Lang Lang Piano Book

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Deutsche Grammophon 4797441(72.32)

Lang Lang is a phenomenal pianist who often plays in a flamboyantly confident style, making some critics a bit sniffy about him. He has been out of action with tendinitis in his left arm since March 2017, but is back now with this attractive album of pieces which inspired him to be a musician in the first place.

Topped and tailed by Bach–Prelude in C major and Minuet in G major – among the 32 tracks are popular items such as Beethoven’s “Fur Elise”, Mendelssohn’s “Spinning Song”, Debussy’s Clair de Lune, Chopin’s “Raindrop” Pr─Ślude, Czerny’s The School of Velocity: Presto (piano beginners: remember this one?), Schubert’s Moment musical in F minor, Grieg’s To Spring, and Mozart’s 12 Piano Variations on “Ah, vous dirai-je Maman” (“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”).

There is a quartet of more modern works to discover – Sakamoto’s evocative Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence being one – and everything is beautifully performed.

Lang Lang, born in China in 1982, began piano lessons at age three and two years later won first prize in a piano competition and performed in public for the first time. One of the pieces he played then, Mozart’s “Sonata Facile” (or“Easy Sonata”): Allegro, is also included here.

Today he is one of the best-known pianists in the world and reportedly 40 million children in China have taken up the piano in what has become known as the ‘Lang Lang effect.’

Of his International Music Foundation, launched in 2014, he has said: “Music makes life better. It heals, unites, inspires, and it makes us a better people. Music is powerful. I want every child to have access to music experiences that ignite something wonderful inside of them, just as music delivered something incredible to me.”

In October 2013 Lang Lang was awarded the role of a United Nations Messenger of Peace – something he says is more important than his music.

I have enjoyed this release a lot and it marks a very welcome return for not only a master of his instrument but a good guy, too.

© 2019 Peter Burt

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