not fully internalized the quivering underbelly of Scriabin's passionate keyboard writing, his poised and secure readings of 10 Etudes still boast plenty of dynamism, idiomatic nuance, and roaring, Horowitz-like octaves. Watch this pianist!
Lang Lang revisits giants of Russia's Romantic musical soul, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov, to reveal another side of his prodigious talent–his finesse as a collegial interpreter of chamber music. This release, Lang Lang`s first ever chamber music recording, also features two giants of their instruments: Vadim Repin on violin and Mischa Maisky on cello. Lang Lang could not be in better company to reveal the inexhaustible inventiveness of Tchaikovsky's Piano Trio in A minor, op. 50 or the tender consolations of Rachmaninov's Trio élégiaque no. 1 in G-minor, a short early masterpiece composed before Rachmaninov was twenty.