Lang Lang

Gran Turismo 5: The Official Soundtrack

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There's nothing at all wrong with the concept of having classical musicians try to engage video game audiences, for whom the meeting point of music and visual elements takes on particular importance. And as usual, fearless young Chinese pianist Lang Lang delivers attention-getting readings of Romantic masterpieces with a big sweep that may not please every time, but is certainly never dull. Lang Lang even has his name attached to a quote on the back cover of the CD, claiming he has been a fan of the racing game Gran Turismo for some years, and given his personality you're ready to take his enthusiasm as genuine. So what's the problem? Whoever it was who picked out the music for this "official soundtrack," which was recorded fresh rather than being compiled from earlier Lang Lang releases, apparently didn't gave much thought to the program. The sole direct connection to the Gran Turismo game is the Precipitato movement from Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No. 7, which is used in its opening material. That's about what you'd expect to hear in a video game soundtrack, but you have to wait almost until the end to get to it. Most of the music up to that point is dreamy, relaxed, and lacking in a definite pulse. Certainly there was room for slower material, since any game is structured around less intense intervals, but as you hear piece after piece of dreamy Romantic music you begin to wonder what these people had in mind, and so will those attracted to the album by the Gran Turismo game. An interesting experiment, but a missed opportunity.

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