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Lang Lang | NY Phil: Grieg & Beethoven / Financial Times review

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The Lincoln Center opening with the New York Philharmonic had TV cameras roaming the stage nonstop. The 2,742-seat house, acoustically problematic since its opening as Philharmonic Hall in 1962, had undergone costly yet ineffective improvement as Avery Fisher Hall in 1973. Now David Geffen Hall, the new title commemorates a single donor's $100m contribution towards a long-term renovation project ultimately estimated at $500m.

The programme featured only two hum-along hits, with no interval. Grieg's Piano Concerto gave way to Beethoven's Seventh Symphony. The central attraction, aka box office lure, turned out to be the superstar pianist Lang Lang. Minutely choreographed, his Grieg was marked, also marred, by mannerism. The performance suggested nothing so much as virtuosity for its own sake. Mugging shamelessly, the popular hero delivered fast fury, confirming a dazzling technique aligned to dubious interpretive instincts. As always, one had to admire his volcanic bravura while regretting his explosive bravado.

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