Stories » Lang Lang's technical prowess comes to the fore at Dallas Symphony annual gala / TheaterJones

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Lang Lang's technical prowess comes to the fore at Dallas Symphony annual gala / TheaterJones

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The concert in the middle of these festivities was as extravagant as the rest of the evening. Usually, galas bring in a superstar soloist, a dwindling classification. Chinese rock-star pianist, Lang Lang, certainly fits that description. When he first came to everyone's attention in 1999, it was with a splash. His transcendental mastery of technique was matched by the extravagant show he put on while playing. (Quite a quandary for critics.) Fortunately, at 34, he has calmed down considerably, allowing his remarkable technical prowess to come to the fore.

One thing that has not calmed down is his original take on the standard repertoire. Hearing his performance of the ever-popular B-flat minor piano concerto by Tchaikovsky creates a contradiction in assessing his performance. On the one hand, it is obvious that he has carefully studied, even pondered, every phrase in the concerto-starting at the note level. His astounding ability at the piano is equally obvious. On the other hand, his very personal performance of the score rises above interpretation to a level of commenting. Tempi were sometimes incredibly fast and other times incredibly slow. He frequently added accents and elevated some inner lines to prominence. But the bottom line is that Lang Lang delivered an exciting and erudite performance of singular originality that was perfectly played. He played an encore, delivering an incendiary conflagration of Manuel de Falla's "Ritual Fire Dance" from his ballet El amor brujo.  READ THE FULL TheaterJones REVIEW