Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lang Lang Live!

Even though I took piano lessons and enjoy piano accompaniment, I had not really wandered into the territory of classical piano performers until Lang Lang.  I am completely enthralled by his rock star style - he's hot, hip and plays the piano like nobody's business.   I started following him on Twitter - I love that he's excited about sharing his success, sharing news about the world and connecting with his fans.   He's a dynamic young performer and is using his success as a commitment to world change - he's a Goodwill Ambassador for Unicef and often tweets about Unicef news.  Although he's brilliant at classical music, he obviously can get away with playing almost anything - I'm still loving that performance he gave at the Capital Fourth on PBS where he just kept going faster and faster on the "Stars and Stripes Forever" (I love a show off!) and of course, I was one of over 5,000,000 who saw him perform at the Beijing Olympics. 

Recently I received a review copy of Lang Lang's newest album, Live in Vienna,  from Sony Classical and I'm loving it!  It's a two cd set and was recorded live at the Musikverein Concert Hall in Vienna.   They sound so amazing on my iPod that it's almost unbelievable that it's recorded live.  It includes some amazing pieces by Beethoven, Albéniz, Prokofiev and Chopin.  I was unfamiliar with any of these pieces and find them consuming and exhilerating.  

The first CD is entirely Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 3 in C Major, Op. 2 and Piano Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata."  It's Lang Lang's first recording of these sonatas. 

The second CD is of the composers Albéniz, Prokofiev and Chopin: Albeniz's Iberia, Book I; Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No. 7 in B Flat Major, Op. 83; and three from Chopin - Etude Op. 25, No. 1 in A-Flat Major, Pononaise No. 6 in A-Flat Major, Op. 53 "Heroic" and Grande Valse Brillante No. 2 in A-Flat Major, Op. 34 No. 1. 

To listen to these pieces is a simple joy.  It's like taking refreshing and cool drink, yet, at times, the intensity is transportive and melting.  All of them sparkle under Lang Lang's fingers.  His touch of the keys is so light that my sense of hearing feels caressed.   My favorite track is the Beethoven Allegro con brio - it sounds like fairy angels dancing across the keys of the pianos.  I also love the Prokofiev - he flies on these pieces!

The concert was also visually recorded live for DVD and Blueray - I haven't seen it yet, but I can imagine that it would absolutely fly me straight into the Musikverein on that thrilling night.  The Blueray even includes 3-D footage! 

Lang Lang is on a U.S. tour right now: September 22 – Newark, NJ – Prudential Hall; September 25 – Washington D.C. – John F. Kennedy Center Concert Hall; September 29 – NYC – Carnegie Hall;
December 31 – NYC – Avery Fisher Hall.     December 31st will be the New York Philharmonic's traditional New Year's Eve Concert broadcast on Live from Lincoln Center on PBS.
I'll be one of the lucky audience members this Saturday the 25th when Lang Lang and Renée Fleming are under the direction of Maestro Christoph Eschenbach opening the National Symphony Orchestra's season at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.  

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