Lang Lang might well be the most polarizing pianist working today, a reputation that helps makes every London appearance an event. He is also one of the most popular – outside the inexpensive Proms, few classical musicians could pack out the Royal Albert hall for three successive nights. In November and December, Lang Lang will rejoin Salonen for another trio of concerts, this time tackling a diverse repertoire. Book soon – the Royal Festival Hall has less than half the capacity of the Royal Albert, so tickets are likely to fly.
The first concert, on Thursday 26th November, is devoted to Edvard Grieg, a composer sadly often only encountered through to his incidental music for Ibsen’s Peer Gynt (1876). The second half of the night is devoted to that iconic suite, but before the interval Lang Lang will lead in the Piano Concerto (1868), heavily inspired by Schumann and adored by Liszt. Tchaikovsky praised its “perfect simplicity”, so it will be interesting to see what such pyrotechnic, virtuosic pianist makes of it.
On Tuesday 1st December, the orchestra will play Beethoven’s seldom played Zur Namensfeier (1815) overture and his Symphony No. 2 (1801-2), joined by Lang Lang for Bartok’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (1930-1) – infamously one of the most difficult works in the canon, what András Schiff called “a finger-breaking piece.”
The third night, Thursday 3rd, is devoted to Russia. Excerpts from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet (1935-6) will be followed by the same composer’s third Piano Concerto (1917-21), a piece known for its mercurial transformations and abundance of ideas. For Lang Lang, it is a chance to prove his ability to encompass variety. The series ends with the Philharmonia tackling Scriabin’s prismatic Poem of Ecstasy (1905-8), which beckoned Russian music into the twentieth century using chromaticism and dissonance.
|What||Lang Lang & Esa-Pekka Salonen, Royal Festival Hall|
|Where||Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
On 26 Nov 15, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
On 01 Dec 15, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
On 03 Dec 15, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Website||Click here to book via the Philharmonia website|