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Lang Lang thrills Cleveland Orchestra crowd at gala performance / Cleveland Plain Dealer review

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In years past, there was the temptation, when reviewing a concert by the ebullient pianist Lang Lang, to take in the entire performance with eyes closed. His visual presence onstage, and his demeanor while playing, had been noted as either an expression of the infectious vitality that animates this classical music superstar, or a supreme example of extraneous exhibitionism. How much easier it would be just to listen to the music.

What a difference a decade or so makes. At the ripe old age of 32, Lang Lang has toned down the most outlandish of his mannerisms, which is is to say the startling hairstyles and the flashy outfits, opting instead for his performance with the Cleveland Orchestra Saturday at Severance Hall for dark jacket and slacks and a trimmed coif. When it comes to his performance, however, the voltage runs as high as ever.

Headliner at a special gala benefit for the Cleveland Orchestra's education and community outreach programs, LL played among others one of his signature pieces, Peter Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, with the Cleveland Orchestra under music director Franz Welser-Möst's baton. Lang Lang's first album entirely devoted to the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is now available on Sony Classical.

READ THE FULL Cleveland Plain Dealer REVIEW