The Princesses' Round Dance Igor Stravinsky
Discover these epic piano concertos with our handy guide to Lang Lang and Simon Rattle's new album with the Berlin Philharmonic.
Track 1: With its angular tunes and angry chords, Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 packs a punch at the beginning of the album - a taste of the musical drama yet to come.
Sir Simon said: "I have to say I don't know when I've ever heard a pianist who was able to be sheerly, uncannily accurate in this piece and then still have the technical ability in reserve to make it dance and to make it phrase."
Track 2: The close-knit woodwind come to the fore in this understated theme and variation movement, with a piano tune that's at once eerie and beautiful. This movement was probably started as early as 1913, but wasn't fully completed until 1921.
Sir Simon Rattle described Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 as a kind of showpiece for the composer to play on the piano. "He’d already written the First and Second Concertos for himself and the Third is very much a mixture of the spirit of Paris in the twenties, and America, and his type of look back at Russia,” he said.
Track 3: Lang Lang's fingers dash over the keyboard in this impressively meaty final movement, filled with brilliantly spiky piano tunes. It's easy to see why Prokofiev himself called it an 'argument' between the soloist and orchestra.
It's relentless, it's exciting: no wonder Lang Lang's described the Prokofiev concerto as one of his favourites. "The spirit of the playing is extraordinary, and it has such a Russian feel to it," he said. "It’s also incredibly fast in places."
Track 4: Hold on to your hats for this impressive display of stamina from Lang Lang and the Berlin Phil. The piano stops playing for only 23 bars in the entire first movement.
Sir Simon Rattle praised Lang Lang's technical ability when tackling the fiendish music - there aren't many pianists who'll take on Bartók's ambitious concerto without a fight.
Track 5: The concerto's famous for being one of the most difficult in the repertoire, but the second movement couldn't be more different in feel from the relentless first movement. Expect ominous strings and delicate piano interludes, interspersed with menacing timpani rolls.
Renowned for its extreme complexity, pianists the world over have struggled with Bartók's concerto. András Schiff described it as a "finger-breaking piece", and Stephen Kovacevich declared it to be the most technically demanding piece he'd ever performed.
Track 6: Take a deep breath and brace yourself for the final minutes of some of Bartók's most intense piano music, with orchestral passages brought to life by the Berlin Phil. The final movement is a breathless sprint to the finish, in an Allegro molto lasting just over six and a half minutes.
"You have so many notes, there’s so much going on, but you still need to have 100 per cent control in the slower passages,” Lang Lang said of the Bartók concerto. We couldn't have summed it up any better ourselves.