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Lang Lang as Chinese Punk

That was a reviewer's headline for classical pianist Lang Lang's appearance with the Czech Philharmonic a few weeks ago. I know a few people who have lauded Lang Lang's fiery technique and youthful playing, but I suspect he has a stronger tinge of exoticism in the Czech Republic than in North America. Lang Lang, a pianist of Chinese origin, has lived for a decade in the USA, but according to the Czech press, his image is more of a punk star "who has become an idol, particularly for the female part of the public." Well, I guess if he's looking for groupies then taking up classical piano was the right choice. I wonder if the Czech violinist Pavel Šporcl, known for wearing a head scarf, has the same problem? (Is Šporcl ever mobbed by crowds enthralled with the "violinist as Czech biker"?)

Here is an account of Lang Lang's performance at the Rudolfinum in Prague:

It was no wonder that Lang Lang's Prague debut drew unprecedented numbers of listeners or that the programs were sold out long before concert night, which shouldn't happen for institutions like the Czech Philharmonic. Lang Lang excelled in his version of Rachmaninov's demanding Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. He even added a soulful expression to the virtuosic technique, which literally flowed from the keyboard and with this the composition's many variations flowed airily by.

I envision the female members of the audience, swooning with faint sighs, as he draws out his handkerchief with a dramatic, positively Lisztian, flourish and dabs a pristine drop of sweat from his forehead. It would be right at one cadences that is sparklingly punctuated by the glokenspiel, or perhaps one of the slow and dramatic ones with roiling arpeggios, or better yet, when the Dies Irae rears its head. Yet it's still difficult to find the punk in all of this. I mean really, Rachmaninov? Of course, Šporcl is even more disadvantaged here since he's on a Dvořák concert tour this season.

Source: Novinky: Lang Lang jako čínský punk

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Blogger Karla said . . .

Hubert seemed to think that Lang Lang's hair was a punk element, but judging by the photo, it is certainly no more punk than Hubert's hair. Does this make Hubert a Chinese punk after all? (Only Hubert can tell...)    

11:33 PM, November 20, 2006

Blogger Hubert said . . .

I thought I saw a different photo than the one Jesse posted. In that photo his hair doesn't look so punky, agreed.    

11:56 PM, November 20, 2006

Blogger morskyjezek said . . .

Well, he probably has many publicity photos. Perhaps he had more punk hairdos depending on the album he was working on. I did see one where he had much spikier hair.    

11:59 PM, November 20, 2006

Blogger Brian Sacawa said . . .

I'd have to say that he was probably referring more to LL's physical image rather than his choice of repertoire or playing style. Although I think more than a few people take issue with his histrionics...    

4:02 AM, November 21, 2006

Blogger Hubert said . . .

This comment has been removed by the author.    

2:44 PM, November 21, 2006

Blogger DTMRacerX said . . .

"I guess if he's looking for groupies then taking up classical piano was the right choice."

A HAHAHAHA oh it's all too funny.    

4:25 PM, November 21, 2006

Blogger Hubert said . . .

With all this talk of hair, histrionics, and hairy histrionics, now I wish I went to see the show!    

12:30 AM, November 22, 2006

Blogger Hubert said . . .

But that's a pretty nice line that Jesse pulled off ... the one about the wiping off the brow of sweat ... if ethnomusicology ever BORES you, you can move on to literature!    

12:31 AM, November 22, 2006

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