Lang Lang

Lang Lang leads BSO into 100th season - by The Washington Post

Lang Lang leads BSO into 100th season - by The Washington Post

An orchestra’s season-opening gala is, first and foremost, about its donors and patrons, many of whom are not hard-core music lovers. Programming is a delicate balancing act — the music nestled between speeches, tributes and videos — and the presence of the obligatory marquee star notwithstanding, the actual musicmaking is often secondary.

This is the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s centenary season, and its black-tie gala Saturday in Meyerhoff Hall was certainly a glamorous affair — both of Maryland’s U.S. senators, the city’s mayor and the City Council president were among the luminaries in attendance — and the energy level increased as the evening progressed.

It was in short supply for the first two numbers, Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance March No. 4” and Paul Dukas’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (made famous in Disney’s “Fantasia”). Conductor Christopher Seaman was earthbound and prosaic, finding little of the fantasy in the Dukas — the climaxes all sounded the same — and flattening out the nostalgia in the Elgar.

Headliner Lang Lang, who, we learned, made his professional concerto debut with the BSO in 1989, then took the stage for Rachmaninoff’s Second Concerto.

Lang is a superstar, and it goes without saying that he brought the house down. He is often called an “ambassador” for music because of his many forays into non-musical realms, such as sports, social media, corporate partnerships and the like.

 

For many music lovers, the pianist’s show-and-tell performing style and his willingness to ignore basic rules of musical rhetoric when there’s a dramatic or maudlin point to be made are appalling. But he gave the audience what it came for and launched the new season with undeniable eclat.

The evening closed with a wonderful, goofy, circuslike performance by Lang, the BSO and an assemblage of musicians and dancers from the orchestra’s “OrchKids” after-school program, all bopping and boogeying to Pharrell’s “Happy.”

 

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