After several albums of Western classical music, Chinese pianist Lang Lang returns to the music of his native country on Dragon Songs. The main piece is "Yellow River Piano Concerto," a four-part work running nearly 21 minutes on which he is accompanied by the China Philharmonic Orchestra. It is based on "Great Song of the Yellow River," a choral cantata composed by Xian Xinghai during the Japanese occupation of China in 1939, and is a stirring, patriotic piece. The rest of the music is more sedate, with Lang adapting various folk tunes and short pieces written for Chinese instruments to the piano. He also introduces some Chinese instruments into the pieces, duetting with Fan Wei on pipa (a guitar- or lute-like instrument) on "Spring Flowers in the Moonlit Night on the River," Zang Jiali on the guanzi (a sort of Chinese piccolo) on "Dance from Quici," and Ji Wei on guzheng (reminiscent of a string dulcimer) on "At Night on the Lake Beneath the Maple Bridge." The 63-minute CD is accompanied by a lengthy DVD that includes a 45-minute documentary of Lang's return visit to China for master classes, concerts, and even a little time with his family at "home" (an apartment he says he has slept in twice). There are also video performances of the all of the album's tracks, each one prefaced by introductory remarks by the pianist. Just as "Yellow River Piano Concerto" began the CD, it ends the DVD in a mammoth performance in Guangzhou with four orchestras combined and 100 female piano players, all spread out in a space that looks larger than a football field.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|Yellow River Concerto for piano & orchestra|
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