The twenty-five-year-old Chinese supervirtuoso will be making his second Ann Arbor appearance in Hill Auditorium on Wednesday, April 2. For those who missed his debut here in 2004, his performing style is well documented on eight Deutsche Grammophon CDs, the most recent titled The Magic of Lang Lang, and in YouTube clips, the most popular called "Lang Lang Gone Mad." Reactions to his style are equally well documented and equally divided. For those who love him, he is classical music's Jimi Hendrix. For those who loathe him, he is his generation's José Iturbi.
However one feels about Lang's style, one can describe his approach. For Lang the notes in the score are inviolate, and never before has any pianist executed them with such deadly accuracy. Everything else, though, is up for grabs. Tempos are supremely supple, turning and twisting with scant regard for bar lines or tempo indications. Articulation is entirely willful, with legato lines punctured by unmarked staccato and staccato lines distorted by unindicated sforzandos. Dynamic markings, along with crescendo and diminuendo markings, are ignored or reversed as often as obeyed.