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Although in the past I have been rather dismissive of Lang Lang, this DVD reveals something very special. The Chopin Dance Project was filmed in Paris in 2013, with Lang Lang finding inspiration in the work of the Houston Ballet. In a collaborative gesture such as this (albeit one imagined by himself), Lang Lang’s playing seems to be more focused on honouring the composer. As a result, he is remarkably static at the piano in the G minor Ballade, delivered with both poetry and an excellent, barn-storming coda. It does not last throughout, and some of those ecstatic faces he pulls occur in Op 10, while the Valse brillante is dry, unsubtle and ends with a typical Lang Lang gesture (hands flying off the keyboard). There is planned interaction with the dancers (the Fourth Ballade begins with a female dancer looking wistfully at the pianist, for example).

The Andante spianato is separated from the Grande Polonaise by a couple of intervening pieces. The dancers begin and end the event gathered in front of the piano with heads bowed, as if in respect. In between there is a parade of beautiful responses to Chopin’s heartfelt music, from solos through duets and trios. The video direction is excellent – a particularly nice shot is seeing Lang Lang from between two dancers’ shoulders.

This collaboration between Lang Lang and Stanton Welch and the Houston Ballet seeks to put music and dance on equal terms and, even if it is (rightly) Chopin’s great genius that dominates, the result is frequently magical.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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