The recent arts programme 'Imagine' featuring the Chinese pianist Lang Lang included a moving interview with his father who, when Lang was just 9, became so angry at what he perceived his son's lack of commitment that he suggested he commit suicide. Lang chose life, but imagine what must have gone through his young mind. He worked hard and burnished what is now a formidable technique, but after that early experience music could never be life or death for him. Some artists perform as though their lives depend on it. Lang can be forgiven for perhaps always holding back. At the age of 30 he has silenced his earlier critics who complained he was too much the show man. That act is gradually giving way to a more thoughtful and sensitive pianist. If Lang can ever find it in him to really let go, he could be one of the greats. For now we must settle for an exceptionally gifted virtuoso who connects with many but still irritates others.
So far, I have chosen fabulous performances and recordings of single pieces but this choice is the first collection by an artist: Lang Lang Live in Vienna (Sony 88697719012). As I listen to Lang play Beethoven's Piano Sonata number 3 I marvel at his music making but also dream of what this amazing talent might one day achieve.