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In Haydn's puckish, and occasionally rude E major sonata, Mr Lang demonstrates just how studentish and misinformed he is in the household of classical decorum. For him, staccato hardly means the separation of one pitch from another in the context of breadth and resonance, as it should and must, but is naively an opportunity to strangle the life out of a note.

Elsewhere, his reading of Rachmaninoff's noble B flat minor sonata is so empty headed and musically inept as to irritate even the most ardent devotee of this otherwise exquisite work. The litany of major interpretive gaffes (witness his blasé and wholly meaningless equalization of each note in the blustery arpeggio that inaugurates the work, thus compromising the diabolical descent onto the tonic) are complemented by unintelligible, threadbare pedaling. Oblivious to the work's evocation of Russian bells and its embrace of harmonic ambiguity as a measure of its angst, Mr Lang demonstrates a wholesale misunderstanding of Rachmaninoff's aesthetic and the specific expressive traditions that inform it. Hardly one disposed to subtlety, his crude, even amateur reading of Brahms's popular suite Op 118 is tantamount to an assault, and discloses how serious his rhythmical deficiencies really are.

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Copyright © 19 May 2001 John Bell Young, Tampa, Florida, USA

 

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