Lang Lang and his tricky spots

Lang Lang and his tricky spots


norman lebrecht

November 29, 2020

No, not an enduring adolescent disorder.

Nor the bit in the Brahms D minor concerto (which I don’t remember him ever playing).

It’s the sub-head on his latest cover story.

Made my day.



  • We privatize your value says:

    And Karajan always refused to conduct that piece (the Brahms D minor concerto). There must be something about it that makes some musical minds recoil.

  • Schoenberglover says:

    Looks like he has played the Brahms D minor as a matter of fact. The reviewer doesn’t seem very pleased.

    • Charles Clark-Maxwell says:

      Sv Richter refused to play 1st concerto because first movement is d minor, 2nd d major and 3rd d minor/major.

    • Marfisa says:

      That review was scathing. I chanced to hear last week a very early morning Classical 24 broadcast of Lang Lang, Mischa Maisky and Vadim Repin murdering Rachmaninov, trio elegiaque 1, in very much the same way. If L L could make Brahms sound like Rachmaninov, imagine what horrors he inflicts on Rachmaninov himself! (The performance in the last SD daily comfort zone is fine.) Lang Lang will not get my Udiscover vote!

    • M says:

      Yes, he has played it several times, including once in New York in 2009. James Levine conducted the Met Orchestra

    • Kenny says:

      The New York performance was equally clueless. One of my favorite pieces for 50 years.

  • JussiB says:

    I listen to Lang Lang when I want to hear the classics being manhandled beyond recognition, like his new Goldberg.

  • John Humphreys says:

    At least we’ve been spared Glenn Gould’s turgid maundering of the 1st concerto, the whole proceedings enlivened by Bernstein’s hilarious disclaimer. (I normally have nothing but unfettered admiration for GG)

  • Charles Clark-Maxwell says:

    He played it with Levine and the Met Orch. Faint praise indeed in a review :

    Mr. Lang managed to hit most, if not all, of the notes of this expansive concerto without allowing any rubato, dynamic contrast or poetic expression stand in the way of his declarative statement. The argument against him in the past was his reliance on histrionic physical gestures, but now that he has considerably cleaned up his act, it is difficult not to concentrate on his lack of soulful interpretation. This current exercise was neither elegant nor eloquent.

    The sum total of Mr. Levine’s involvement was a rather worried stare at one point when Mr. Lang fell behind an entire measure, but the orchestra, sounding quite lovely to be sure, simply went through the motions rather than the emotions of the piece. […] much of this particular crowd, judging from their applause at the end of the first movement and their war-whooping at the work’s conclusion, was an unsophisticated one. Perhaps this was a sufficient effort for their initial foray into Brahms, but for those who expected something beyond a by the numbers experience – and paid well over one hundred dollars to hear it, the Carnegie Hall season ended on a sour note.

  • Sarah says:

    Norman, you may want to read the cover again…

    ‘Tricky spots’ is not the subheading for Lang Lang’s interview. That is the sub heading for the masterclass.

    So this is very misleading.