Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lang Lang at the RFH

Surfer had a wide-eyed look when we met up last night. "The biggest waves in half a century are going to hit the west coast this weekend...go check Magic Seaweed." I did, and the predicted fifty-year storm has already been downgraded somewhat, with 20ft not 50ft waves forecast for Whitsand Bay on Saturday.

Lang Lang's performance at RFH last night was a bit like one of those beachside days where a gentle morning swell has, by mid afternoon, become a relentless train of crashing rollers.

Before the interval he played Mozart's Piano Sonata in B flat (K333), Schumann's Fantasie in C and the Granados Goyescas with a poise that was seasoned with occasional moments of sparkle (matching his sequin-speckled shirt).

The second half began well enough with Lang Lang at the mike waggishly introducing five pieces of traditional Chinese folk music − The Dragon Songs. Surfer really enjoyed these and we discussed the musical similarities with Grieg's Lyric Pieces which derive in part I think from ancient Lap songs.

Then the pianistic triple salkos really got going. In Lang Lang's hands the arrangement of Isolde's Liebestod was all too Liberacestod and the Hungarian Rhapsody was marred by a whole load of OTT performance gestures.

Years ago V and I went to see Sviatoslav Richter in the old, unpolished version of the RFH. The auditorium was in complete darkness save for the little lamp that illuminated the sheet music which Richter squinted at as he played, as if discovering the notes for the first time. Now there was a showman.

Still, it was a pleasure to meet Surfer's charming friend Zhaoan ("Joanne with a Z") and her mates Richard and Charlie.

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