May 11, 2013 |
If a night at the orchestra were a pure investment-return transaction, Lang Lang certainly gave Thursday's audience its money's worth. It's when the actual music entered the equation that things got a little dicey. You had to look past a lot to hear it. At the front of Verizon Hall stage, with Simon Rattle leading the Philadelphia Orchestra, the pianist air-conducted or air-trilled with an idle hand when Beethoven failed to give him enough to do, mugged all manner of facial expressions, and kept leaning out to look at the audience, as if to ask: Do you like this?
March 18, 2008 |
As a breed, there's probably no group that more loudly pines for a restoration of individualism than classical music fans. Then along comes an individualist, and you can almost set your watch by the 3.8 seconds it takes before hearing the cries of artistic perfidy. You can't have it both ways, as Lang Lang reminded us Sunday night in Verizon Hall. Sure, his recital of Schubert, Bart?k, Debussy and Chopin was full of strangely mannered playing. But there's a trade-off: His ideas, all his own, are convincingly expressed.
November 25, 2004 |
No matter what you considered the delights and the horrors to be at Lang Lang's Tuesday recital at the Kimmel Center, one thing was certain: It was all bound to happen. Only four years ago, the China-born, Curtis Institute of Music-trained pianist was living in a one-bedroom apartment on Spruce Street with his parents and a Steinway piano, just a block from what is now the Kimmel Center. He has since become one of the best-selling classical pianists on the CD market, and on Tuesday, he was greeted by a full house at Verizon Hall.
July 13, 2007 |
No one in classical music is as hot as Lang Lang, the remarkable Chinese pianist whose procession from astounding prodigy to star during his years at Curtis Institute had Philadelphia audiences embracing him like a rock icon. While still studying with Gary Graffman at Curtis, he played the final Philadelphia Orchestra concert at the Academy of Music and early concerts with the orchestra in its new home, the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts. He even went on the orchestra's 2001 Asian tour, playing before his family and an audience of 8,000 at the Grand Hall of the People in Beijing - the thrill of a lifetime for a lad of 19. Lang's ability to learn large pieces and play them with a bravura flair stunned audiences.
February 26, 2009 |
If you shut your eyes at Tuesday's Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra concert at the Kimmel Center, your musical memories could have taken you to a darker, distant place and time, far from Vienna or Philadelphia - Lincoln Center in New York's messy early '80s. During the first three movements of Schubert's Symphony No. 9, I kept hearing the New York Philharmonic during that depressed era in its history. An unhappy time-travel experience, it was one whose common denominator, then and now, was Zubin Mehta.
May 13, 2002 |
Another Lang Lang debut, another triumph. In all other respects, nothing was predictable when the 19-year-old, China-born, Philadelphia-based pianist tore into Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 at his Thursday night debut with the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall. It was anything but a rerun of his Prokofiev performance in December with Wolfgang Sawallish and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Then, he played the often-spiky concerto interpreted through the elegant, orderly, coloristic lens of Ravel.
March 17, 2003 |
Most of what you need to know about Lang Lang came in a single note during an encore to his recital Friday night. The piece was "Stars and Stripes Forever. " And the note was the pickup to the more lyrical melodic section - you know, the quiet tune to which everyone likes to make up words. The pianist used that one note to send a message. He held it good and long, so long that it broke the momentum, like a tenor holding a high C. With it, he seemed to say, "I have just as big an influence here as the composer, and here's who I am. " The audience got it. Laughter rippled across the crowd.
October 22, 2011 |
If anybody needed convincing that Lang Lang isn't just a pianist with hot fingers, cool clothes, and lots of self-promotion, positive proof came in both concertos he played with the Philadelphia Orchestra this week at Verizon Hall. Played on Thursday, Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1 will also be heard by the masses at his Saturday concert and cinemacast with the orchestra, as well as at the Monday repeat screening. Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 2 was reserved for the live-only audience on Friday at the Kimmel Center and for Tuesday, when he and the orchestra play Carnegie Hall.
September 23, 2006 |
Opening nights at the Philadelphia Orchestra aren't concerts so much as demonstrations. They function to remind the city's movers and shakers why the orchestra is such a point of civic pride that it deserves so much financial care and feeding. To that end, the Thursday night event at the Kimmel Center can be called a mission thoroughly accomplished, though the real season began, for me, yesterday afternoon. While yesterday had Shostakovich's disturbing Symphony No. 5, Thursday's 80-minute, intermissionless program had Tchaikovsky's less-sticky Francesca da Rimini tone poem, in a painless classical-music encounter for non-symphonygoers.
June 9, 2007 |
The idea of pianist Lang Lang and conductor Riccardo Muti collaborating for the first time in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 boggles the mind with possibilities - the inspiration! the overkill! the flying hair! - even if you haven't followed the Philadelphia ups and downs of these two artists. The pairing all but guarantees full houses at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, where they've commandeered the New York Philharmonic through Tuesday. Considering how these rather different titans might clash, Thursday's open rehearsal promised to be as revealing as the performance.