Whether or not one enjoys Lang's playing, one cannot deny it's caught the imagination of younger listeners. Where older pianists' faultless fidelity sounds overly scrupulous to them, Lang's flamboyant individuality sounds recklessly impetuous and extraordinarily exhilarating. While older listeners disdain his indifference to tradition, his contemporaries acclaim Lang's freshness, his freedom, and his obvious delight in his own prowess. And, it must be added, Lang's contemporaries include not only the already established European and American markets but the vast and burgeoning Asian market as well making him a truly international phenomenon.
Like it or not, Lang isn't killing classical music; he's keeping it alive by making it new. Lang isn't only the present, he's quite probably the future of classical music. Like it or not, all one can reasonably do is get used to it.
To paraphrase the poet, "Roll over, Pollini tell Perahia the news."
Photo © Felix Broede / Deutsche Grammophon.
[Review published April 2008]