For more than half of his 32 years, Lang Lang has been in the spotlight, as an international star and arguably the most crowd-pleasing classical pianist on the planet. From venues as diverse as the Beijing Olympics and Brazil's World Cup to New York's Central Park and Stockholm's Nobel Prizes, Lang Lang routinely crisscrosses the globe playing to innumerable masses. Last month he filled London's cavernous Royal Albert Hall two nights in a row.
Thursday, May 14th, the charismatic pianist lands at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to perform a concert at 8 p.m. ET. The performance will be webcast by the Met Museum and NPR Music, and viewable on this page.
Lang Lang's appearance is tied to the opening of the Met's new exhibition China: Through the Looking Glass, an exploration of how Chinese aesthetics have influenced Western fashion. The exhibition was organized, in conjunction with the museum's department of Asian Art, by The Costume Institute, which held its popular gala last week. The party is a magnet for celebrities and flamboyant fashions, ranging this year from Rihanna's voluminous fabric to Beyonce's, well,lack thereof.
A snappy dresser himself, Lang Lang has been cited in the past for having a little too much glitz at the keyboard. But in recent years critics have noticed he seems to be settling into what might be called a more mature style. For this Met Museum performance, there are no explosive Vladimir Horowitz transcriptions or thundering Rachmaninov sonatas. Instead, the focus is onThe Seasons, a lesser known cycle of 12 short pieces by Tchaikovsky, one for each month of the year.
If the technical demands are on the lighter side, especially for a pianist of Lang Lang's virtuosity, the trick is infusing personality into each individual snapshot. A more daunting task will be tackling the physical and interpretive challenges in the first and third of Chopin's scherzos. But the music should be firmly under Lang Lang's fingers. He's planning to release an album of the Tchaikovsky-Chopin pairing this fall.