Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2, Rhapsody On a Theme of Paganini, Prelude Op. 23
Lang Lang, Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra & Valery Gergiev
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Star pianist Lang Lang joins star conductor Valery Gergiev and the Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theater to perform two star-making works of the piano and orchestra repertoire. Both works contain themes that are very familiar to many. The third movement of the Piano Concerto No. 2 contains the "Full Moon and Empty Arms" theme, while the Rhapsody has the romantic 18th variation that is frequently heard in film soundtracks. The real attraction here, however, is the combination of two spectacular musicians who each have their own following and their own distinct style of interpretation. Lang Lang is known for being highly individual and subjective, and Gergiev is known for his attention to detail and the vitality of his readings. The resulting combination here is guaranteed to be unique and, at times, surprising., Rovi
Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini
Wonderfully played. Lang Lang, as usual, takes astounding liberties and, most of the time, gets away with it. I have a bone to pick with Apple, however. There have been many valid criticisms about classical music being the step child of iTunes. This recording shows that the people who prepare the music for download have no understanding of it. The Rhapsody has multiple variations that follow one another without pause. Apple has tried to divide them into separate tracks, which is almost impossible to do without having jarring discontinuties. Separating movements is one thing; trying to separate sections that follow in a continuous flow takes more skill and time than has been applied here. Until this is fixed, I recommend not buying this recording.
Lang Lang's playing is great, chopping up the tracks isn't
iTunes has a fetish for breaking up pieces of music into tracks which makes it easier to sell but it ruins the flow of the music. The variations in the Paganini Rhapsody are supposed to flow together and here they don't. This isn't the first time either, the Mahler Symphony of 1000 with Simon Rattle suffers the same way. It's a shame, really, because Lang Lang's playing has a transcendent quality which shouldn't be missed.
Great recording, poor layout by iTunes
I love Lang Lang and this recording of one of my favorite works is no exception. While others may offer complaints about his interpretation, I find it fresh and exciting. HOWEVER, the way iTunes presents this work for sale, chopping it up into salable little chuncks, is really inappropriate. Having 20 little gaps between segments totally ruins the segues created by the composer. I am seriously reconsidering whether I will buy any more music from iTunes for this reason.
Born: June 14, 1982 in Shenyang, China
Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s