What a piano star does when he’s laid off for two years

What a piano star does when he’s laid off for two years


norman lebrecht

January 18, 2019

It looks like Lang Lang has gone back to his five easy pieces during his injury time.

From DG:

One of the world’s biggest classical stars, Lang Lang, returns with his brand new solo album ‘Piano Book’ – a collection of pieces which first inspired him to play the piano and led him on his path to international stardom. The recording, his first new studio album in three years, marks his return to Universal Music Group and Deutsche Grammophon – the label he first signed to in 2003.

Lang Lang says: “I want to take every music lover on a journey through my favourite piano pieces. I hope to inspire as well as motivate every piano student to remain focused during daily practice, and to play and understand these essential pieces for what they really are: true masterpieces!”

‘Piano Book’ gathers together many of the miniatures that generations of amateur pianists have grown up with. Lang Lang holds them in the highest regard, believing them to be classics in their own right. He wants to encourage piano students across the world to fully appreciate them.

As well as works by the great composers – such as Beethoven’s Für Elise, Debussy’s Clair de lune and J.S. Bach’s Prelude in C Major from The Well-Tempered Clavier – Lang Lang has included some modern classics that are familiar from TV and movies like Yann Tiersen’s La valse d’Amélie, Max Richter’s The Departure and Ryuichi Sakamoto’smusic for Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence. These are pieces Lang Lang has encountered through his work with students all over the world and have became part of his favourite works for piano.

Lang Lang has also chosen pieces which hold particular resonance in specific cultures, such as Sweden’s Limu, limu, lima and the popular Chinese Jasmine Flower. He says, “The folk songs from around the world that I encountered on my travels are another reason why this album is of such personal importance. Folk tunes are essential for everyone’s cultural identity. Listening to them I started to hear classical music with new ears, realising how profoundly folk songs and dances had influenced so many classical composers. I got to know wonderful music through my trips to many different countries and wanted to present some of this music on my album.”





  • Michael says:

    I can honestly say that I do not own any of his albums, and this release will certainly not change that!

  • boringfileclerk says:

    His first time back in years, and he phones in an album. His injuries may be far worse than previously thought. While I’ve never been a fan of his interpretations, I do wish him a speedy recovery regardless.

  • aj says:

    What a clever way to make a fast buck !!!!!!

  • The View from America says:

    Is this for real?

    I can’t help but think of Goddard Lieberson’s “Piano Pieces for Advanced Children or Retarded Adults: Five Songs Without Mendelssohn.”

  • Schwalde Hochküst says:

    Deutsche Grammophon => DG => DeGenerated. Für Elise. Give. Me. A. Break.

  • john smith says:

    May he be laid off for many years to come. Less PR department created “superstars” please…..

  • Petros LInardos says:

    There must be a market for this music. As a child I was always anxious to find recordings of (easy piano) works I was learning. I remember listening to a Wilhelm Kempff recording of Fuer Elise. Confusing to my then young ears, but boy was it refined.

    • Not sure if they are available anymore, but search for Morton Estrin’s Great Hits You Played When You Were Young.

      • Petros Linardos says:

        Thank you for the tip. The Estrin recordings you mention are not listed on Arkivmusic or Amazon, so I suppose they are currently not available.
        Another recording in the same vein I remember was Alexis Weissenberg’s Schumann Album for the Young.
        Don’t such recordings, combined with appropriate input from the teachers, help children develop a sense of style? I would be very curious to hear your input on teaching style. Yehudi Menuhin is on record for stating that style is one of the hardest things to teach.

        • aj says:

          you cannot teach style, surprised Menuhin
          would have said such a dumb thing .

          • Petros Linardos says:

            I don’t think this is black and white. One can teach some aspects of style. See Jeffrey Biegels comment below.
            You read too much into my comment about Yehudi Menuhin. I don’t remember his exact wording. But it was definitely to the effect that style is one of the hardest things to learn.

      • Petros Linardos says:

        Your forthcoming recording also seems to serve the same wonderful purpose. I look forward to checking it out when it comes out.

        • Thanks so much! As for teaching, as early as the easiest pieces, I stress singing out loud to instill the need to create a singing sound at the piano as the student progresses. The fingers follow the voice. But that’s another thread, as this is devoted to the comeback of Lang Lang. I noticed some thumbs down on my comment. That’s too bad. The point is to be happy that a young artist who had been absent is returning to playing.

          • Petros Linardos says:

            I am also often baffled at some thumbs down for uncontroversial comments. Especially for yours: they are infused with erudition and kindness.

          • Johnny Carson (if you’re old enough to remember) once said on his show something I will always remember: It takes the same amount of time to be kind as it does to be nasty, so why not be kind?

          • Patrick Ventura says:

            I’m not baffled by the brutal put down of this legendary pianist. There has been a ton of jealousy against Asian pianists for a quite a while.
            I think many young Asian prodigies may have a lot to mature if they wish to be thought of as artistic. But nevertheless, they are still incredible.
            I think many are jealous that the top Asian pianist are far outselling most “Western” pianists on labels such as DG.

  • tian says:

    thanks to the overwhelming negativity here, i have to admit we are lucky to have a pianist like lang lang who can bring more audience (especially young one) to the classical music market as relying on those stubborn, old and dying is totally suicidal.

    • Lang Bang says:

      Token pity here from Tian. Perhaps Chinese-ethnocentrism? We are lucky to have wonderful pianists such as Agerich, Perahia, Schiff, and others. The only thing Lang Lang brings to music is attention to himself.

      • tian says:

        Zero Chinese-ethnocentrism here.
        Controversy, attention and such, why can’t a classical music artist have that as well?

      • Ann says:

        To Lang Bang…If anything, most Chinese pianists are humble. I don’t remember ever hearing them complain.
        Tian may not be in the caliber of some of today’s great pianists such as Cho or Trifonov. But he is good enough to have placed in this mediocre contest.

  • RW2013 says:

    If he’d recorded Elvira Madigan as well, I’d grab a copy.
    Indeed, a long way from Bartok 2.
    All the more reason to say gute Besserung!

  • I have to weigh in. Pianists tackle a very challenging sport. It is not easy on the arms, shoulders, wrists and lower back. Even tennis players have bouts of sports injuries from time to time, and they require medical attention. I remember doing all 19 sonatas by Mozart for recording and had a neck compression. These things happen and we heal with proper care. It is good to see Lang Lang is doing something near and dear to his heart, musically, and playing. Whether you are a fan or not, is no the issue. That he has brought classical music and the piano to a new generation of audiences and young students is a wonderful thing. I found this recording idea so nice, and actually surprised because I recorded something similar in 2016 which will be released finally in digital format very shortly. It consists of many pieces I studied earlier on, eg Brahms, Mendelssohn, Durand, Granados, Chopin,, MacDowell etc, all works that fit well in a compilation project. Many years ago, my teacher, Morton Estrin (before going to Adele Marcus), released a wonderful series of LPs titled, ‘Great Hits You Played When You Were Young’ for the Connoisseur Society label in the ‘squadrophonic’ sound (who remembers those days??) I wish Lang Lang well and hope he recovers to play how he loves best for his fans and audiences.

  • Peter says:

    Reminds me of Itzak Perlman’s album “Concertos from my childhood” comprising several charming student works exquisitely performed. It doesn’t matter that they are technically undemanding. They are an inspiration to young players and show that simple pieces can be works of art.

  • Harrumph says:

    He should record his next album on a white piano to match his outfit. You know, corner the blue-hair market.