Which musician is more famous than the Beatles today, and even Adidas named a shoe after him? Surprise, it’s Lang Lang, the classical pianist from China. Lang Lang is a rare classical musician who has a rock star celebrity recognition around the world.
We went to Nashville this weekend to see Lang Lang play Beethoven’s piano concerto No. 3 with the Nashville Symphony. The concert was completely sold out. There were a lot of children at the concert. Perhaps as much as ten percent of the audience were children. Even among adults, the average age was also significantly younger than a typical audience for a classical music concert.
Lang Lang had a spiky hair, and looked even younger than his 27 years of age. His performance was flashy and accompanied by exaggerated body gestures. In the middle of the concerto, I noticed myself tapping the beat with my foot, and heard the tapping sound. So I stopped, feeling embarrassed. But the tapping sound did not stop. After looking around, I finally realized that Lang Lang was tapping with his left foot. He was tapping so hard that it could be heard over the piano and the orchestra. Most of the audience probably didn’t mind. They probably loved it.
I had heard this concerto many times in the past. But this one was very different. In fact, it didn’t sound like Beethoven at all. Beethoven was the grandmaster of classical music. His music is supposed to be forceful, grandiose, and sometimes angry. It is supposed to be serious. Lang Lang completely changed it. He made it joyful, happy. He made Beethoven sound like Mozart. No, Mozart was not romantic. It’s like he has turned the official history of the Three States period into the novel “The Romance of Three Kingdoms.”
Whether you like his treatment of Beethoven or not, you would at least be dazzled by the display of his skills. In Lang Lang, there is no subtlety.
Here are a couple of articles about Lang Lang: