In celebration of 100 years of The Walt Disney Company, globally acclaimed piano virtuoso Lang Lang is set to transport listeners into the magical world of snow castles and flying carpets with his latest album, The Disney Book.
This enchanting musical journey through iconic movie melodies, reimagined in new versions written especially for him by some of the world’s leading arrangers, invites fans of all ages to enjoy classical music through Lang Lang’s unique interpretations. The recording will be released on 16 September on Deutsche Grammophon, in collaboration with Disney Music Group.
A truly international production, with recording sessions taking place in London, New York, Shanghai and Paris, The Disney Book traces the history of music in Disney films from the 1920s to the present day, whilst also reflecting Lang Lang’s own personal journey. Lang Lang explains: “Animation sparked my imagination and transported me to other worlds. The music was a big part of this experience – and led to my life-long love of classical music. There is such a variety of styles in Disney songs; truly, something to inspire everyone. I hope that people of all ages will enjoy this recording and experience the joy that we all felt the first time we saw a Disney film.”
The album’s first single, released today, is “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppins – which Walt Disney himself famously declared to be his favourite Disney melody. The film’s co-composers, brothers Richard and Robert Sherman, were regularly asked to join Walt in his office on a Friday afternoon to play it for him; they even continued this tradition after the legendary animator’s death in 1966. Lang Lang’s own version of “Feed the Birds” features an accompanying video, shot as dawn broke over Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park in California.
Lang Lang has long been inspired by Disney music. He says, “When I was thirteen, I visited Tokyo Disneyland; it was the first time I had heard ‘It’s a Small World’ and the melody stayed with me all day – and long afterwards.” Fast forward to 2016 and he was performing at the grand opening of Shanghai Disney Resort with a unique rendition of “Let It Go” from Frozen.
The Disney Book features joyous new versions of songs from Pinocchio and The Jungle Book to Frozen and Encanto, along with several collaborators from across the globe. Andrea Bocelli provides vocals for “You’ll Be in My Heart” from Tarzan; singer-songwriter and pianist Jon Batiste revisits his Oscar®-winning Soul score with “It’s All Right”; andColombian singer-songwriter Sebastián Yatra performs the Oscar-nominated song “Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto. There are also guest appearances from guitarist Miloš, Chinese erhu player Guo Gan, and Lang Lang’s wife Gina Alice, plus the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Robert Ziegler.
In order to showcase the range and versatility of the piano, Lang Lang enlisted some of the world’s top arrangers including Sir Stephen Hough,Natalie Tenenbaum and Randy Kerber. Whilst maintaining the essence of the melodies, the imaginative and sophisticated arrangements – whether for solo piano or piano and full orchestra – conjure the sound worlds of Debussy and Chopin, as well as the virtuosity of Liszt and Horowitz. Sir Stephen Hough comments:“I’ve been a huge admirer of Lang Lang for years and I was delighted to be asked to arrange some Disney songs for him. I loved the challenge of transforming these popular songs, beloved by generations of children and parents, into solo piano pieces, rooted in the classical tradition of the great transcribers of the past.”
The Disney Book is a continuation of Lang Lang’s unbridled commitment to music education. Much like his hugely successful 2019 album Piano Book, which brought together some of Lang Lang’s favourite pieces as a way to encourage budding young musicians, The Disney Book aims to inspire people of all ages to explore classical music. It is a heartfelt gift to all generations and especially meaningful to Lang Lang, having recently become a father himself.
Lang Lang’s The Disney Book tells the story of a century of magical, uplifting entertainment for all. The album will be available in all digital formats as well as a number of physical versions including standard, deluxe and limited editions. It will also be accompanied by a number of live dates at major international venues including the UK and US.