每日跟讀#658: Lang Lang Is Back: A Piano Superstar Grows Up
It was late one afternoon this spring, and Madison Square Garden’s 19,000 seats were empty as Billy Joel and Lang Lang began jamming onstage.
Pop’s piano man had invited the superstar classical pianist to make a guest appearance at his sold-out April show at the Garden, and they were rehearsing a duet of Joel’s “Root Beer Rag” during the soundcheck, taking it from fast to blisteringly fast.
Then they started goofing around. Suddenly they were trading riffs from Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto. They teamed up on some Bach. Finally, with Joel’s band looking on in surprise, the two launched into the thunderous opening of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1.
It was as good a sign as any that Lang — the world’s most famous, and bankable, concert pianist — still has his chops, after a career-threatening injury to his left arm in 2017 sidelined him for more than a year.
After rebuilding his strength and technique, he is returning in earnest this fall. He is again appearing with the world’s leading orchestras. He is again promoting a new album — his first in several years — as few other classical musicians can, with appearances on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Good Morning America.”
And he is again arousing the suspicion, if not outright hostility, of the classical field by applying lessons from the pop world to his career, trying to navigate a delicate balance between popularization and artistic integrity.
But he insists he is not the same man, or musician. Lang — who long maintained that his greatest fear was an injury that would leave him unable to play the piano, and therefore, as he once put it, “render me useless for life” — spent his forced sabbatical taking stock.
“I used the time,” Lang said in an interview, “to rethink everything I do.”
His health crisis hit at a pivotal moment. Lang, who recently turned 37, is at an age when he must navigate the next leg of the journey from wunderkind to mature — even veteran — artist. Such transitions are not easy, noted conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim, a mentor of Lang’s and a former child prodigy himself.
“Either the child goes and the prodigy remains," Barenboim said, “or the prodigy goes and the child remains.”
That Lang has taken the first course is evident to conductor Franz Welser-Möst, music director of the Cleveland Orchestra, who has known the pianist since Lang was a teenager.
“We all go through phases, and I think there was a time when success sort of started to have a negative influence on him,” Welser-Möst said. “Then he was out of the business for health reasons for quite some time, which was a shock for him.
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/343372/web/