No sooner had I broken the Chinese pianist’s label switch on Bloomberg than Google flashed up his new deal with Bombardier, makers of Lear jets as its brand ambassador for 2010. ‘Flying on Bombardier business jets allows me to reach audiences worldwide faster, well-rested and focussed,’ explained Lang Lang. So I guess we won’t be bumping into him again in the Easyjet departure lounge.
Before these coups, Lang Lang was in Davos last week, lecturing world and business leaders on ‘enrichment through music’. The Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger thought he had ‘nothing very much to say’. More likely there was nothing much he wanted to say as brand Lang Lang builds its global reach. The pity of it was the his presence at Davos rather eclipsed that of Gabriela Montero, the Venezuelan wonder whose improvisatory pianism presented a real lesson for world leaders on how to play their way out of recession.
So what’s driving Lang Lang? Setting aside 21st century greed-is-good theology, people who know him well tell me he wants to be taken seriously. At DG, he did not feel that top brass gave him the respect they showed to Argerich, Pollini and Zimmerman – unsurprising, given the length and depth of their achievements, but Lang Lang at 27 is a man in a hurry to be top pianist. At Sony he will find little competition, except from the semi-retired Murray Perahia.
The refreshing aspect of Lang Lang is that he has no hidden agenda. Next time I see him, if I ask him what went down at DG, he’ll be open, frank and engagingly undiplomatic. Buttoned-up Sony, who are refusing to comment on the deal, should be aware that their new catch is dynamite in more ways than they perhaps anticipated.