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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 7 April 2012
Lang Lang arrived on the Classical music scene with a bang, sending audiences into raves with his flair and concert mannerisms. He's very popular, but the critics haven't been as enthusiastic. Yet the facts speak for themselves; he's been engaged by the American "Big Five", Berlin, and Vienna. You surely can't fool professional musicians all the time, so isn't there some substance to his playing?

The Tchaikovsky 1st isn't underplayed, so it's imperative the Lang Lang says something new of his own. Thankfully, he has strong orchestral support with Barenboim and Chicago, so everything looks promising. Lang Lang has a strong technique and he seems like a show-off on stage, but what is instantly striking about his interpretation is how sensitive he is. This is first apparent when he enters with those glorious, whamming D-flat chords. He plays them almost gently, not with reckless abandon. It works, but why couldn't he take advantage of the heroic potential? Moving through the rest of the work, it seems that Lang Lang is going for a reflective approach. Barenboim shares his vision, and while Chicago sounds mighty, the music lacks drive. Lang Lang wallows in the beauty of the piece, often trying to dazzle listeners through surprises in phrasing and dynamics. For example, in the finale, he gives strong accents to some of the chords in the opening theme while fluctuating freely. It's a relief to find a pianist who actually tries to say something, but the whole effort sounds fussed over.

The Mendelssohn 1st isn't as familiar as the Tchaikovsky but it's popular nonetheless. Once again, both Lang Lang and Barenboim go for a meditative approach. Our Chinese superstar wants us to know that he's able to produce beautiful lyricism. He certainly can, but it doesn't sound genuine. The music doesn't have momentum and sometimes it nearly drags. This is the kind of interpretation that offers wonderful details and glorious playing, but its overall effect is vague. I would love to hear more of Mendelssohn's youthfulness, more sunniness. And while Lang Lang's playing is beautiful, it doesn't sound natural. But all the same, it's clear that Lang Lang does have personality. The music never lapses into blandness.

It's apparent that Lang Lang has talent. He tries to showcase sensitivity in this disc and succeeds, but it ends up sounding forced. I enjoyed every moment I spent listening to this disc, but Lang Lang has room to grow.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 3 January 2016
Listening to this recording of the Tchaikovsky side by side with Behzod Abduraimov's reading from 2014, I am struck by the differences in the orchestras more than the pianists, really - certainly in terms of mastery there is nothing to choose between them. Lang Lang has a fantastic fluency and lightning reflexes. always, and his reading of the work is more subdued than one might expect. He sounds graceful and perhaps even a little awed by the Chicago orchestra and Barenboim, who give a superbly upholstered sense of line. It is a bit like a Pontiac and it brings forth a superbly subtle handling of the piano part from Lang Lang, almost melancholy in its slight understatement, yet also capable of tremendous bursts of power. All three movements are slower than Abduraimov and the Italian RAI orchestra. It seems to me that both are equally fine, Abduraimov feeling more knife-edge, but Lang Lang having that irresistible melancholy. The first movement has some daringly slow passages, giving a confiding, intimate aspect the work doesn't usually have to this degree. Of course the pianism itself has many startling moments - the double octaves in the first movement development fired off almost without pedal, like a springbok gone berserk - but always with this feeling of immensity in the broader picture; Lang Lang as Atlas holding up the world, perhaps. The Mendelssohn has to have a smaller scale, but it too is surprisingly restrained and shows the most wonderful perle touch in fast sections. Here I would definitely go for Jean-Yves Thibaudet's explosive energy if I could only have one version, but Lang Lang's intense musicality always demands to be heard - there is no more extraordinary pianist.
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on 30 March 2013
Land Lang has his own unique way of interpreting this music and his has achieved excellent results. I love this CD.
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on 27 November 2013
Lang Lang's recordings are such a joy to listen to - after many years of listening to other musicians, his music has a vitality that reaches you in a unique way.
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on 29 December 2008
Lang Lang is probably the best interpreter of this signature piano concerto alive today. Anyone who has heard Lang Lang perform this piece live (as I did) will know that his rendition will rouse an audience with a passion and power that is second to none. Fortunately, the CD also captures this in a wonderful recording conducted by Daniel Barenboim in which the fortes are magnificent, the pianos are tender and the phrasing is utterly precise and smooth at the same time. For me, this recording redefined the way I expect to hear Tchaikowsky's First Piano Concerto, and is the standard against which I compare all other interpretations.
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on 22 July 2011
This is the first performance from Lang Lang that I hear and I'm sorry to say that it will be the last.

The Tchaikovsky concerto sounds to me as if the performer had some problem with the piano. For the lively passages he seems to be pounding the keys instead of playing them (if you know what I mean) and for the solo parts at some point he displays slowness near boredom instead of subtle playing.

I will listen to his Mendelssohn some other day... when my ears have recovered from this experience.
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on 21 January 2014
Not his finest performance - it's all rather rushed and doesn't flow with the romance and emotion it deserves.
I'm disappointed
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on 1 May 2010
Tchaikovsky / Mendelssohn: First Piano Concertos

.I have many piano concerti etc. but this one is by far my favourite.It`s the only one where the piano can be heard as it should be, not drowned out. This is my third Lang Lang album and certainly not my last.
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on 30 April 2016
Classic performance by a classic artist - Brilliant
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on 5 July 2014
very pleased with quality and delivery
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