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The real gold here lies with the orchestra, right from the molten clarinets that open the Prokofiev through to the fire of the concerto’s close. The devilry, so vital to Prokofiev, comes almost uniquely from the Berliners. While there is much to admire in Lang Lang’s playing, his tone is (characteristically) rather fragile, and in the Theme and Variations central movement, he has a tendency to over-beautify. In many ways the finale is the most successful, and there is palpable excitement towards the end. Argerich, Ashkenazy, Yuja Wang, to name but a few, have more to say, though. The Bartók, another 20th-century favourite, fares better. Lang Lang seems more attuned to Bartók’s writing, even if he cannot match the orchestra’s rapt delivery in the central movement. Rattle’s rhythmic command is just magical in the finale, and here Lang Lang is not far behind. But even here, there are finer accounts available: Anda, Bavouzet and Pollini come to mind.

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Piano International, 2014 - ©Rhinegold Publishing