Disc 2 begins with Isaac Albeniz's "Iberia, Book I" in three movements. The pianist emphasizes the varied rhythms in the work and notes the folk influences as well as the soft focus coloring of the French Impressionists. This is followed by Sonata No. 7 in B-Flat Major, Op. 83 by Prokofiev, sometimes called the "Stalingrad," one of the "War Sonatas." As passionate in a modern idiom as the Beethoven's are in the Romantic, the piece gives the artist an opportunity to recreate what he calls a "warlike mood."
Three Chopin encores conclude the recital. There is an etude and a waltz, but the central piece is the Polonaise No. 6 in A-Flat Major, Op. 53, the famous "Heroic" Polonaise. This, of course, is one of the great piano show pieces. Like the "Appasionata," it offers the pianist an opportunity to showcase his skills in the context of all those virtuosos who have gone before. Lang Lang's performance has all the drama of the best of them.
Live in Vienna offers a nice variety while focusing on the strengths of the artist. There is a mix of the less familiar and the well known. There is plenty of opportunity for skilled dexterity. There is a range of emotion. Lang Lang knows how to choose his repertoire, and it is all played with a consummate skill and technique. If this CD is any indication, he may indeed be just what is needed to develop a new audience for classical music; he is without doubt just the tonic necessary to reinvigorate the old one. Three million may be just about the right price for such a talent.