Stories » Lang Lang releases: Prokofiev & Bartok: Piano Concertos TODAY!! First recorded collaboration w/Simon Rattle & Berliner Philharmonik

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Lang Lang releases: Prokofiev & Bartok: Piano Concertos TODAY!! First recorded collaboration w/Simon Rattle & Berliner Philharmonik

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Lang Lang releases New Studio Recording of Piano Concertos by Prokofiev and Bartók TODAY!! October 22. This is LL's first recorded collaboration with Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmonik. Watch the accompanying documentary "The Highest Level" on DVD and Blu-ray available in November

The world's best-selling pianist, Lang Lang, joins one of the most renowned orchestras for two of the 20th century's landmark piano concertos. Lang Lang teams up with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle in Berlin's Philharmonie for a studio recording of Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto and Bartók's Second Piano Concerto. 

'I've wanted to record with Maestro Rattle and his orchestra for a long time. The Berliner Philharmoniker is extraordinary to work with – the winds and brass are from a different planet and Sir Simon creates a depth of tone with the orchestra, particularly when playing quietly, that's unique. Some of my happiest musical experiences have taken place with this orchestra. We performed the Prokofiev 3 in 2007 in Salzburg and I gave four performances of the Bartók 2 earlier this year with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Both works have such life and such rhythmic vitality that to my ears they sound absolutely contemporary. I believe these concertos have a musical relevance that's absolutely right for our time," comments Lang Lang.

It did not take much persuasion for Sir Simon Rattle to collaborate as he too found the unusual juxtaposition of these two concertos particularly inspiring and points out – of the Bartók – that "I don't know when I've ever heard a pianist who is able to be more uncannily accurate in this piece and then still have the technical ability in reserve to make it dance, make it phrase." And – of the Prokofiev – "It goes without saying that it's extraordinarily difficult and virtuosic to play, and it's an amazingly splashy display piece, but with many moments of delicacy and beauty. It's a very characteristic Lang Lang piece – he plays it absolutely to the manner born. It's his kind of music."

Bartók's rarely recorded Second Piano Concerto is one of the most technically challenging works in the pianist's repertoire. Lang Lang puts it on par with the Brahms Second Piano Concerto and Rachmaninov's Third for technical complexity, though concedes that it's on its own in requiring an especially intense level of understanding between soloist and conductor. Prokofiev 3 is Lang Lang's favorite of the composer's five piano concertos, and a work that has been part of his concert repertoire for over a decade. "I think I've had enough preparation: 15 years of Prokofiev 3 and 9 years of Bartok 2 and now, at 30, it is quite a solid age for this type of physically demanding repertoire."

The album will be accompanied by a captivating 60-minute documentary "The Highest Level" unveiling the excitement, adrenalin, highs and challenges experienced by the artists and their team as they create these new recordings. The documentary as well as a complete filmed version of the Prokofiev Concerto will be released in November on DVD and Blu-ray.