By Laura Carlo | Tuesday, October 12, 2010
There are so many exceptional young pianists right now that if you are as big a piano fan as I am it’s like an avalanche of riches. Their training is top-notch and maybe that’s part of the problem. There are so many, so good in their own ways, and yet what makes one stand out above another. Well, one pianist has captured my attention lately, not just for his performance ability but also for his heartfelt commitment to young children wanting to study piano. World-renowned pianist Lang Lang released a CD in late August of his concert recorded and filmed “live” in Vienna’s legendary Musikverein concert hall.
I’ve already played a cut for you from this CD... but it occurred to me that since it was released in the summer when so many folks are still away enjoying the last bits of vacation time you might not have heard about it. The concert program and resulting CD features Lang Lang’s first-ever recording of two Beethoven sonatas, the Appassionata and the youthful Sonata Op. 2 No. 3, plus impressionistic music by Isaac Albeniz (Book 1 of Iberia) and finally, to help celebrate the Chopin Bicentennial, three of his most popular pieces. Born in China Lang Lang began playing the piano at age 3 and had already won the Shenyang Competition and given his first recital by 5. He shot to world-wide fame at 17 when he triumphed in the Tchaikovsky Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the “Gala of the Century.” He was listed by TIME magazine in 2009 among the “100 Most Influential People in the World,” played at the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and has even founded the “Lang Lang International Music Foundation” with the aim of identifying and supporting exceptionally gifted students between the ages of 6 and 10. (See a video here.) Ever since he shot to fame China has been in the grip of a piano-learning frenzy known as the “Lang Lang Effect” and Steinway has recognized his popularity with children by creating five versions of the “Lang Lang Steinway,” designed for early music education. In recognition of his commitment to young people he was made a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF in 2004. Now 28, Lang Lang has played sold-out recitals all around the world and this year and into next he is touring with the new album’s program. His official website, www.langlang.com, only lists concerts through December...and none of them mention Boston, but if you don’t yet have plans for New Year’s Eve he’ll be at Avery Fisher Hall in NYC. Listen this morning for more music from “Lang Lang Live in Vienna....”