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The Boston Globe

Music

Music Review

Lang Lang brings romance to Rachmaninoff at the BSO

Last night’s Boston Symphony Orchestra program sandwiched two historic BSO commissions around a piano concerto from the first decade of the 20th century, but there was nothing old about the performances. Guest conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos led idiosyncratic readings of Paul Hindemith’s Konzertmusik for Strings and Brass and Béla Bartók’s “Concerto for Orchestra.” It was, however, guest pianist Lang Lang who stole the show with a dizzyingly over-the-top rendition of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

The Hindemith, which Serge Koussevitzky debuted with the BSO in 1931, begins with ominous dotted rhythms that suggest a war machine. Its two movements eventually turn somber, a hymn emerging from the gloomy cello forebodings of the first, a brass threnody from the bustling fugue of the second. Frühbeck de Burgos directed a high-octane performance, with the brass sometimes overwhelming the strings. It seemed a little hectic until the transition from “Lebhaft” to “Langsam,” when the strings got a chance to sigh against first solo trombone and then solo trumpet.

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