Lang Lang is a first-class communicator: his natural, enthusiastic personality lights up both his playing and the plentiful bonus interview material . . . delicate and playful, with many perceptive, humorous details . . . most inspiring music-making . . .
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BBC Music Magazine (London) / 01. January 2005
This is a marvellous recita . . . Lang Lang finds levels of tenderness and controlled elation that produce a powerful cumulative effect . . . Very strongly recommended, and not just to piano-fanciers.
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International Record Review (London) / 01. March 2005
Lang is an enormously gifted young pianist with plenty of technique and temperament . . . It's hard to sit through this recital without admiration (for his tonal play, for his ability to heighten details, for his sheer love of the music he's playing . . .
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Peter J. Rabinowitz,
Fanfare (Tenafly, NJ) / 01. March 2005
No wonder he's winning the young over to classical music like no-one else. He is also, as it happens, a superb pianist, an artist of exceptional if not always ideally channelled subtlety, a master of colour at every dynamic level, and an artist before a performer. Take away the hype, erase all preconceptions, and just listen . . . This is an outstanding recital, by any reasonable standard . . . Music-making simply doesn't come more fun than this. And it brings the (sold-out) house down. An utter delight.
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Piano (London) / 01. July 2006
Auf DVD in Bild und Ton festgehalten, kann man wunderbar verfolgen, wie dieser so euphorisch bewunderte . . . chinesisch-amerikanische Pianist eines der schwersten Klavierstücke, Franz Liszts "Réminiscences du Don Juan de Mozart", einem zuletzt besinnungslos jubelnden Publikum nahebringt. Ein Dokument, das so beiläufig wie überdeutlich erklärt, warum der mittlerweile 25-jährige Lang Lang zum begehrtesten und berühmtesten Pianisten der Welt geworden ist, der täglich Arenen mit Zehntausenden Menschen füllen könnte und dies derzeit auch bei einer Tournee von Open-Air-Konzerten vorführt . . . Ein sympathisch spontaner Grimasseur ist hier am Werke . . . was ihm Hunderttausende Fans beschert hat . . . diese mimisch theatralische Umsetzung musikalischer Verläufe begründet und ermöglicht Langs Popularität . . . Umgänglich, immer guter Laune, spontan, lebensgierig, unkompliziert, sprühend vor Ideen, in die Zukunft . . . stürmend -- so erlebt ihn das Publikum in Interviews wie Konzerten. Kein Grübeln, Problematisieren, keine intellektuellen Verrenkungen, kein Perfektionswahn.
Reinhard J. Brembeck,
Süddeutsche Zeitung / 29. June 2007
Am 7. November 2003 gab der Chinese in Amerika . . . sein Debüt in der legendären New Yorker Carnegie Hall. Wie nicht anders erwartet, bestand der Pianist auch diese Herausforderung mit Bravour.
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Der Musikmarkt (Starnberg) / 19. April 2004
Supersonic! Der hinreißende Klavierabend ist jetzt auf DVD verfügbar . . . und spannend anzusehen. Finger und Gesichtsausdruck eines eminent kommunikativen Pianisten ergänzen aufregend den Hörgenuss.
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Pizzicato (Luxembourg) / 01. December 2004
La primera obra elegida fueron las Variaciones Abegg op. 1 de Robert Schumann, donde Lang Lang muestra su prodigiosa técnica y la tremenda emoción que otorga a su interpretación. Interpreta el cantabile de esta obra con suave y acariciante pulsación, mostrando un intenso melodismo. ... El concierto de Lang Lang adquiere su punto más álgido con la Fantasía-Wanderer ... donde el allegro con fuoco es desarrollado con gran claridad expositiva, haciendo un magnífico uso de la mano izquierda. En el adagio acaricia materialmente el teclado, consiguiendo etéreas sonoridades. En el presto el sentimiento se torna en alegría, para mostrar increíbles agilidades, mientras que en el allegro final ofrece un auténtico ejercicio virtuosístico. ... variaciones a partir del duetto de Don Giovanni y Zerlina "Lá ci daren la mano" y el arioso de Don Glovanni "Fin ch'an dal vino", donde, de nuevo, este gran artista muestra su tremenda calidad interpretativa.
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Melómano (Madrid) / 01. January 2005
Lang Lang reúne dos condiciones básicas: en primer lugar una técnica absolutamente asombrosa que le permite acceder con seguridad a obras como las Remiscencias de Don Juan o a la compleja Fantasía Wanderer, pero por otro lado una sensibilidad musical con la que desgrana los aspectos más esenciales de las obras para presentarlas siempre bajo un discurso atrayente, refinado, profundo que repercute directamente en que cuando se escucha su interpretación, por muy conocida que sea la obra que pasa por sus manos, el oyente parece descubrir aspectos que hubieran quedado en un segundo término en versiones de referencia. Lang Lang triunfa por su técnica pero también por su sensibilidad.
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CD Compact (Barcelona) / 01. February 2005
Ya escuché esto antes en disco. Y si entonces quedé fascinado con este "nuevo" pianista, ahora, al verle, más: creo que es el mejor y más interesante desde la aparición del ya no joven Yevgeni Kissin; no es el único pianista de primera surgido en la última década, pero es el más completo, y, desde luego, el mejor músico e intérprete. La escucha de este DVD lo confirma palmariamente. ... Lang Lang se expresa con una pasmosa autoridad, haciendo de estas músicas auténticas nuevas creaciones para nuestros oídos... un solista excepcional en todo lo que toca, con una proyección de futuro increíble.
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Pedro González Mira,
Ritmo (Madrid) / 01. February 2005
Lang Lang Biography
Acclaimed in the major concert halls of North America, Europe and Asia, Lang Lang – at the age of 21 – has demonstrated an extraordinary ability to connect with audiences on a deeply personal level and has established himself as one of the most exciting pianists of our time. Lang Lang's talent and personality make him an ideal ambassador for classical music and a role model for young people. He has performed live on "Good Morning America" and on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and was also featured in The Wall Street Journal and in Teen People's issue highlighting "Top Twenty Teens Who Will Change the World". He is the first Chinese pianist to be engaged by the Berlin Philharmonic and all "Big Five" American orchestras.
Born in Shenyang, China, Lang Lang begins his piano studies at the age of three with Professor Zhu Ya-Fen from the Shenyang Conservatory of Music.
Wins first prize in the Shen Yang Piano Competition after which he gives his first public recital.
In the coming years he takes first prize in the Fifth Xing Hai Cup Piano Competition in Beijing, first prize and "outstanding artistic performance" in the Fourth International Young Pianists Competition in Germany, and first prize at the Second Tchaikovsky International Young Musicians' Competition held in 1995 in Japan.
Enters the Central Music Conservatory in Beijing, where he studies with Professor Zhao Ping-Guo.
Plays the complete Chopin Études in the Beijing Concert Hall.
In September, performs as one of the soloists at the inaugural concert of the China National Symphony, which President Jiang Ze-Min attends as guest of honour.
Begins studies with Gary Graffman at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, which he concludes in 2002.
US début appearance, with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
Decisive career breakthrough in August with his dramatic last-minute substitution for an indisposed André Watts at the Ravinia Festival's "Gala of the Century", playing the Tchaikovsky Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Makes sold-out Carnegie Hall début in April to great critical acclaim playing the Grieg Concerto with the Baltimore Symphony under Yuri Temirkanov. In June Lang Lang travels to Beijing with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Wolfgang Sawallisch for a tour celebrating the orchestra's 100th anniversary, during which he performs to an audience of 8000 at the Great Hall of the People. BBC Proms début in August, playing Rachmaninov's Third Concerto – The Times of London’s critic writes: "Lang Lang took a sold-out Albert Hall by storm…This could well be history in the making."
Recital débuts at London's Wigmore Hall, Washington's Kennedy Center and the Louvre in Paris. Makes his subscription-concert débuts with the New York Philharmonic and London Philharmonic, both with Christoph Eschenbach, under whose baton he also tours Europe with the NDR Symphony Orchestra of Hamburg. Performs with the NHK Symphony Orchestra under Charles Dutoit in concerts broadcast on NHK Television throughout Japan.
In July at the Schleswig-Holstein Festival he becomes the first recipient of the Leonard Bernstein Award in recognition of his exceptional musical talent. He is featured in a weeklong residency with five concerts at the Ravinia Festival, including two concerto performances with the Chicago Symphony, a solo recital, an evening of Schubert duos with Christoph Eschenbach, and a duo-recital featuring Chinese traditional music with his father, Guo-ren Lang, on the erhu (bowed fiddle).
Lang Lang joins the New York Philharmonic and Lorin Maazel for performances in New York, followed by a tour of Asia. Plays in concerts with the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall and on tour in the Midwest with Franz Welser-Möst. Other engagements include appearances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta, the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas, the Pittsburgh Symphony and Mariss Jansons, and the Philadelphia Orchestra and Wolfgang Sawallisch. His recitals take him across North America – from Anchorage, Alaska to Washington, D.C. – as well as to Europe and Asia.
Makes his first recording for Deutsche Grammophon in February: the Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn First Concertos, with Daniel Barenboim conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Tours China in August with concerts and recitals. Festival appearances include performing the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto at the opening concert of the BBC Proms with Leonard Slatkin at the Albert Hall, as well as Mostly Mozart (for the first time), Aspen, Tanglewood (with the Boston Symphony), Ravinia (with the Chicago Symphony), Saratoga (with the Philadelphia Orchestra), Blossom (with the Cleveland Orchestra), Verbier, Schleswig-Holstein and the Ruhr Piano Festival.
In November Lang Lang makes his triumphant Carnegie Hall recital début, which is recorded live by Deutsche Grammophon. During the course of the season, he plays this programme (Schumann, Haydn, Schubert, Tan Dun, Chopin, Liszt) all over the world.
His orchestral appearances include the Philadelphia (Eschenbach), Los Angeles Philharmonic (Marin Alsop), London Philharmonic (Vladimir Jurowski), Orchestre de Paris (Eschenbach), Israel Philharmonic (Frédéric Chaslin), Staatskapelle Berlin (Barenboim) and, in June, the closing-night concert of the Berliner Philharmoniker season, with Sir Simon Rattle at the Waldbühne.
Summer includes festival appearances in Ravinia and Verbier and a recording for Deutsche Grammophon of Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto and the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, with Valery Gergiev conducting. It will be released in 2005. Makes his recital débuts at the Berlin Philharmonie in Mai and a Coast-to-coast US recital tour in November.
Lang Lang at Carnegie Hall
Throughout its long and rich history New York's Carnegie Hall and great pianism have been synonymous. One looks back, for instance, on Arthur Rubinstein's 1961 ten-recital marathon, Rudolf Serkin's televised 75th birthday recital, Artur Schnabel's 1935 cycle of the complete Beethoven Sonatas (a tradition Alfred Brendel, Maurizio Pollini and Daniel Barenboim have carried on at the hall in recent seasons). Images of chilly fans waiting overnight in line to buy tickets for Vladimir Horowitz's historic return, or the unprecedented ovation greeting Martha Argerich's first solo appearance in more than 20 years still resonate with music lovers. Many of these occasions, of course, resulted in commercial recordings, including Lang Lang's Carnegie Hall recital debut on 7 November 2003.
We often define a debut in the sense of coming out into society, an introduction, a beginning, a first time. In the context of Carnegie Hall, however, the word takes on a different aspect, referring to a rite of passage or to embarking on the next phase of what one hopes will be a long artistic journey. Yet it's also important to notice from where the artist enters. Although Lang Lang had barely celebrated his 21st birthday at the time of this recording, his portfolio already boasts an impressive array of high-profile, international appearances. The pianist's star began to rise in 1999 when, after auditioning for a solo spot with the Chicago Symphony, he was invited that very week to substitute for an indisposed Andre Watts. History often repeats itself, for 35 years earlier the teenaged Watts had stepped in at the last minute to replace Glenn Gould with the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein. But, in fact, Lang Lang has rarely been out the public eye since early childhood.
Born in Shenyang in 1982, he began piano lessons at three and gave his first recital two years later. At nine Lang Lang entered the Central Music Conservatory in Beijing, where he studied with Professor Zhao Ping-Guo. As his talent blossomed and repertoire widened, he won first prize in the Fifth Xing Hai Cup Piano Competition in Beijing, first prize and "outstanding artistic performance" in the Fourth International Young Pianists Competition in Germany, and first prize at the Second Tchaikovsky International Young Musicians' Competition held in 1995. That same year he performed all the Chopin Etudes in a single program, and his reputation spread so rapidly that a Chinese-language biography appeared before his 17th birthday.
Given Lang Lang's swift and steady ascent, one can easily imagine the inevitable pressure on this young artist to deliver the goods in the face of increased scrutiny from colleagues and critics. As it happens, he handles the limelight with confidence and consummate grace. After walking onstage, he took plenty of time to greet a full, appreciative house, acknowledging choice seat and upper balcony patrons with equal consideration. He seemed unfazed by the barrage of dangling microphones and strategically placed state-of-the-art video cameras. Such a scenario would have been unthinkable for the microphone-shy Richter back in 1960. By contrast, Lang Lang (whose formative years parallel the information highway coming into its own) is genuinely excited about the DVD release of this concert, and all the "extras" it entails. Like Glenn Gould, he appears to treat the microphone not as an adversary but as a friend and ally. And with time allotted for post-concert retakes and inserts, if necessary, Lang Lang knows that he can play con amore, so to speak, and take chances.
But whereas Gould abandoned concerts for technology's sake, Lang Lang thrives on performing in public, and devotes much time and energy to developing younger audiences for classical music. Looking back on his recent return tour of China, he wrote: "When I give a concert it almost feels like a pop concert. The audience consists mainly of young people. There are a lot of kids, too, and they sometimes speak during the concert. Children find it hard to concentrate over long periods so they move around and talk, but I don't mind. Before the concerts I give press conferences, and after the concerts I do CD signings. They are usually so crowded that I need policemen to protect me. But I like the energy all around me, and the more young people get into classical music, the better."
Either by design or coincidence, Lang Lang's choice of music and mode of presentation both asserted his own 21st-century sensibility and paid homage to his pianistic precedents and mentors. His opening selection, Schumann's "Abegg" Variations, figured in Yevgeny Kissin's 1990 Carnegie debut, while Haydn's C major Sonata appeared twice during Sviatoslav Richter's celebrated five-concert Carnegie debut run in 1960. And it's not insignificant that Lang Lang closed the first half of his program with Schubert's "Wanderer" Fantasy, which was the very first work his teacher at the Curtis Institute, Gary Graffman, recorded back in 1955. Many pianists in Lang Lang's position might be inclined to declare independence from their teachers, but he disagrees: "If you don't have a teacher, your playing will get strange," he told writer David Patrick Stearns. "I get my own ideas, but that's not enough to be a great musician. I want to get better without getting strange. Mr. Graffman has taught me to bring ideas to the public - to bring the power out from the piano. That's very important. If you don't have the power, you don't have really beautiful music."
At the piano, Lang Lang's body language communicates as clearly as his words; one can infer the organic connection between his circular arm movements and the music. He usually takes his time before launching into each selection, with hands positioned above the keyboard as if preparing for a rigorous, concentrated session of Tai Chi. This accounts not only for the remarkable power and speed of his double notes and octaves (as you readily hear in Liszt's Réminiscences de Don Juan), but also the delicacy, nuance, control and ravishing tone colors he obtains in softer passages. These qualities particularly manifest themselves in Tan Dun's evocative, impressionistic Eight Memories in Watercolor, which were inspired by the folksongs and culture of the composer's early childhood, recalling an era when the violence of the Cultural Revolution was ebbing and Western music would no longer be banned. Lang Lang's sensitive, idiomatic performance, if nothing else, exemplifies the pianist's heartfelt affinity for his native country's artistic heritage. (Small wonder that for the concert's second half Lang Lang exchanged conventional concert tails for a traditional Chinese red shirt.)
Likewise, the encores are emblematic of Lang Lang's past, present and future. He brought out his father, Guo-ren Lang, a professional performer of the erhu, a traditional Chinese bowed instrument, for Two Horses, an erhu/piano duet that bristles with spirited, affectionate interplay. Schumann's evergreen Träumerei,of course, is forever associated with Vladimir Horowitz (Graffman's teacher and Lang Lang's "grandteacher"), but every pianist owns Liszt's Liebestraum no. 3, a work that is either overplayed or taken for granted. "Oh no, not again," I sighed, when Lang Lang launched into the opening measure. Yet within seconds my ears fell sway to the unforced, singing line, gently coaxed inner voices and delicately traced filigree. Moments like these are better experienced than described. Hear for yourself.