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Title - 'Chopin: Piano Concerto Nos.1 & 2' [2LP Vinyl]
Artist - Lang Lang

For those not in the classical know, Lang Lang is a Chinese concert pianist who has performed with leading orchestras in Europe, the United States, Canada and his native China.

Lang has given recitals and concerts in many major cities and was the first Chinese pianist to be engaged by the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic and some top American orchestras.

Just released, this is the first vinyl issue of Lang Lang’s recording of the two Chopin Piano Concertos with the Vienna Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta; mastered at half-speed over two vinyl LPs.

This wondrous new package features the original artwork and being first time on vinyl, are both on 180g pressings, mastered from the original sources.

Side A:
Chopin: Piano Concerto No.1 in E Minor, Op.11
1. Allegro maestoso (20:05)

Side B:
Chopin: Piano Concerto No.1 In E Minor, Op.11
2. Romance (Larghetto) (10:00)
3. Rondo (Vivace) (10:07)

Side C:
Chopin: Piano Concerto No.2 In F Minor, Op.21
1. Maestoso (14:23)

Side D:
Chopin: Piano Concerto No.2 In F Minor, Op.21
2. Larghetto (9:42)
3. Allegro vivace (8:51)

As I'm sure you are all well aware by now, both these concertos are among the most beloved in the repertoire and Lang Lang's many concert performances frequently receive the highest praise.

As noted, Lang Lang is joined by Zubin Mehta and the Vienna Philharmonic in a brilliant pairing of talent and temperament which has also ensured that this recording has become a benchmark of these beloved concertos.

A little history note here is that the 'Piano Concerto No. 1' (1830) was written by Chopin when he was only twenty years old. It was first performed on 11th October of that year, in Warsaw, with the composer as soloist, during one of his “farewell” concerts before leaving Poland.

As we know, it was the first of Chopin's two piano concertos to be published, and was therefore given the designation of Piano Concerto “No. 1” at the time of publication, even though it was actually written immediately after the premiere of what was later published as 'Piano Concerto No. 2.'

Chopin wrote the second piece before he had even finished his formal education, and it was first performed on 17th March 1830, in Warsaw, Poland, with the composer, again, as soloist.

In truth, the opening movements nearly 4 minutes orchestration sounds languid, but the piece soon gained beautiful momentum once the piano solo enters - and note the beautiful touch Lang Lang gives, together with the lively nuances to each phrase. Wow!

Then, at around 9 minutes, the development sections start to explode although you may well argue that the orchestration was not nearly as explosive - but is the piece really `explosive' in this part, is the quietly muttered question?

Regardless, the solo passages assuage sorrow, soothed dejection, and gave a subliminal account of the colorful emotions starting just after the 12 minute mark. This is one of the best performances of the section, in my humble opinion.

The remainder of the movement leading up to the grand finale is sheer, and beautiful, most ethereal experience, and the cadenza from the 18th minute onward is a real poetic wonder in the hands of Lang Lang.

The Second Movement, `Romance' consists of an even-tempo romantic account without deployment of any excessive rubato playing or senseless dragging. Lang Lang's exquisite touch is again accounted for, the sheer beauty of tone and freely breathable phrasing incredible from start to finish.

The Third Movement, Rondo Vivace is not as fast paced as Yundi Li's, that's for sure. That not withstanding, the performance was not without brio or sparkle, of that be rest assured. The syncopation's are very clever, and the accelerator codas smart at around the 3 minute mark.

As an aside, to all the non-pianists reading this, despite stereotypes to the contrary, Chopin's music is well-suited to the human hand and not technically difficult in the way Liszt's (for example) is, but it does take many hours of practice to get all but his simplest, shortest pieces to high-end performance-readiness.

Ergo, if you like piano music and if you like Chopin, I'd definitely recommend this brand-new-to-vinyl 2018 release, or indeed the released-in-2008 CD recording.

Official Lang Lang 'Chopin: Piano Concerto Nos.1 & 2' [2LP Vinyl] Purchase Link