Lang Lang puts poetry above pageantry at MSO mid-season gala

MSO Mid-Season Gala: Lang Lang
Hamer Hall, July 4

They came to see a superstar and no doubt many of those in attendance will have expected a show. However, that's not quite what China's most famous musical son had in mind.

Rather than the flash-bang-wallop of the Romantic canon, legendary pianist Lang Lang offered one of the Classical period's most emotionally shaded works: Mozart's Piano Concerto No 24 in C minor.

Lang Lang at the MSO mid-season gala.Credit:Laura Manariti

Music of such nuanced drama, backed by only a fraction of the MSO's full ranks, may have seemed a peculiar choice for an artist so steeped in glitz and glamour that his sequined tuxedos have been almost as closely chronicled as his playing.

But this was a different Lang Lang to the musician who last visited our shores in 2016.

Since then, he has endured a period of forced hiatus to recover from an arm injury and tied the knot with fellow pianist Gina Alice Redlinger. It seems these personal trials and triumphs have ripened him into a more thoughtful, focused musician.

Not that Lang Lang has jettisoned all the spitfire pizazz that powered the ascent of his stardom. There were certainly flashes of that dauntless bravura in the sudden eruptions of the first movement and the militaristic pomp of the last. However, overall this was a display that placed poetry above pageantry.

As if to compensate, conductor Kirill Karabits brought an abundance of chutzpah to the podium, but perhaps he should have taken his lead from the evening's headliner? While the grandest gestures were certainly robust, a rather two-dimensional trot through Mozart's Marriage of Figaro overture and an under-defined rendering of Rachmaninov's Third Symphony could have used a keener eye for detail.

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