Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15: 1. Allegro con brio
Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15: 2. Largo
Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15: 3. Rondo. Allegro
Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58: 1. Allegro moderato
Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58: 2. Andante con moto
Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58: 3. Rondo. Vivace
Lang Lang delivers his first-ever Beethoven recording, a stunning reading of the extensive Concerto no. 4 and the jubilant Concerto no. 1. Even though he has performed this repertoire extensively in concert, Lang Lang w... more »aited for the perfect moment and the perfect team to record his first pair of concertos from these milestones of piano repertoire When Lang Lang embarked on his international career, Christoph Eschenbach became one of his first and most enthusiastic proponents - and a mentor and close friend ever since, Eschenbach was the ideal collaborator for Lang Lang's first Beethoven recording. Nimbly supported by Eschenbach's superb Orchestre de Paris, with its tradition of having been the first orchestra ever in France to perform music by Beethoven, Lang Lang's performance gives further proof as to why he is one of today's most acclaimed pianists« less
Lang Lang delivers his first-ever Beethoven recording, a stunning reading of the extensive Concerto no. 4 and the jubilant Concerto no. 1. Even though he has performed this repertoire extensively in concert, Lang Lang waited for the perfect moment and the perfect team to record his first pair of concertos from these milestones of piano repertoire When Lang Lang embarked on his international career, Christoph Eschenbach became one of his first and most enthusiastic proponents - and a mentor and close friend ever since, Eschenbach was the ideal collaborator for Lang Lang's first Beethoven recording. Nimbly supported by Eschenbach's superb Orchestre de Paris, with its tradition of having been the first orchestra ever in France to perform music by Beethoven, Lang Lang's performance gives further proof as to why he is one of today's most acclaimed pianists
Very musical Beethoven from a pianist fast maturing
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 05/08/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Lang Lang has nothing to prove to the public, who have embraced him worldwide as a megastar. But critics are another matter. His meteoric rise came too fast for them, and they doubt his maturity, taste, even his sincerity. I for one am a fan, despite hearing one disappointing live recital in Boston, so I was eager to hear great things in this pairing of Beethoven's Piano Concertos #1 and #4.
To begin with, we get excellent sound from DG for both piano and orchestra, and Eschenbach leads the Orchestre de Paris in clean striaghtforward accompaniments. From the first entry of the piano, however, the spotlight is on Lang Lang. He shows a happy affinity for the First Concerto, keeping the rhythms light and springy; he punctuates a bit sharply at times but overall conveys buoyant cheer. The long, lovely melodic line in the Largo sounds as edelicate and refined as Mozart in Lang Lang's hands. The finale could show more brio but is fine. Is this a reading for the ages? No. One can think of several others, from Fleisher, ARgerich, Michelangeli, and Richter in particular, that scale the heights, while Lang Lang remains in the middle distance.
His real challenge comes in the great Fourth Concerto, a much deeper work and one suited to Lang Lang's sensitive touch. Despite his reputation for keyboard wizardry, this pianist tends toward poise and luricism. Here he gets a chance to shine, which he does--within limits. The recorded history of the Fourth contains great readings from Gieseking, Edwin Fischer, Rudolf Serkin, Fleisher, and Kempff, just to mention a few favorites. Lang Lang plays very well, and he is never less than fine, but I don't hear enough individual personality. Marvelous as his technique and phrasing can be, he needs a decade more maturity.
Overall, the musicality of these performances should quiet the critics if they are willing to listen honestly and not through preconceived notions. The fingerwork in the first movement dazzles, the hushed bridge between the slow movement and the finale brings a shiver, and the finale itself, if not up to Serkin's blazing standard, shows many nice touches. (I only wish Lang Lang had let himself go; the rhythms are a little cautious and foursquare.) Four stars are well deserved."
A Limited Interpretation of Beethoven
S. R. Bookstaber | Provo, UT | 11/11/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I've always felt that Lang Lang should restrict himself to Mozart and early Beethoven, and this recording of the Beethoven concertos convinces me further of this. His recording of the first concerto is fine; he gives a real sense of the classical period through a bold approach. However, when this same approach is applied to the fourth concerto, it comes across as raw and bland. Lang Lang has no depth of mood; he shifts between the only three colors he knows without bothering to connect passages together. This approach simply does not pass when performing a piece where the first movement alone is twenty minutes long. With such a piece, it is crucial to keep the "big picture" intact. Lang Lang knows how to make the piano sound strong, sensitive, or excited, but doesn't know anything between. This is not often a limitation with Mozart's piano works, which have the same sudden, constant mood-swings that characterize Mozart's personality, hence why I say Lang Lang should stick to the classical period. What depth Lang Lang lacks aurally he tries to make up for with grandiose swaying and gestures in front of audiences, but with a recording there is nothing to cover up his disconnected, shallow sound. As a previous reviewer noted, the orchestra is quite subpar, though it doesn't detract too often from the piano, which is quite clear. Lang Lang shows off his technique through excellent articulation and velocity when necessary. However, his musicality is substantively lacking, and the essence of the music is left behind. "
Only an opinion, but a dissenting one
Rex B. Faubion | Mountain View, CA United States | 08/14/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Here, I diverge from most of the reviewers. Lang Lang's performance strikes me as marvelously balanced and effective. The Concerto No. 1 is performed here with youthful elan and high spirits in the outer movements: clean articulation and a nice bounce. The first movement cadenza is unfamiliar to me. It is not the rather perfunctory cadenza Beethoven wrote out for his pupil Archduke Rudolf (which I'm not sure Beethoven used when he himself performed the concerto; he probably improvised on the spot). The one in this recording is long. I don't know the cadenza literature; perhaps it's by Lang Lang or Eschenbach. Definitely a novelty for me; not bad. The slow movement has sentiment, yet it is cool in demeanor; we are still in a Mozartean world. The Fourth Concerto is played here with brilliance and virtuosity; Beethoven is assured and assertive and this concerto was meant as a showcase piece. Lang Lang articulates the runs and other passage work cleanly and precisely. The slow movement is ravishing in his performance: such delicacy and restraint!
The "but" part of this review rests with the "supporting cast." Let's face it, the Orchestre de Paris is not a first tier outfit. The woodwinds are particularly weak, the first clarinet is rather insensitive in phrasing and not attractive in tone. And Eschenbach is not the man to whip this ensemble into shape (perhaps a few kicked over music stands and score-throwing tantrums a la Toscanini would have helped). The ensemble work of the strings borders on the sloppy; the tuttis are leaden. I understand Eschenbach is a lovely person; Lang Lang seems devoted to him, as is Renee Fleming (the orchestral work on her Strauss disc with Eschenbach is terrible!) I just feel he is not a top-tier conductor. If the recording location had been a bit livelier, there might have been more allure to the sound, but the "room" is dead, dead, dead. Every careless entry is heard all too clearly. It's almost as bad as the dreaded Studio 8-H that Toscanini had to record in with the RCA Symphony. Lang Lang has not had good luck with his orchestral accompanists. His Tchaikovsky First with Barenboim and the Chicago was wonderful. But the Rachmaninov with Gergiev. . . not first rate. (Gergiev can be superb, but I think he cannot say "no" when asked to perform. I think if the East Transylvanian Fireman's Association Symphony Orchestra asked him to record some symphonies of Glazanov, he'd try to fit it into his crowded schedule.) G. is on auto-pilot there. Lang Lang's managers should choose his recording colleagues with great care.
So, to sort through all the above: Lang Lang 5 stars; the rest 1 star = 3 stars."
Counting Stars with Lang Lang.
A. F. S. Mui | HK | 07/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The sheer fact that some of those signing in here could decide to down rate this disc by such level reveals how nonsensical the so-called classical music market has become. I don't care how Lang Lang `behaves' at the pianoforte. These are quite irrelevant to his music, as any seasoned listener would tell. Lang Lang and Eschenbach both embark on what could be called a novel to almost revolutionary course in this recording. Instead of resorting to `copy and paste' of some Gilels, some Kempff, some Pletnev and many others, Lang/Eschenbach work on originality. The result yields plenty of fireworks and impassioned music, showering listeners with unexpected joy note after note. Lang Lang has managed to present `his' version of Beethoven's two challenging concertos for the pianoforte (compare the LP version of the same two pieces by Eschenbach/Karajan decades ago) in his lusciously youthful style, yet leaving much more in his listeners (not for those who adamantly refuse to `listen', though) to long for his future re-releases of these same pieces, where definitely more new things could and would be said then. As for the collaboration, however revolutionary in interpretation, however unconventional in expression, both Lang and Eschenbach are never in doubt as to where and when to hold on to the reigns, and when and where to let go, even though at times at the least expected places. The teamwork is almost perfect. The cadenza of the first movement of No. 4 is shatteringly novel, while the third movement is one whole piece of explosive firework blowing the listeners away. The No.4 alone justifies the cost for this disc. I absolutely look forward to the Lang/Eschenbach collaboration of Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, and more others. "
The image is bigger than the music.
Carol Greenley | San Francisco, CA | 02/22/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Yes, I feel that the Lang Lang image has overtaken the musicality. But I must give the young man some credit here; he has taken on a couple of very complex cadenzas, and he does play the pieces quite well. Beethoven certainly does run the gamut of emotions, and the joy is definitely missing in these performances. Lang Lang turns the listener's attention to himself with exaggerated rubatos and dynamics, but the technique is clean and smooth. When I started my classical music label, I learned to listen to recordings on many levels and I must give credit to his recording team at Emil Berliner Studios. The production is flawless; the balance between orchestra and piano is perfect, the image is exactly as you would hear in the concert hall. Most people don't need the narcissistic 16-page booklet, so downloading is recommended."