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display and inwardness brought as close as they can be
on 11 January 2016
Lang Lang starts this recital in gentle mode with the Romance O Pourquoi donc, surprising in all ways, and the dominant tone of the recital is almost angled more towards Liszt's reflective writing, taking in the famous Liebestraum No.3, fantastically shaped so that you hear it anew. A bit earlier comes the Consolation No.3, and the marvellous Un Sospiro which is the Lisztian melody par excellence, used so memorably in the film Letter from an unknown woman and also All I desire; nothing could express yearning in its pure state better than this. However where fireworks do come into their own you certainly know it: the most cataclysmic, thrilling pounding octaves in the bass in the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6, while No. 15 takes you through similar flights, and the Grand Galop chromatique. The Liebestod is a further surprise, but ties in brilliantly as it follows another arrangement, of Schubert's Ave Maria. The disc ends with a brilliant performance of the First Concerto, whose excitement is fully unleashed. The DVD shows Lang Lang in the Teldex studio in Berlin, essentially, recording La Campanella, and to see it gives it even more urgency than just hearing it on the CD. Turning up at the studio in a t-shirt whith a huge poppy photo on the front and trainers, he seems very relaxed and completely genial, not at all strained by the task at hand. The disc is one of three releases from Liszt's bicentenary year that are necessary recordings, alongside Bertrand Chamayou's traversal of the Annees de pelerinage complete and Brigitte Engerer's Harmonies poetiques et religieuses. Each bring out a different quality of the composer; Lang Lang showing him to be a creator of fireworks in music, some of them in surprisingly subtle and muted colours as well.