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Pauline Lerner

Pauline in Lang Lang Land

May 15, 2007 at 7:51 AM

I just came back from another world where I spent several hours. Just as Alice was transported to another world by stepping Through the Looking Glass, I was transported to another world by clicking on this site. Then I followed more links, heard and saw more and more, and became ever more deeply entranced with the young Chinese pianist Lang Lang. He appeals to me in some of the same ways that Hilary Hahn does. He is a magnificent artist and a great teacher. He talks about the music he plays and how he relates to it personally much as Hilary Hahn does. They are both superstar musicians, and they both come across as honest, humble, down-to-earth people who love to share their musical insights with the listening public. Lang Lang shows some traits I associate with Chinese culture: He is humble and has a great deal of dignity and respect. Deutsche Grammophon has put lots of wonderful material on his website. There are separate pages for each of his releases (CDs and DVDs), and each page has audio clips, video clips, and promotional clips, in which Lang Lang talks about the music and plays some of it to demonstrate his points. For example, before recording his Rachmaninov CD, he traveled through Russia and experienced the vastness and sadness of the country. He saw the connection to Rachmaninov’s own depression and to the music he wrote. His Rachmaninov CD has the Second Piano Concerto and the Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini. That concerto has been played so often that it sometimes seems hackneyed, but Lang Lang imbued with new life and more beauty than I ever thought it had. His latest CD contains Beethoven Piano Concertos 1 and 4. He explained the story behind part of Concerto 4 that I was unaware of – the part with the conflict between the orchestra and the piano. I had not known that this told of the story of Orpheus pleading with the forces of the Underworld for the return of his wife. Lang Lang told the story and illustrated it by playing parts of the music. His playing was incredibly tender and prayerful at the start and deeply, softly tragic at the very end. Through my wanderings in Lang Lang Land, I became aware of his vast range of expression. I have his CD “Memory” with solo music by Mozart, Chopin, Schumann, and Liszt, and online I have heard some of his playing of traditional Chinese music in his CD Dragon Songs. Overall, I had an impression of him as a player of gentle music, and I wondered how he would play something as fiery as the Tchaikovsky Concerto, since I have a ticket to hear him play it it on Friday night. He has recorded it, and when I listened to clips online, I felt the boldness and excitement of it. There is one more very interesting bit of news: Lang Lang will celebrate the release of his new Beethoven album with an exclusive live concert on Second Life. He will be the first classical artist to perform an exclusive concert on this website. The concert will take place on Tuesday, May15 at 8 PM (CET), which is 6 PM (GMT) and 2 PM (EDT, my time zone). All this whets my appetite for hearing Lang Lang live in concert on Friday.

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