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Lang Lang In Concert At The Met Museum

For more than half of his 32 years, Lang Lang has been in the spotlight, as an international star and arguably the most crowd-pleasing classical pianist on the planet. From venues as diverse as the Beijing Olympics and Brazil's World Cup to New York's Central Park and Stockholm's Nobel Prizes, Lang Lang routinely crisscrosses the globe playing to innumerable masses. Last month he filled London's cavernous Royal Albert Hall two nights in a row.

Thursday, May 14th, the charismatic pianist lands at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to perform a concert at 8 p.m. ET. The performance will be webcast by the Met Museum and NPR Music, and viewable on this page.

Lang Lang's appearance is tied to the opening of the Met's new exhibition China: Through the Looking Glass, an exploration of how Chinese aesthetics have influenced Western fashion. The exhibition was organized, in conjunction with the museum's department of Asian Art, by The Costume Institute, which held its popular gala last week. The party is a magnet for celebrities and flamboyant fashions, ranging this year from Rihanna's voluminous fabric to Beyonce's, well, lack thereof.

A snappy dresser himself, Lang Lang has been cited in the past for having a little too much glitz at the keyboard. But in recent years critics have noticed he seems to be settling into what might be called a more mature style. For this Met Museum performance, there are no explosive Vladimir Horowitz transcriptions or thundering Rachmaninov sonatas. Instead, the focus is on The Seasons, a lesser known cycle of 12 short pieces by Tchaikovsky and and a set of Chinese pieces including Lü Wencheng's evocative "Autumn Moon on a Calm Lake."

If the technical demands for those pieces are on the lighter side, especially for a pianist of Lang Lang's virtuosity, a more daunting task will be tackling the physical and interpretive challenges in the first and third of Chopin's scherzos. But the music should be firmly under Lang Lang's fingers. He's planning to release an album featuring the Tchaikovsky and Chopin this fall.


Chopin: Scherzo No. 1 in B minor, Op. 20
Chopin: Scherzo No. 3 in C-sharp minor, Op. 39

Tchaikovsky: The seasons, Op. 37b
-January: By the Fireside
-June: Barcarolle
-July: Reaper's Song
-September: The Hunt
-October: Autumn Song
-December: Christmas

Wu Zuqiang/Du Mingxin: Dance of the Seaweed
Wu Zuqiang/Du Mingxin: Dance of the Coral

Li Huanzhi: Spring Festival Overture Fantasy

Lü Wencheng: Autumn Moon on a Calm Lake

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Tom Huizenga is a producer for NPR Music. He contributes a wide range of stories about classical music to NPR's news programs and is the classical music reviewer for All Things Considered. He appears regularly on NPR Music podcasts and founded NPR's classical music blog Deceptive Cadence in 2010.