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Not forgotten

img  Tobias

It might seem an odd question, but do you still remember Lang Lang? While in 2005 we had the impression that his career was flourishing, dividing the scene into those that loved and those that hated him for his outstanding virtuosity, media attention has been flagging over the last couple of months - possibly a sign of exhaustion with a man who was as close to being omnipresent as one can possibly be as a Classical pianist. The same can be said about his personal homepage, with his last diary-entry dating back to early 2005. Is the world slowly forgetting about Lang Lang?

Not really. From the sparse and mostly extremely short online journal contributions, we had the feeling that this was more an idea of his record company (who pioneered this idea with Hillary Hahn's collected thoughts and stories) than of his own anyway. And then, despite his talk about transporting Classical Music into the next era, Lang Lang always felt most comfortable on stage. If there was a revolution he wanted to bring about, it is not going to happen on MTV. Instead, he travelled Europe a lot and helped organise one of New Year's Day's most extravagant events - an Asian special in Munich, featuring a German Symphonic Orchestra (the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Saarbrücken) and a total of about 100 musicians from China in a TV-broadcasted concert. As he already explained in an interview at the time of the release of his Rachmaninoff-CD, the focus on music from his home country will only increase in importance and means a lot to him.

If that is so, this idea has not yet manifested itself on his new album, out now on DGG. "Memory" goes all the way back to his childhood, to the tunes he learnt as a little boy and the pieces that he started to love in his infancy. Mozart's Piano Sonata K 330, for example, was the composition that brought him back on track - his piano teacher had destroyed his love for performing by telling him he had no talent whatsoever and should not go on learning to play the piano. It was only until he was asked by his class mates and his school's music teacher to play the Mozart again, that he knew he had to go on regardless. A bigger challenge, to him, was Chopin's third Piano Sonata, a track he has interpreted many times on the live circuit, but which he left to linger for recording until he truly felt ready: "I'm looking forward to recording this for the first time, and I'm thinking about what kind of sound I'd like to create for each movement. The third movement in particular needs tremendous thought and control. No matter how Romantic and how free the piece is, there must be tension there - not physical tension, but a holding together." Meanwhile, the motivation for Horowitz arrangement of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody was stems from a rather unusual source: " "I dreamed of playing this piece since I saw the amazing Tom and Jerry cartoon. Tom the cat is actually playing like Horowitz, with the flat fingered technique that he's so famous for!"

If we're correctly informed, this last piece comes on a standard bonus-CD, so you can expect almost two full CDs for the price of one. And there's more, as Lang Lang's homepage now features a video clip which sees him talk about his childhood in Beijing and how his parents decided to give up their well-paid jobs and moved to the capital into a tiny appartment without heating (imagine that in the cold Chinese winter!) to foster their son's career. As a nice extra, you'll get to see a nice homevideo with the boy trying to reach the pedals - would be a great contender for "America's funniest videos". It's an allround package, which should make sure that noone is going to forget Lang Lang this time around.

Homepage: Lang Lang
Homepage: Lang Lang at the "Memory" Microsite
Homepage: Lang Lang at DGG
Source: Lang Lang at Glaube Aktuell

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