I feel like the spectre at the feast here.
There was a sold-out audience at Symphony Hall on Thursday vociferously applauding the young Chinese super-pianist Lang Lang, even between movements of Beethoven piano sonatas, but I was left totally cold and in fact indignant at this display of spectacle before substance (and at the discourtesy of a 15-minute late start – any extenuating circumstances, please let me know).
So many histrionic gestures charmed the sight, but musical insights were seriously lacking in Beethoven’s C major Sonata Op2 (careful differentiation between the composer’s dynamic levels would have helped) and the famous Appassionata Sonata (though here flashiness can cover an abyss of intellectual emptiness).
Things were better in the second half, with more subtle use of shadings and colourings in Book One of Albeniz’ Iberia. And the wonderful Seventh Sonata of Prokofiev drew subtle balances of texture from this young man who would really benefit from being taken in hand by a master-pianist.
I see in the programme that Alfred Brendel is giving a talk at Birmingham Town Hall in June. Perhaps Lang Lang could clear his diary to be there.