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The exuberant Lang Lang at the Royal Festival Hall, London

Lang Lang (郎朗) opened his concert at the Royal Festival Hall with Mozart's piano sonata K 333. He played it with much fluidity, though I was not sure whether it was Lang Lang or Mozart that I was listening to. His playing of Schumann's Fantasie in C was captivating - with longing pensive moments (at least for a 25 year old).

The second half of the concert began with him describing the few Chinese works that we was going to play. It was nice to see such a young performer at ease on stage not performing but talking to the audience. These pieces were playful yet evocative of Chinese (taking a broader sense as he made a point to describe the west Chinese origin of one of the pieces) poetic and instrumental colours. These were followed by a stylistic playing of a Granados. We were then thrown into the complex Wagnerian world with Liszt's transcription of Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde - Lang Lang was able to sustain a rich and complex orchestral sound taking us through to the climaxes of the piece. The last piece was one of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies (No 6) - with pianistic pyrotechnic at the end. The two encores (a Chopin Nocturne and Flight of the Bubble Bee) certainly satisfied the loyal fans (of where there were plenty) and the intrigued.

His superb techniques will enable him to explore a wide and rich repertoire - what will he tackle next - Ravel? Debussy? Rachmanioff? It would be interesting to hear.


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