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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Lang Lang

Maria and I were invited to attend Lang Lang's concert with Taipei Symphony Orchestra at Taipei Dome. It was unfortunate the concert had to be held at a sports arena instead of a concert hall, because the music had to be amplified and the acoustics simply left much to be desired.

The same can be said of Lang's outfit. He wore a slightly shiny, black tuxedo-like outfit. The jacket has shawl collars with white trim, which continues down the side seams of the pants. I don't understand why today's classical musicians, especially conductors and soloists, can't just wear normal tuxedos with tails, which never go out of style.

As for the concert I was a bit disappointed with the program. In the first half, Lang played the Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin. I like the piece except I can no longer disassociate the piece from United Airlines. Lang probably cannot either since he made a commercial for United Airlines with Herbie Hancock last year. In any event, I don't feel classical-jazz improvisation is Lang's strong suit.

After the intermission, Lang played Chopin's Opus 22. He finished the concert with Yellow River Concerto. I thought he would be tired of playing this piece since he plays it constantly in front of Chinese audiences. I would have preferred to listen to something like Sergei Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2, the piece he is planning to play later this month in Berlin.

Lang played two more pieces, both by Chopin, as encore to end the concert: Op. 10 No. 3 and Op. 25 No. 1. There is no question that Lang is an extremely talented pianist. He also seems to be a charismatic person, very much at ease with the spotlight, and has a desire to connect with the audience. However his interpretation or style of play simply doesn't suit my taste. This was clearly illustrated by the two encore pieces. Besides his gyrations and expressions, he likes to drag out the notes and play the pieces much slower than my liking. For me there is a bit of unnecessary indulgence. While I admire his prodigious talent, I have to respectfully disagree with his approach.

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