“Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, and life to everything. It is the essence of order, and leads to all that is good, just and beautiful, of which it is the invisible, but nevertheless dazzling, passionate, and eternal form.”
Plato

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Lang Lang at the Phil: I Rest My Case

     If you've been following this blog for awhile, you know how I feel about unnecessary tension in the hands. You also know that, although there are many technical approaches to making music at the piano, it is possible to play virtuosically without exaggerated extensions in the playing apparatus. This latter approach I call a natural one, using the body according to its design. By that I mean stretching or pulling to extremes has no place in a fluent and efficient technique. It's what I prefer.
Sergei Prokofiev.
     The technical sensation Lang Lang appeared in Los Angeles recently, offering up the Prokofiev 3rd concerto. He played it, apparently, with considerable flair, as expected, though Mark Swed, the Times critic, thought he seemed somehow bored with it. I didn't hear the concert, but I've heard Lang Lang on other occasions and I can report that he is a technical phenomenon. (I can't imagine how a pianist could be bored with this piece. I have to admit, though, that once as I was sitting on a competition jury, having heard several Prokofiev 3rds in a row, I decided then and there never to hear it again.)
   
Lang Lang at the L.A. Phil. Photo by Lawrence K. Ho
 in the L.A. Times.
 In his review, Swed made the following observation: 
"His technique looked like a spectacular acrobatic embellishment of Chico's exaggerated finger work in Marx Brothers movies. That, too, may wind up a big deal. A physician in the audience quipped at intermission that he hopes the Chinese superstar has a good pension plan. Hands cannot sustain that kind of playing for long."  I have to agree. 
     Side note: Look at Prokofiev's hand on the keyboard above.
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