TCHAIKOVSKY, MENDELSSOHN: FIRST PIANO CONCERTOS

Lang Lang

****

It's become a bit of a game amongst classical reviewers to cynically count the number of artist photos and their costume changes in the CD slips of hot new artists. Lang Lang, the 21-year-old Chinese star, has taken all this to another level, not only posing in several costumes but also posing on a number of different items of classic 20th century chair design. Music meets fashion, now meets design. Fortunately his playing is much more than a surface effect. His finely crafted and powerful version of Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto will offer something new even to those who think they know it well. His version of the very different Mendelssohn first concerto, which has been a signature concert piece for the young performer, is played with great affection and strength. What can too easily seem like a well-crafted show piece is here given a very exciting and engaging reading. Daniel Barenboim and Chicago Symphony are of course admirable partners.

Marcus O'Donnell originally published in the Sydney Star Observer