Lang Lang in Paris
Composer: Chopin, Tchaikovsky
Number of Discs: 2 ( + 1 DVD )
Label: Sony Classical
✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶
Lang Lang’s latest venture into the studio features a coupling of Chopin and Tchaikovsky not yet attempted in the classical recording genre. The four Scherzi of Chopin and The Seasons of Tchaikovsky yield some outstanding results. Lang Lang, love him or hate him, continues to leave an indelible mark on the classical music scene. I have found his efforts on this album to be by far and away his most mature and sensitive readings of romantic solo piano works to date. The first scherzo is attacked with brashness, power and vitality and gets the heart rate moving. No 2 in B Flat Minor, Op 31 has suffered somewhat over time from being overplayed. Lang Lang’s reading of this has had me listening to it over and over again. It is the most exciting, novel and innovative account I’ve heard of it in quite some time. The ternary form of the work along with its various repeats can lead to blandness but he treats each repeat and each section as an entity within itself. It works wonderfully well. Scherzo No 3 is delivered with dynamic invention, particularly the cascading 4th intervals which are frightfully difficult to play but under Lang Lang’s fingers, are projected in a smooth cohesive manner. Finally the 4th Scherzo rounds out the Chopin component of the disc and here, Lang Lang takes us on a fantastic voyage through the creative mire that is the genius of Chopin. There is virtuosity, there is sensitivity, there is boldness. There is also an inner beauty in this work that is only brought out by the very best pianists. The Seasons complement the Scherzi well and as we move through the 12 minatures representing the 12 months of the year we discover that Lang Lang’s connection with the romantic idiom is both rich and wholesome. There are CD and digital download options which include videos of several of the works played. This is one for the Christmas hamper.
– Frank Shostakovich
The Opera Collection Volume 1
ABC Classics 481 2091
✶ ✶ ✶ ✶
The collection spanning the years 1978 to 1991 is a celebration of Bonynge’s 85th birthday which in addition to 40 years of recordings includes previously unreleased performances by Joan Sutherland. It’s all a veritable treasure chest of four CDs with Bonynge at the helm and amongst the collection there are gems for all music lovers. Bonynge is joined by the great and the good of Australian musicians – amongst them singers who have become legends in their lifetimes: Sutherland, Pringle, Buchanan, Riedel, Kenny, Janes, Fowels, Begg, Austin and Longmuir along with the Adelaide, Queensland and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras, Sydney Lyric Orchestra and The Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra. Bonynge is of course renowned as one of the finest opera conductors of his generation and his musicianship has been acclaimed throughout the globe – but it is at home in Australia that many of his closest musical collaborations have developed. Included in the music of CD1 are Mozart arias – all the favourites from the Marriage of Figaro, Cosi Fan Tutte, Don Giovanni and the Magic Flute. The French and Italian contributions in CD2 are taken from Adam, Donizetti, Delibes and Bellini whilst CD3 shows the lighter musical qualities of Viennese Operetta with Strauss II, Lehar and some surprising welcome works from Kreisler and Novello. The second CD of Volume II is devoted to a complete and impressive performance of Handel’s Rodelinda. In some ways the collection should be considered a stunning musical journey of one of Australia’s great sons. Acquire it and be stimulated.
– Emyr Evans
Nessun Dorma – The Puccini Album
Orchestra e Coro dell’Accademia
Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. Antonio
✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶
Kaufmann is now regarded as the world’s most successful tenor. He is internationally acclaimed for his roles in Italian, German and French repertoire and he appears at all the leading international opera houses. Kaufmann, at the age of only 44, has already established his supremacy in an extensive repertoire, particularly in the operas of Richard Wagner. Among his most recent performances was bringing down the house as well as the underwear at the famous Last Night of the Proms in the Albert Hall in London. He made Proms history by becoming the first German to sing the British patriotic anthem Rule Britannia at the BBC Proms. In return for offering a packed Albert Hall arias by Puccini and Lehar, a couple of overexcited Prommers responded by throwing their knickers at the superstar tenor who gave a spirited twirl before carrying them off presumably to his dressing room. Amongst the arias are all the better known contributions from Manon Lescaut, La Boheme, Tosca, Butterfly and Turandot. And as an additional incentive to buy there’s a DVD – The making of Nessun Dorma with three excerpts from La Fanciulla del West.
This article was from Fine Music Magazine December edition. To read the complete magazine click here
To receive the magazine delivered to your postal address each month for a year, become a Subscribing Friend to Fine Music 102.5 for less than $2 a week. More information click here.