Lang Lang impresses with keyboard mastery
From My San Antonio
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Superstar pianist Lang Lang delivered on his global fame and more in his performance Wednesday night at the Majestic Theatre.
The sold-out audience leapt to its feet upon the riveting, triumphant conclusion of the Sergei Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 with the San Antonio Symphony that brought a long-anticipated concert to an impressive ending.
Almost. Lang Lang extended the joy with two encores that left the audience just as breathless.
The experience for the 2,400 people was enhanced wonderfully by an overhead camera that projected the San Antonio Symphony’s Steinway keyboard on an above-stage screen so everyone could witness the power, finesse and grace of Lang Lang’s hands.
Lang Lang has a geopolitical aura around him as a symbol of Chinese youth and the giant nation’s emergence as a world power. All of that seemed to be shoved aside in the interest of music in Wednesday night’s one-night concert.
He appeared on stage humbly with his trademark spiky hair. The first few solo notes in the concerto were demonstrative until the orchestra introduced the first lush melody.
Lang Lang went on to exhibit a keyboard mastery that is so absolute, he could concentrate solely on interpreting the music. His insight propelled a vision of music that was healing as much as it was beautiful.
Lang Lang didn’t showboat his way through the concerto. He didn’t overdo anything. Instead of theatrics, he put the music first. He seemed hypnotized by the music and made the audience feel like he was playing the most precious piece of music ever.
Who knows who the world’s best pianist is? Many people probably left the concert convinced they just heard him. It certainly was a Rachmaninoff Second Concerto of a lifetime.
The evening was thoughtfully planned by new San Antonio Symphony Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing.
The concert started with a relaxing reading of Rachmaninoff’s short, sweet “Vocalise,” to help the capacity audience settle in. Beethoven’s too-rarely performed Fourth Symphony glowed from Lang-Lessing’s nimble tempos, a happy sunbeam for a chilly winter night in San Antonio.