Lang Lang’s 2011 Performance at Albert Hall
Regarding Lang Lang’s 2011 performance of Liszt’s Piano Concerto No 1 at Albert Hall, I thought the performance was superb but, in all honesty, I enjoyed it more the second time with my eyes closed. Lang Lang’s exaggerated facial expressions and hand movements in slow motion were distracting from the music itself. At times, I also found that it made it difficult to take him seriously as a professional musician. The passion and excitement that Lang Lang felt while performing would have translated into his playing without all of the unnecessary theatrics. The overdone expressions and movements took away from the performance rather than added to it. The camera movements also had a tendency to draw my attention away from the music to the bright blue dresses of the violinists, the red dress of the cellist, the conductor’s bad haircut or the ornate columns of Albert Hall.
The performance itself seemed flawless. It was particularly impressive that Lang Lang played the entire time without looking at a sheet of music. Also, there were several sections during this performance where I was amazed at his ability to play such technically involved music at such high speeds, specifically in the last couple of minutes of the piece. Lang Lang demonstrated his skill throughout the show in several different aspects. The powerful notes were hit hard and some of the high parts were played as delicately as a whisper. Transitions between the different sections were smooth. Particularly during a section, a little more than half way through, where the music begins to build toward what sounds like a big climax, indicated by an increase in tempo and volume, but right before it reaches the pinnacle, seamlessly transitions into a section that is soft and delicate, the exact opposite of the previous one. Conductor Edward Gardner and the BBC Symphony Orchestra also gave an outstanding performance and are not to be overlooked. In my opinion the standing ovation for Lang Lang, the conductor and orchestra was well-deserved.