Lang Lang is known for his crowd-pleasing showmanship. In this instance, however, it appears the showmanship became a liability. Ivan Hewett of The Telegraph writes a tough review.
If being the world’s most sought-after classical pianist is a burden, Lang Lang doesn’t show it. At Thursday night’s concert, the first of a three-part series he’s giving with the Philharmonia, he strolled on to the Festival Hall stage as if he owned it, waving with languid indulgence to the ecstatic, jam-packed hall.
Once seated at the piano for Grieg’s Piano Concerto, Lang Lang became a different person, vibrating with suppressed energy. He has the kind of technique that thrives on difficulty. The harder the trickling cascades of notes, the more thunderously rapid the double-octaves, the quicker Lang Lang threw them off. That might have been enjoyable if he’d been on his own. Here there was the small inconvenience of the Philharmonia Orchestra, which despite conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen’s alert direction often found itself trailing the wilful pianist by half a bar or so.
A deeper problem was that Lang Lang’s delight in virtuosity and working the crowd took precedence over the music. That’s bad, because emphasising an unimportant bass note or the final part of a phrase just because it makes for a fine gesture is an insult to our intelligence. Here and there one caught a glimpse of a sensitive musician lurking inside that elegant, Armani-suited exterior. Most of the time Lang Lang seemed determined to hide him. read more at telegraph.co.uk