Saturday, April 18, 2009

Five short films about Lang Lang

The pianist Lang Lang is in residency in London and the BBC did a cute interview with him that you can see here.

Five quick things:

1.) Can we for once not see or hear the word "hottest"? "He is the hottest classical music artist on the planet." There is a dumb quote for you.

Although here on this Web log we are allowed to talk about Beethoven's hot nephew.

And I have to say also that in the BBC interview it is hilarious to see that proper British interviewer in her high-waisted dress say "the hottest pianist on the classical music planet" in that accent of hers. Ahahahahaaa!

2.) Is anyone else sick of hearing pianists talked of in terms of the competitions they have won? Granted, my views on competitions are colored by all my conversations with Leonard Pennario, who was a judge for the Van Cliburn Competition and the Naumburg and would get me laughing about them sometimes until I was almost in tears. But even before I met him I used to worry that because it is all about these competitions, we are starting to see pianists like a bunch of champion fleas. Practically every pianist's bio I see begins with a long list of contests the person has won. I do not think that is right.

3.) Lang Lang says he was initially drawn to classical music because of Tom and Jerry cartoons. That supports my theory that it's not rocket science how people discover classical music. All you have to do is run across it.

4.) He practices three hours a day. Pennario always practiced for two hours. Many pianists practice for hours and hours. I am always interested in how much musicians practice. Sometimes they have told me that is a dumb question but in that case I always shoot back that no, it is not!

5.) Fie on the BBC for not letting Lang Lang get through his Chopin Polonaise. As soon as it gets to the good part the woman barges in and goes: "Absolutely stunning." Leaving me dying to hear the whole thing.

These shows are always all talk and no action!

1 comment:

  1. I think pianists, and other instrumentalists, have been herded like champion fleas for a long time. The real problem is there's more talent around than there is demand for it; just another example of mankind's screwed up priorities.

    Lang Lang practices for three hours? Was that true when he was in training? DId he do more or less back then? How about Hanon, Czerny, etc.? Abram Chasins, in his book "Speaking Of Pianists" tells of a time when Godowsky tore into Josef Hoffman for telling an interviewer that technique building exercises were unnecessary. Godowsky told Hofmann that he must have forgotten all the studies he had to work on as a kid to get where he was. This is an interesting subject. One also wonders about the early days of touring by coach, sailing ship and later, rail. How much practicing did Liszt, Thalberg, Rubinstein and others miss? Did their playing hold up after many days journey? Some took dummy keyboards with them, but I don't know how common that was. See? More questions than answers.