Lang Lang's two-part programme of Mozart and Chopin pieces contained some instances of jaw-dropping virtuosity
The Guardian, Monday 18th November 2013
Lang Lang's Albert Hall programme came in two neat sections, with three Mozart sonatas (G major, K283; E flat major, K282, and A minor K310) in the first half, and Chopin's Four Ballades in the second. His dexterity saw him sail nonchalantly through Mozart's bravura passages, in which there is no hiding from even the most minor mishaps; but he also showed exhilarating flair and brilliance, every gesture set clearly into the broader flow of each movement.
The andantes and adagios were particularly fine. Their melodic lines were gracefully yet firmly profiled, with secondary voices allotted their due place. Above all, there was a measured yet flexible approach to tempo that gave individual ideas space to breathe, and placed them within their wider contexts with seemingly effortless deliberation.
If the Chopin Ballades were not perfect, it was not because the pianist was fazed by their technical difficulties – his virtuosity in some of Chopin's more terrifying flights of fingerwork fantasy was jaw-dropping – nor because the much grander scale of the writing defeated him, exhausting though performing these four works in sequence must be. But it's much harder to maintain a sense of a narrative in these disparate and mysterious epics, and while the second and third held together securely, there were hasty moments in the first and fourth; even so, the sweep and conviction of these performances were never in doubt.
Lang Lang relaxed fully into a generous set of encores, connecting easily with his public as he delighted them with, among other things, a vivid version of Mozart's Rondo alla Turca and a barnstorming account of Scriabin's D sharp minor Etude Op 8 No 12.