Lang Lang plays Chopin with an orange (new video)

Lang Lang plays Chopin with an orange (new video)


norman lebrecht

March 13, 2016

He says Daniel Barenboim showed him how to do this one morning at his house over breakfast.

Lang Lang gave the demonstration on the Swedish-Norwegian TV show “Skavlan” in a long interview. He talks about Daniel Barenboim, his parents and his girlfriend and goes on to play a rather hesitant and unidiomatic tribute to George Martin.

Watch the first half of the interview here. The full thing here.

lang lang hands


  • Olassus says:

    Barenboim and Lang — always after publicity!

    • V.Lind says:

      Some people might consider publicity to contribute to accessibility — classical music has a better chance of growing an audience if people have actually seen and heard of artists in places they usually haunt, rather than their sticking to the concert halls, which so many people do not. (Or Radio 3).

  • Jonathan says:

    Lang Lang plays Chopin with an orange! Wow! Great for a circus act, but of no musical interest whatsoever.

    He might also try playing the same piece while using a vibrator, which may actually have a positive influence on his usual superficial and vapid music making.

  • John Borstlap says:

    The trick stems originally from Nicolas Slonimsky.

    • Rob McAlear says:

      I saw Slonimsky do this on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson decades ago. Carson and the audience were underwhelmed.

    • Matthew B. Tepper says:

      And I saw Slonimsky do this in person when he came to speak at San Francisco State University in the mid-1970s.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    Just curious, is it common now for talk shows in non-English-speaking European countries to be conducted in English?

    • flip the frog says:

      Only when interviewing guests who speak English

    • MWnyc says:

      In some countries, I think the answer is yes – when the interview subject doesn’t speak the country’s language and most of the country’s people have studied English in school, as is the case in Norway and Sweden.

      I often listen online to concerts on Netherlands Radio 4, and non-Dutch-speaking musicians are interviewed in English as a matter of course, with the announcer giving a synopsis of longer answers after the subject has finished speaking. (I’ve heard Dutch announcers do this in French and German as well, though far less often.)

      I’ve very occasionally heard this on German stations as well, though more often the interview is done in advance and the German translation is broadcast over the subject’s answer in English (which is played softly underneath).

      The latter is what I always encounter on Radio France Musique and Spain’s Radio Clásica.

      • V.Lind says:

        Sure — as anyone who watches the Scandicrime series that now flood our airwaves will have seen, characters seamlessly switch to usually excellent English whenever there are non-Swedes or non-Danes or whatever in the conversation.

      • Brian says:

        Here’s a fascinating chart showing which countries speak the best English as a second language – Nordic countries and the Netherlands lead the pack. (Perhaps not surprisingly, France didn’t even make the list.)

        • V.Lind says:

          But I have seen programmes such as 7 Sur 7 and other interview shows do interviews in English when the guest does not speak French.

          I wonder how the percentage of French people speaking English compares to the number of British speaking French?

          • Brian says:

            Good points. It goes to the question of whether French is taught widely in English schools. It’s probably still taught in the U.S. but people here don’t place a lot of value on learning a second language in general. With English the global language of business, government and tourism, it’s expected people will use the lingua franca. Plus, we’re lazy.

            Of course, it’s easy to tease the French, but then again, they do have the more innately beautiful language IMO.

        • Marc-Antoine Hamet says:

          After checking the original ranking (, the good news is that France is 37th out of the 70 countries rated, which is better than Russia, China and Brazil!!
          On top of that French is a beautiful language, so English speakers should take notice!

    • Bo says:

      Yes, and some of our French participants here should take notice

  • Hugh Jorgan says:

    Wei Tu Lo – Sum Ting Wong.

  • Eddie Mars says:

    Surely it should have been a mandarin?

  • Gary says:

    Didn’t Chico Marx do this a long time ago?