LANG LANG Live at Carnegie Hall

Live at Carnegie Hall

Fréderic Chopin · Tan Dun
Joseph Haydn · Franz Liszt
Franz Schubert · Robert Schumann
Int. Release 02 Mar. 2004
2 CDs / Download
0289 474 8202 4
Deluxe Edition with Bonus DVD:
Recorded live at Carnegie Hall, New York

Track List

CD 1: Lang Lang - Live at Carnegie Hall


Robert Schumann (1810 - 1856)
Franz Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)
Piano Sonata in C Major, Hob. XVI:50



Franz Schubert (1797 - 1828)
Fantasy in C Major, Op. 15, D. 760 "Wanderer"




Tan Dun (1957 - )
Eight Memories in Watercolour, Op. 1





Frédéric Chopin (1810 - 1849)
Lang Lang

Total Playing Time 1:08:15

CD 2: Lang Lang - Live at Carnegie Hall

Franz Liszt (1811 - 1886)
Robert Schumann (1810 - 1856)
Kinderszenen, Op. 15


Lang Lang

Huang Hai Hwai, Chen Rao Xing, Shen Li Qun
Lang Lang, Lang Guo-ren

Franz Liszt (1811 - 1886)
Lang Lang

Total Playing Time 29:09

Chinese piano prodigy Lang Lang isn't going begging for an audience. His album "Live at Carnegie Hall" is one of Deutsche Grammophon's highest-profile releases this year . . .
Deutsche Grammophon has already been hard at work pushing this month's release from yet another of young star, Russian soprano Anna Netrebko, promoting her with photos and videos that breathe sex appeal and could turn her into the Norah Jones of opera.

In Chopin's Nocturne in D flat, a side of Lang Lang came to the fore in which mental concentration conspired with a command of the instrument to create an almost-tangible sonic energy field. Sviatoslav Richter had it, and put it at the service of daringly slow tempos and an almost frightening depth of expression. Lang Lang used it to spin out the sort of minutely shaded melodic line that piano connoisseurs live for.

He began with the "Abegg" Variations of Schumann, one of those youthful works in which Mr. Lang can exult, youthfully. His playing was dreamy, and then, at fast tempos, full of glee. He exuded a ton pf personality. And, admirably, he always brought out the melody, even amid the business of virtuosity. Mr. Lang's sense of fun in music is hard to resist . . . the young man's Schumann was deeply pleasurable . . . Mr. Lang's Haydn was very Romantic -- heavily pedaled, free with tempo, and extreme in dynamics -- but it was graceful and musical. To complete the first half of the recital was the "Wanderer" fantasy of Schubert. Mr. Lang tore into it like a lion into meat. This is a work of sweep and power, and Mr. Lang has those. Plus, he evidenced musical insight, going beyond the athleticism and exurberance now expected of him . . . He played "Eight Memories in Watercolor," composed in 1979 by Tan Dun. This is an impressionistic suite, and Mr. Lang rendered it that way. His playing was beautifully colored, with every note thoughtful and imaginative. It would be nice to hear this pianist in Debussy and Ravel . . . After the Dun came the D-flat-major Ncoturne of Chopin . . . In this work, Mr. Lang might have done his best playing of the night . . . This was real poetry and sensitivity . . . the audience went home in a state of happy exhaustion. Mr. Lang's label, Deutsche Grammophon, recorded this recital. They won't be sorry.

. . . utterly poised and confident, full of delicacy and ardor. . . An auspicious event, captured for posterity.

. . . Schubert rolls in like the waves of a salt sea: Everything feels fluid, rounded and arrived at as a natural consequence of what came before.

It's not just his ability to gallop around the keyboard. While he is doing that, and regardless of speed and complexity, he can balance the quietest and the loudest textures to a degree matched by a handful of pianists . . . His feel for timing, phrase and rhythm is impeccable.

. . . deeply musical and touching . . .

There is some really fine music making going on here, offering evidence of both a big technique and a big heart behind the flashing finger work . . . The range of repertoire here . . . is as impressive as the technical ease with which Lang Lang plays it all, sounding as fresh by the evening's end as he does at its opening. . . an artist with the potential to do great things.

There are those who say Lang Lang is the greatest pianist of his generation. Listen for yourself; they may well be right.

Lang Lang gives technically brilliant performances . . . this disc is a portrait of a promising young pianist . . .

. . . Lang Lang played with straightforward expressiveness . . . a recital worth hearing.

Brilliant . . . Lang Lang shows he has truly come of age in this astonishingly mature set of performances . . . Just stunning.

The joy that Lang Lang brings to his performances reminds me of the most lovable, communicative qualities of Vladimir Horowitz, who also takes his share of liberties with scores. Lang Lang's technique can dazzle . . .

Lang Lang wields a formidable technique with an assurance far beyond his years.

. . . an awesome new two-disc recording of the most spectacular recital I've ever seen.

The recording confirms the 21-year-old Chinese pianist's huge talent. Lang Lang gives a dramatic, many-faceted account of Schubert's great "Wanderer" Fantasy. His rendition of Liszt's "Reminiscenses of Don Juan" . . . explodes with spectacular pianism. Lang Lang apparently can play anything at any speed, and at any volume.

. . . this Chinese pinanist's solo disc "Live at Carnegie Hall" lives up to the hype. A fiery virtuoso, Lang blazes up and down the keyboard while remaining remarkably mindful of lyrical nuances.

Lang Lang plays with sensational cleanliness, often at outrageously high speeds, making even the opaque textures of Schumann's "Abegg Variations" glitter iridescently. His command in Liszt's demonic "Don Juan Fantasy" is jaw-dropping, his Haydn immaculate . . . Phenomenal playing . . .

Thrilling? Yes . . . he's extremely gifted.

Lang is an enormously gifted and vital young performer, and his immense popularity . . . can only boost appreciation of classical music . . . the virtue of the playing here [are]: the uncramped virtuosity (few performances of "Réminiscences de Don Juan" are quite so heedless of its technical dangers), the often stunning clarity of his textures and his passagework, the variety of his articulation, is astonishing), the sensual beauty of his tone (which pays high dividends in the more impressionistic panels in Tan Dun's folk-inspired series), and his interpretive daring, his willingness to play with the music. Lang is not, in other words, just another hotshot, and it's hard to imagine any music-lover who won't reap immeasurable pleasures from these discs: whether from the energetic bounce with which he launches the "Wanderer", the giddy wit of the third of the Schumann variations . . . , the searing glissandos in the "Réminiscences", or the cultured fluency of the seventh of the Tan Dun miniatures . . . the piano tones is conveyed well.

The highlight of the disc, by a mile, is Tan Dun's "Eight Memories in Watercolour". The pianist's engaged affection for these musical canvasses provides welcome respite and importance is paid to contrasts; showing what range of colour and tone can be achieved with 88 hammers.

Er setzt eine überwältigende Virtuosität ein. Er besitzt geradezu rasende Finger, außerdem ein Herz, das hochmusikalisch schlägt. In seinem Spiel verbinden sich Furor und Finesse, Demonstration und Poesie . . . Lang Lang bringt nicht nur die Werke, die er spielt, sondern auch seine Zuhörer zur Raserei. Er erspielt Unvergesslichkeit. Wann war das zum letzten Male der Fall? . . . Wie wird Lang Lang spielen, wenn er 60 ist?

Der chinesische Pianist Lang Lang ist ein großartiger Musikdarsteller . . . Das Gerundete, Geschlossene, Lyrische ist überhaupt Lang Langs besondere Stärke, seine Anschlagskunst gerät niemals zum Selbstzweck, sondern dient immer der musikalischen Gestalt . . . ein bemerkenswerter Musiker . . .

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.

Wunderkind ist ein strapazierter Begriff. Aber bei ihm muss man das Wort verwenden: Der chinesische Pianist Lang Lang war ein Wunderkind -- und wie der 22-Jährige heute spielt, das empfinden Publikum und Kritiker nach wie vor als Mirakel . . . Mit Schumann, Schubert, Liszt und Chopin zollte er den großen Meistern Tribut: dynamisch-hitzig und trotzdem kristallklar bis in winzigste Nuancen.

Der in China geborene Pianist Lang Lang hat für seine 22 Jahre eine geradezu märchenhafte Karriere hinter sich. Warum das so ist, lässt dieser Live-Mitschnitt von seinem Debüt an der Carnegie Hall erahnen, in dem neben "europäischer" etwa auch Musik von Tan Dun zu hören ist. Wer so viel kann, hat leicht poetisch sein!

Sein Spiel ist ausgereift und seine technische Virtuosität mitunter atemberaubend. Aber auch in puncto Ausdrucksstärke und gedanklicher Differenzierung glänzt der Chinese. Sei es sein stimmungsreiches Spiel bei den "Abegg Variationen" von Schumann zu Beginn, sein nuanciertes Spiel bei Haydns Sonate in C-Dur oder seine innige Auffassung von Liszts "Liebestraum" zum Schluss des Programms -- so wird klar, dass Lang Lang offensichtlich auf dem besten Weg ist, ein ganz Großer unter den Pianisten des 21. Jahrhunderts werden zu können.

Man staunt -- und erschrickt: Das, was da passiert, hat mit landläufigem Klavierspiel nicht viel zu tun . . . Der chinesische Wunderpianist Lang Lang könnte auch in himmlischem Manna rühren -- die Faszination, die von ihm ausgeht, wäre gewiss die gleiche . . . souverän und heiter und intensiv . . . staunenswert.

Ein grandios gemachtes [Carnegie-Hall-Debüt] . . .

Als Hoffnungsträger für den internationalen, speziell für den asiatischen und amerikanischen Markt, reist der junge chinesische Pianist Lang Lang zur Zeit durch
die Konzertsäle. Der Erfolg ist der Branche -- in diesem Fall der Deutschen Grammophon -- nicht weniger zu gönnen als dem pianistisch-manuell phänomenal begabten Star. Der knapp neun Monate alte Mitschnitt seines Carnegie Hall-Debüts mit abwechslungsreichem Programm gibt davon reichlich Zeugnis. Unerschöpflich ist seine rein physische Kraft, seine Zuverlässigkeit bei akrobatischen Anforderungen etwa im Finale der Lisztschen Don Juan-Fantasie, makellos seine Skalentechnik, seine Oktaven und seine Terzenfolgen in denkbar raschestem Zeitmaß.

Fast über Nacht war sein Name in aller Munde. Spätestens seit seinem Debüt vor zwei Jahren in der New Yorker Carnegie Hall rühmt die Musikwelt den 1982 in China geborenen Pianisten Lang Lang, preist seine Eleganz, sein technisch perfektes Spiel. Wer Lang Lang bislang nicht im Konzertsaal hören konnte, sollte unbedingt zu seiner New Yorker Debüt-CD greifen. Sie ist atemberaubend! Haydn, Schumann, Liszt oder auch ein Werk seines Landsmanns Tan Dun -- alles ist verblüffend souverän gespielt. Und hochmusikalisch dazu.

Con apenas veintidós años el pianist chino ha llegado a despertar comentarios como los del compositor Tan Dun, que ha afirmado de él que es un poeta con poderes mágicos. El 7 de noviembre de 2003 el joven música deslumbró al público del Carnegil Hall de Nueva York, con un un programa compuesto por Schumann, Schubert, Chopin, Liszt, Haydn y música china. Resulta dificil recordar un recital de semejantes características confiado a un intérprete tan joven, pero los resultados son más que sorprendentes. Dotado de una profunda vena romántica y una habilidad digital increíble, Lang aborda por igual y sin atragantarse, la "Fantasía del caminante" de Schubert, sin haberse tomado siquiera el respiro de la "Sonata Hob. XVI:50" de Haydn y cambiando brutalmente de registro a las seductoras "Eight Memories in Watercolour" de su ya citado compatriota, Tan Dun. Su "Nocturno op. 27 no. 2" de Chopin, en cambio, le sirve para demostrar que no sólo hay pirotecnia manual en su arte y desnuda la intrincada sensibilidad del polaco hasta reducirla a la expresión más nítida y sincera de la partitura.

Con esta nueva grabación discográfica Lang Lang se ha consagrado como uno de los grandes fenómenos del piano de las nuevas generaciones. ... Lang Lang es un pianista que es capaz de asombrar por sus proezas técnicas, por su alta velocidad, por adentrarse en una obra como las Reminiscencias de Don Juan de Mozart compuestas por Liszt con un derroche de técnica, de fuerza y de virtuosismo colosal, por saber transportarnos hacia la proporción del universo clásico de la Sonata en Do Mayor de Haydn con una calidad de timbres y de matices que nada tiene que envidiar a las grandes versiones legadas por los especialistas en el género o dejarnos realmente perplejos por la profundidad, por la manera de inmiscuirse en un mundo tan y tan complejo como el que Schubert plasmó en una de sus obras maestras como es la Fantasía Wanderer. Lang Lang se mueve a la perfección en todos los terrenos y con obras de Tan Dun, en las que la sensibilidad y el color oriental aparecen retratados de un modo ejemplar, o con una obra como Horses en la que cuenta con la colaboración de su padre Lang Guo-Ren como intérprete de erhu, deja por sentado que no solamente es la técnica ... lo que le convierte en un pianista singular sino la profunda musicalidad que alcanzan sus versiones. En este recital celebrado el 7 de noviembre de 2003 Lang Lang triunfa en todos los terrenos, pero es su gran sensibilidad la que personalmente nos ha dejado perplejos: su Sueño de amor de Liszt, su Rêverie de Schumann o el nocturno Op. 27, n° 2 -cuyo lirismo de la mano derecha aparece desgranado bajo una pulcritud y sensibilidad realmente mágicas- constituyen unos puntos dentro de la grabación que deben escucharse con detenimiento para descubrirnos ante uno de los pianistas que posee un futuro artístico más prometedor dentro de la gran competencia que se ejerce a nivel mundial.
    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.

1982 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.
1987 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.
1991 Enters the Central Music Conservatory in Beijing, where he studies with Professor Zhao Ping-Guo.
1995 Plays the complete Chopin Études in the Beijing Concert Hall.
1996 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.
1997 Begins studies with Gary Graffman at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, which he concludes in 2002.
1998 US début appearance, with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
1999Decisive 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.
2001 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.
2002 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.
2003Makes 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.
2004His 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.

Jed Distler