Deceptively simple Mozart's early piano sonatas are among the hardest to “get right.” One of my favorite recordings of Mozart's piano sonatas is that of Claudio Arrau, and he was in his 80's when he made it.
All the more stunning then is the maturity and depth of interpretation shown by 30-year-old Lang Lang. Balance, contrast, and logical flow of movements in each of the three sonatas: thoughtful sound dynamic, from gossamer pianissimo to masculine forte, with all the nuances in between; contemplative, even meditative, approach, as if music fabric is being woven right before your eyes, here and now; and—the sign of true mastery—the musician is not afraid of rests, each extended pause feeling like an intake of breath: the music is alive, and there is no hint of mechanical predictability. It is truly gratifying that the pianist's considerable virtuosity is subordinate to solving a purely musical task: in discovering his Mozart, Lang Lang has managed to reveal facets both Beethovenian and Schubertian. Moreover, the often overlooked introspection in the early Mozart's sonatas is what has bridged two parts of the Sunday's recital, bringing together composers so different as Mozart and Chopin.
Finally, it is impossible not to notice the formidable expressive power of the pianist's left hand, contributing mightily to what Abram Yusfin called “the discernability of musical texture:” the clarity and gravitas of themes played by the left hand sometimes creating a counterpoint to, other times flowing effortlessly into the themes in the right hand. I wouldn't be surprised if the sense of musical form coupled with the expressiveness of his gesture might lead Lang Lang eventually to a conducting career.