Stories » Lang Lang's new Goldberg Variations release finds him bridging musical objectivity and strong personality / THE CLASSIC REVIEW

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Lang Lang's new Goldberg Variations release finds him bridging musical objectivity and strong personality / THE CLASSIC REVIEW

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This is the first time start pianist Lang Lang records a big Bach piece, having recorded only short samples for few collections. Although generally associated with large virtuoso repertoire, Lang Lang does perform and record classical repertoire such as Mozart and Beethoven, where more modest qualities of his playing come to light. This new Goldberg Variations release finds him bridging musical objectivity and strong personality.

In the (many) promotional materials for this album, the pianist said he plays and studies the Goldberg Variations for 20 years, and his performance is clearly considered. He always ads interesting ornaments and variants in dynamics to the second repeat of each variation, and there is a constant bit to the complete cycle, making it feel like a whole even on the slow variations. This continuous perception makes for some unique tempo choices, as in the variations 13 and 25 ("Black Pearl"), which are slower than most, or variation 19, which is given a jumpy character. That's not to say Lang's performance is overly calculated. In fact, the first 10 variations are delivered with high spirit and are the more successful succession of this performance.

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