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Lang Lang

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NEWS
March 18, 2008 | By Peter Dobrin INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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.
NEWS
November 25, 2004 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
July 13, 2007 | By TOM DI NARDO For the Daily News
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.
NEWS
February 26, 2009 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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.
NEWS
May 13, 2002 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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.
NEWS
March 17, 2003 | By Peter Dobrin INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 22, 2011 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
September 23, 2006 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
June 9, 2007 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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.
NEWS
April 30, 2001 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
Artistic brinkmanship is hardly expected or advisable at a Carnegie Hall debut. The Curtis Institute of Music's latest candidate for classical-music stardom, 18-year-old Chinese pianist Lang Lang, took such chances in his Thursday performance with the excellent Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and there was no predicting what the audience would make of this hyper-expressive teenager. The tuneful but still somewhat unfashionable Grieg Piano Concerto became Lang Lang's personal inner monologue, with each phrase stretched toward the breaking point to make more exclamatory, declamatory musical statements than I ever expected to hear outside of a 78-r.
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ENTERTAINMENT
August 19, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Philadelphia Orchestra associate conductors are like U.S. vice presidents: They have huge exposure, a bit of dirty work to do, and ascend to the boss' job only in dire circumstances. Nonetheless, Philadelphia's Cristian Macelaru (once associate conductor - new title, "conductor-in-residence") is making a more-than-vice-presidential career for himself. Last weekend, it landed him, on his own artistic steam, at New York's Mostly Mozart Festival, which gives significant platforms to conductors consolidating major careers, including the likes of Osmo Vänskä, Edward Gardner, and Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 25, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Though choice of soloists is often an important component of Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia's sense of alternative symphonic experiences, previously unknown guest conducting talents can feel like an even more welcoming ambush. Sunday's headliner at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater ostensibly was Sean Chen, a young pianist who has placed well in competitions (the Van Cliburn, for one) and is a nominee for a 2015 Leonore Annenberg arts fellowship award at Penn. But the concert started with Haydn's little-known overture to the opera Armida , conducted by the lesser-known Nir Kabaretti with a solidity not heard consistently since Ignat Solzhenitsyn's departure and, more than that, a distinctive, glistening personality.
NEWS
September 29, 2014 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
This year, the Philadelphia Orchestra's official opening night - the one that lets you mingle with the maestro at an "exclusive" reception topping out at $2,500 per ticket - doesn't come until a couple of weeks into the season. Actual music-making, though, began in Verizon Hall on Friday night, with no less a gala soloist than Lang Lang. Many listeners in these parts still think of the pianist as an aberrantly eccentric Curtis Institute of Music student, and, for better or worse, in the last decade and a half of his working with every major orchestra and conductor on earth, absolutely nothing has rubbed off on him musically.
ENTERTAINMENT
September 24, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
NEW YORK - Have so many important people ever come so far for only 17 minutes of music? The Philadelphia Orchestra traveled two hours to the United Nations world headquarters here, where the 69th session of the General Assembly broke for a gala dinner Monday that featured orchestra members and the Philadelphia Singers Chorale performing Ode to Humanity by Chinese composer Wang Ning. Music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin arrived from Montreal to conduct. "The work we do in China is so unique," he said of the orchestra, "but it's hard to understand unless you've been there.
NEWS
February 3, 2014 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
This evening about 6:30 in East Rutherford, N.J., a soprano from the Metropolitan Opera will join the NFL. Televised to more than 100 million listeners, she will sail "The Star-Spangled Banner" aloft with operatic vibrato, and by Monday morning all of America will be so stirred by her voice that apps will collapse under the strain of the sudden demand for Verdi and Wagner. Scratch that. Authorities have charged a pair of New Jersey Metallica fans with organizing a massive classical-music ticket-scalping scheme after hearing pianist Lang Lang rocking out with the heavy metal band on last Sunday's Grammy broadcast.
NEWS
October 7, 2013 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
When Gary Graffman was director of the Curtis Institute of Music, he used to tell students that the recorded legacy was a distortion. The act of saving some recordings and discarding others - the natural selection of that business - means that all available evidence is not necessarily an accurate portrait of the artist. That might not apply in Graffman's own case. On his 85th birthday, he is getting a gift from Sony Classical: a 24-CD boxed set of recordings from the 1950s on. I can't say for sure, not having been alive during the late-mid-century shank of Graffman's career, but based on his performances during the last 25 years, it seems the pianist you hear in these testaments - Rachmaninoff from 1964, Schubert from 1956 - is unshakably true to form.
ENTERTAINMENT
May 11, 2013 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
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?
NEWS
October 28, 2012 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
  No psychedelic rays are emanating from his hands. He's not even trussed up in the latest Berlin fashions. The cover of his newest disc, The Chopin Album , is plainly, simply him. No one has ever accused Lang Lang of playing too many notes. But you could easily criticize him for wearing too many clothes. The Chopin Album (Sony Classical ***1/2) telegraphs, from a marketing standpoint, what many have known all along: For all of Lang Lang's outward excesses, he's a serious pianist and one who increasingly has adult depths, borne out by his music-making in this first all-Chopin disc of solo piano music that stands well among several recent Chopin releases, even eclipsing the eminent Maurizio Pollini.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 2, 2012
Conan (11 p.m., TBS) - Ashley Greene; comedian Hari Kondabolu. Late Show With David Letterman (11:35 p.m., CBS3) - Actor Martin Short; actress Kat Dennings. The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (11:35 p.m., NBC10) - Carol Burnett; Armie Hammer; Lang Lang and Students perform. Jimmy Kimmel Live (midnight, 6ABC) - Ty Burrell; Dancing With the Stars ; Psy performs.
NEWS
August 31, 2012 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Time and again in the summer months, you hear classical music concerts discussed with an air of impending defeat. We're powerless over the weather, say management types behind the scenes. The Mann Center sweltered this summer. In chilly Vail, the Philadelphia Orchestra's Brahms Symphony No. 4 had to be halted minutes after it began due to pelting rain. The Berlin Philharmonic was drowned out by rain this summer in one of its few outdoor outings. And with picnicing audiences, how much listening really goes on?
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