Chinese concert pianist Lang Lang is a formidable force in the world of classical music. With a repertoire spanning the works of some of the greatest composers to have lived, his credentials only get more impressive by the year. He has also been involved in a wide array of performances, such as performing with Metallica at the 56th Grammys and playing in front of numerous global dignitaries. When he’s not entertaining the likes of The Queen, Barack Obama and Hu Jintao, he’s making intriguing studio albums.
His latest project, ‘New York Rhapsody’ is an evocative collection of material conveying images of the iconic city. In typical Lang Lang fashion, he has incorporated music of artists and composers from different eras.
Let me start with what I’m struggling with on this album. The songs chosen are well-known in their original form as is to be expected. But this means that certain alternative vocalists are grating on me slightly. For example, Jason Isbell’s vocals on Elbow’s ‘New York Morning’ are far too countrified to fit a city theme. However, the song that really bothers me is ‘Empire State of Mind’ which both Jay-Z and Alicia Keys made an absolute masterpiece. Andra Day simply can’t emulate or build upon the original. The rhythm and cadence just don’t work for me.
An evocative collection of material conveying images of the iconic city.
Where this album shines is the true classic of Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ which keeps it’s vivid Big Apple imagery intact. This is probably Lang Lang at his best on the album. Furthermore, other guest vocalists and musicians actually do the original justice. Madeleine Peyroux is a fantastic choice for ‘Moon River’ and the appearance from Lindsey Stirling on the ‘Main Theme’ from Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man’ trilogy is a perfect match.
An album of mixed results, but one of variation akin to Lang Lang’s diverse career.
By Will Hunt
Some good covers, some are lacklustre
Madeleine Peyroux and Linsey Stirling add value
Generally evocative of the album subject
Listen to the Spider-Man theme performed by Lang Lang and Linsey Stirling below:
|1. Story of Our Town|
|2. New York Morning (feat. Jason Isbell)|
|3. Empire State Of Mind (feat. Andra Day)|
|4. Rhapsody in Blue (feat. Herbie Hancock)|
|5. New York Minute (feat. Kandace Springs)|
|6. Somewhere (Dirty Blvd.) (feat. Lisa Fischer and Jeffrey Wright)|
|7. Spider-Man Theme (feat. Lindsey Stirling)|
|8. Tonight (feat. Sean Jones)|
|9. Moon River (feat. Madeleine Peyroux)|
|10. In Evening Air|