Just in: Lang Lang joins Metallica

Just in: Lang Lang joins Metallica


norman lebrecht

January 19, 2017

Just when you thought the classical proselyte had run out of gimmicks, here he is on stage last night with middle-aged rockers Metallica.

And there’s more. Is this improv?


  • John Borstlap says:

    Brilliant how this piano player can find, time and again, embarrassing enterprises.

  • V.Lind says:

    I wasn’t around here then — if there was a Slipped Disc then — but is this how you spoke of Pavarotti and Friends? Domingo has also hung with some pop stars — one (surprisingly good) Christmas in Vienna concert features Michael Bolton, and he once (regrettably) duetted with John Denver on a song charming by the latter but far too slight for the power of Domingo’s voice.

    They may all be misguided, but I think that — aside from possibly taking some pleasure in a change from their day jobs — their intention is to bring an introduction to classical music to people who might not exert themselves to try it separately. To what extent it has succeeded is outside my knowledge, but Lang Lang is one of the few people who seems to be making the effort to reach his generation, with its absence of background in any classical tradition. And one of the few who can keep them from walking out.

    Perhaps he is no Martha Argerich, but he has more of a gift for outreach to the young rockers and pop fans, and perhaps that is what they need — not le plus ultra but someone who speaks their vernacular.

    • Ungeheuer says:

      Except that Martha Argerich is the genuine article and wouldn’t get caught dead whoring herself for these stupid outreach initiatives that, in the end, always fail to attract new audiences and such.

      • Andy says:

        Maybe he’s just doing it because he enjoys it?

      • V.Lind says:

        Do they always fail? I wonder. But as I said above, I do not KNOW. If you do, I would welcome the information.

        And why shouldn’t they enjoy it? I agree. Just as I do not see that being a great actor or singer or artist disenfranchises you from having, and offering, a political view (not saying a celebrity’s view has more weight, or should have, just that he/she does not check his civic rights at the door when picking up an Equity card) I do not see that being a classical musician need mean that you cannot commingle with those in other spheres of music. I have found the contempt for Renee Fleming, because she sings jazz, around here very distressing.

        Nothing wrong with discussing Lang Lang and others critically in terms of their musical merits. But we could do with a little less snobbery and elitism around here — it is not only deleterious to any hope of interesting young people in classical music but is a nasty trait in anyone, anywhere. Judgmental and mean rather than generous and welcoming.

        Much is explained in the aftermath of 2016.

        • John Borstlap says:

          There is nothing wrong with people, even young people, having fun, as long as they don’t bang each other on the head or take dangerous drugs. And it is quite human to want to relax from the pressures of high art by behaving like a chimp, after all, we descend from the apes. (Here, Sally wants to cut-in but I could not possibly reproduce what she has to say without being banned from this site. – Oh, now she says that while I may have such Darwinian ancestry, she does not, and thus would never attend a LL concert.)

  • Michael B. says:

    Having Lang Lang play with Metallica will not do anything to interest young people in classical music. The minority of young people who have the strength of character to depart from the ultra-conformist interests of their peers and give classical music a chance have very sensitive bull(*&^ detectors and will flee from such a marketing gimmick.; they will feel that they are being patronized and condescended to.

    • David Osborne says:

      Yes, but… oh dear, no. First of all (although this is hardly the main issue), Metallica’s heyday was in the early 90s and they had been around for at least 10 years before that. The members are in their early to mid 50s, so I don’t think you can say this is about appealing to young people. They are part of one tiny branch of the vast delta that is contemporary popular music, the best of which is in fact quite wonderful.

      But goodness me, if you really want to see conformity in young people, take a look at any one of the thousands of clips on YouTube of today’s classical music youth, staring ashen faced at the page as they dutifully reproduce ‘sound art’ that conforms to the rigid, joyless and anti-creative ideas invented by their war damaged grandparent’s and great grandparent’s generations.

  • David Osborne says:

    Australian composer Matthew Hindson- who is highly regarded internationally, has written a work entitled ‘Homage to Metallica’. They are by no means a light weight pop band. I really sometimes wish some of you slipped dics got out more…

  • William Safford says:

    There is a term for what Lang Lang is doing. It’s called “sitting in with the band.” I don’t know offhand how often Metallica has someone sit in with them, but it’s quite routine in rock and jazz milieus in general.