Lang Lang

The Chopin Album

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The Chopin Album is Lang Lang's first recording for Sony devoted entirely to the solo piano music of the Romantic master, focused on the Études, Op. 25, with three of the most popular Nocturnes and a handful of other pieces included for good measure. While Lang Lang's phenomenal popularity guarantees this CD's success, and his ability to play the technically demanding Études will impress his fans, devotees of Chopin's music may be skeptical of the pianist's interpretations, which at their best are flashy and extroverted. While it's not necessary to play Chopin close to the vest, with the expressive reticence of a wallflower, Lang Lang is no introvert, and it shows in the pieces where sensitivity and poetic refinement are desirable. He plays with his customary bravado in the loudest Études, the Grande Valse Brillante, the Grande Polonaise, and even in the inaccurately nicknamed "Minute" Waltz, but his expression at softer levels seems affectless, uninvolved, and rather uninteresting. While connoisseurs may balk at this fairly showy album, it is sure to appeal to a wide audience, perhaps most especially because of the inclusion of Lang Lang's duet with Danish singer Oh Land, "Tristesse," which is based on Chopin's Étude in E major, Op. 10/3, and taken from the soundtrack for the film The Flying Machine. Sony's sound is generally good, though Lang Lang's dynamic range is wide enough to make setting the volume a little tricky.

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