Lang Lang played last evening in Philadelphia (where he's lived the last ten years, having attended the Curtis Institute before launching his worldwide music career) at the Kimmel Center. At the age of 23 he has four cds out (and another 2 cds from Telarc) with one of the most revered classical labels (Deutsche Grammophon) and is one of the rising "super stars" of classical music. He's even got a rival, Yundi-Li!
Whether or not Lang Lang puts on a show with extra movements oh his hands, head or body - what comes out is phenomenal music making. The recital began with Mozart, a charming interpretation of the middle B-flat major sonata, K. 333.
Continuing with the major feat of the evening in my opinion with Schumann's C major Fantasy, Opus 17. Lang Lang's performance was stunning, spot on and a wonderful statement of his growing pianistic powers.
The rest of the program, after the long (sorry no bad jokes here about names or time) intermission was mixed - a lukewarm Granados Goyesca, a stunning set of Traditional Chinese works - complete with words (in somewhat broken English) from Lang Lang explaining them, even though what he mentioned was IN the program notes he supplied (which were great notes!!!), and some Liszt. These Liszt works were astounding as well. There is something quite powerful, no...shocking? about hearing Tristan and Isolde with just one piano.Wagner condensed to ten fingers from the large orchestra - something Liszt did so well - and Lang Lang did alright - he is wonderful to share it with his audience!
The Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6 that he was playing again after learning it 12 years ago (yes, at age 11) according to his program notes, was spectacular. Most of the audience was on their feet - I was suprised to see others not garnering the overused standing ovation - but after three curtain calls, he obliged with an encore.
As for the question in the title of this entry, Focused, or staged, brilliance? I don't care if Lang Lang makes gestures on stage with his playing, or speaks perfect english when signing cds afterwards - while having a more "stereotypical" accent on stage - as long as he produces such great sounds and music. Which he did to a wonderful extent - a night to remember at Kimmel.