Lang Lang

In Lyric recital, pianist Lang Lang goes easy on the antics

“Are you going to the circus?” was the question I heard most often in the run-up to Saturday night’s piano recital by international classical superstar Lang Lang at the massive Civic Opera House.
 
A rather frenetic radio campaign by presenter Lyric Opera of Chicago touted the performer as a “dervish of the keyboard” and promised an overhead camera and live screen projection of “Lang Lang’s hands.” And a tendency to spectacle by the Chinese-born, Curtis Institute (Philadelphia) graduate that has run through his phenomenal, almost 13-year career was a reasonable cause for worry by some.
 
But those who have watched this young man closely — he turns 30 just next month — since his last-minute, major venue debut at Ravinia in 1999 know that he is a performer of many parts. When he wants to focus his unique and even breathtaking technical ability and share his artistic investigations rather than crazy hairdos, onstage antics or over-the-top programming or interpretation, he can hold an audience as few others can with playing that is remarkably musical.