Lang Lang Receives Standing Ovation at Symphony Hall Recital

Photo: Robert Torres
Written by Olya Yordanyan

By Olya Yordanyan
BU News Service

Chinese classical piano superstar Lang Lang was featured in a recital at Symphony Hall as part of the Celebrity Series of Boston Sunday afternoon.

The Hall was sold-out in anticipation of a dazzling performance. Lang’s signature techniques–effortless touch, delicate phrasing, lingering pauses and expressive articulation–were on full display throughout the program.

Lang, 33, played Tchaikovsky’s The Seasons, J.S. Bach’s Italian Concerto in F Major and Chopin’s Four Scherzos.

Pianist Lang Lang performs with Celebrity Series of Boston at Symphony Hall on Sunday. Photo: Robert Torres

Pianist Lang Lang performs with Celebrity Series of Boston at Symphony Hall on Sunday. Photo: Robert Torres

The Seasons is a cycle of 12 short pieces; each for one of the twelve months. Played individually, they are not technically difficult. However, they are very challenging when performed together, requiring a more distinctive interpretation of each piece.

Lang expertly conveyed the character of each month through his playing, capturing the festive spirit of February and December, sadness and regret of October,  joyfulness of November and romance and nostalgia of June.

This was followed by Bach’s Italian Concerto in F major, comprised of three movements. The depth and diversity of articulation common for Bach were missing from the first movement. Delicate notes and legatos were persistent in the second, making it sound like a piece by a 19th century romantic composer. Lang performed the last movement vigorously with expressive articulations, explicitly conveying Bach’s spirit.

After an intermission, Lang performed Chopin’s Four ScherzosNo. 1 in B minor, Op.20, No. 2 in B flat minor, Op 31, No. 3 in C sharp minor, Op.39 and No. 4 in E major, Op 54. The Scherzos were the highlight of the recital. They require more technical ability and flexibility given the fast tempos, abundance of difficult descending arpeggios and abruptly rolling themes.

Lang captured the dynamic and passionate spirit of these pieces, ranging from the darkness and drama of Scherzo No. 1 to comparative lightness of Scherzo No. 4.

The recital was followed by an extended standing ovation and two encores, as the applauses and bravoes continued.

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