Central Philharmonic Orchestra of China
Long Yu, conducting
Review by: Robert Zierolf
No pianist since Evgeny Kissin has caused such a stir at a young age as has Lang
Lang. His technique is up to any notes ever composed for his instrument, and his
stage presence and general exuberance add to the prominence of his reputation.
Dragon Songs contributes to audience desire for his work and as well adds to the
rapidly growing interest in all things Chinese. The recording presents Chinese
compositions and arrangements of folk music ranging from the concerto to traditional
music. The Yellow River Concerto is exemplary of the composer-collective composition
favored during the Cultural Revolution. Commissioned by Mao's wife, it begins
and ends with Rachmaninov-like sonority and brilliant pianism, which Lang Lang
performs with typical aplomb. Much else is based on folk song, the Internationale,
and other music that sounds indigenous to China. Whatever its musical merits,
or lack of them, it is a historical piece reflecting its times. Other works are
short arrangements of traditional music for piano solo or with traditional Chinese
folk instruments. All very interesting and well recorded.
The second disc is a DVD comprising Lang Lang's descriptions of the original
meanings of the works then performing them. Check out his duds worn for the
concerto. I recommend viewing the DVD before listening to the CD.
Zierolf is Professor of Music Theory and
History and Division head of Composition,
Musicology, and Theory at the College-Conservatory
of Music, University of Cincinnati. He is
also a freelance writer on classical music.