New York Philharmonic's Opening Night Gala with Lang Lang

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

 Lang Lang performs at A Capitol Fourth 2015 Independence Day Concert dress rehearsals on July 3, 2015 in Washington, DC Lang Lang performs at the Independence Day Concert on July 3, 2015 in Washington, DC (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Capitol Concerts)

On Sept. 24, we brought you the New York Philharmonic's opening night gala concert, conducted by Alan Gilbert. The evening features the unabashedly exuberant pianist Lang Lang as the soloist in Grieg's Piano Concerto, as well as a performance of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony.

The concert is the orchestra's first in the newly renamed David Geffen Hall (formerly Avery Fisher Hall) at Lincoln Center, and its first with violinist Frank Huang as its new concertmaster (first violinist).

WQXR's Elliott Forrest and Annie Bergen co-host the broadcast.

Program:
Grieg: Piano Concerto
Beethoven: Symphony No. 7
Alan Gilbert, conductor
Lang Lang, pianist

Note: The archived broadcast audio includes some minor edits made by the Philharmonic.

Comments [7]

Leigh from VA

We watched the PBS broadcast of the concert. When Lang-Lang finished we were sitting motionless with our mouths hanging open, literally, a classic parody of disbelief I didn't know actually happened in real life. We were utterly amazed by his facial expressions, lingering hand gestures tracing invisible lines in the air and his distorting liberties with the musical phrasing. He exuded an eroticism that was uncomfortable to watch. As any actor knows the large gestures, facial and hands, that might play to the back row in a large auditorium are strange and distorted in camera close-ups. I don't know if it's a cultural thing, probably is to some degree, but he needs to rethink his presentation. There was an instant when he made eye contact with the conductor and probably got a reality check because his expression change remarkably, but he consciously turned away from the conductor and the orchestra and resumed his pandering to the audience. That's when I knew it was an act, a schtick. He was not the enthralled artist caught up in a musical rapture or reverie. He was an actor doing his thing, dragging along the conductor and orchestra like they were nameless backup at a burlesque show. Liberace, who knew how to play to the camera while tossing off the technical bravado, had a better and classier act. Lang-Lang should try Vegas. But even there he'd need to adopt a higher level of professionalism than he exhibited with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

Oct. 14 2015 04:15 PM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

Lang Lang is soooooo adorable. cute, cute, cute. what's gives with all the faces and affectations
Lang Lang is such a cute name for a BABY PANDA.

Sep. 25 2015 06:39 AM
Cookie-o from Greenwich, CT

I was very disappointed in Lang Lang's playing. I love the Grieg Piano Concerto, but Lang Lang was more interested in himself than the music. He obviously has technique, but he needs to mature.

Sep. 24 2015 08:28 PM
Sharon M from Fair Lawn, NJ

I congratulate segelnd from Kearny, NJ for being able to change his strongly-held opinion of Lang Lang. As another who was initially put off by Lang Lang's stage presence, I found the following useful in rethinking LL:
1)The distinguished pianist Martha Argerich played piano four hands (Schubert) with Lang Lang at the July 2007 Verbier Festival. Who am I to quibble with her taste in piano partners?
2)Sir Alfred Brendel writes that in his early years he was criticized for unpleasant grimacing while performing. Surprised to hear this, Brendel put a mirror next to his piano to see if this was in fact true. Finding that it was indeed so, he continued to practice with the mirror beside him until he was able to control his facial expressions while playing so that they stopped being a distraction for the audience. I wonder if LL ever heard this story?!

Sep. 24 2015 08:02 PM
The Truth from LES

Please, why are you broadcasting this concert and not tomorrow night's? I don't mean to sound ungrateful but that one is SO much more interesting, with Strauss's Ein Heldenleben and Salonen's LA Variations. I don't need to hear Lang Lang playing havoc with the Grieg Concerto of all pieces. And Beethoven 7 is way overdone too. I know it's a gala but that doesn't mean it's good radio!

Sep. 24 2015 06:55 PM
segelnd from Kearny, NJ

I was so against Lang Lang, too, for his father's stupid talking, his way too much show off, scaring playing. But that was bad impression from at least 3 years ago that affected me until last month, when I googled 'if ppl hate Lang Lang'. Surprisingly the results are all supportive for him. So it was definitely the moment I have to re-judge my feeling to him. I read, read, watched recent vids, read more comments, articles, just found out now Lang Lang has a real solid reputation among classical music world, and it's reasonable - this guy is no longer a kid, he put all his effort to improve even more, but play less 'physically emotional', anyway, how he performance physically doesn't matter anymore. His undoubtedly top 1 ranking suggested no one will compete with him, skills, comprehension, performance, translate, expression, blablabla... I just turned myself as an ignorant 'opponent' (which actually i don't deserve even to be an opponent for my low level in music) to one of his zealots. He is even no longer that aggressive bad looking guy, but a real professional. Actually it's so easy for him to either pretend or behave as a professional, due to his deep exploration and top skill. Well, excuse me for my English, for I am a Chinese, and I used to be, as many other Chinese are still now, his sadly silly opponent.

Sep. 24 2015 12:15 PM
JC from Brooklyn

Lang Lang is so utterly affected when playing...it is simply an undesirable method for me. There is Leif Ove Andesnes, Mitsuka Uchida, Evgeny Kissin, Angela Hewitt, Krystian Zimmerman, Olga Kern, and Radu Lupu that play with formidable technical proficiency and a much more palabale humanity. Sorry, but Lang Lang is very much a show-automaton. Thank you.

Sep. 24 2015 11:29 AM

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