Lang Lang and Liberace

Went to see Lang Lang last night, the renowned Chinese pianist who, it seems, divides opinion.  A rather sniffy review in The Telegraph was typical of Lang Lang detractors: style over substance, too much of a showman, etc.

One comment online amused me: “Lang Lang needs to remind himself that he is a Pianist (sic) and not an entertainer.”

Like, you can’t be both?

Me, I like a bit of style and showmanship and my musical ear is not so sophisticated that I can necessarily tell when it overshadows the substance.  He sounded excellent to me: he played it all without either sheet music or wrong notes and that’s impressive to start with.

When I was a kid, there was still a place on TV for pianists as light entertainers.  Bobby Crush was a a teenager who won “Opportunity Knocks” and was rather like Liberace in his twinkly campness.  And what about Gladys “Mrs” Mills?  She was a jolly piano-thumper, with dinner lady’s arms and a repertoire of end-of-pier singalongs.

Anyway, This (below) is Lang Lang on The One Show about a year ago.  The really fast stuff (Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca) starts at around 7.50.

Last night, Lang Lang’s  main piece was a Mozart concerto in C minor which sounded lovely, but he was more subdued than I was hoping.  His encore was more to my taste: an impossibly fast version of Chopin’s Grande Valse Brilliante, with adornments aplenty, great leaps in the left hand.  Add a few more rings on his fingers and grins at the audience and he could be a reincarnation of Liberace.  There are those who would say that is a bad thing.  Not I.

Here’s Liberace, from 1969.

And, just for fun, a six year old Lang Lang wannabe called Chung Chung:

 

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