Fuck Lang Lang.
It’s truly miserable to see ignorant, pseudo-intellectual, conceited people claim Lang Lang is an outstanding pianist, or even a mediocre one.
Now, there is huge jealousy and contempt towards other musician’s in all rings of the “music world”. Especially, when it comes to solo instruments like piano (and undoubtedly when it is musicians in the classical music genre). But please do not think me jealous. I know I am not as good as him, and I know I will never be as good as him. But this does not make him good either.
Let’s break things down. He gets repeatedly gets asked the mundane question of “How long do you practice for?”, to this he always answers “Eight hours a day”. This is a ludicrously large amount of time to be practicing. It’s unnecessary and can be physically unhealthy too. It also prevents you from using your brain power on other things human beings should enjoy such as being social and happy. Sviatoslav Richter quite famously practiced for four hours a day and you’d certainly struggle to find a better pianist in terms of interpretive depth and decency of technique. If like Lang Lang, you practice eight hours a day, and are thirty one years of age, and started playing the piano at age three; you really should be an awful lot better than he is. Who’s performances are inaudible through sheer volume and riddled with mistakes. All decorated with little pianist cheats to help you glide through the difficult parts unharmed.
Which takes me on nicely to an unrelated point. This new obsession (which is particularly popular with Asian music students like Lang Lang) of practicing for stupid amounts of hours a day is not helping anybody with anything. Bach famously said “All one has to do is hit the right notes at the right time and the instrument plays itself”. Maybe for baroque music, where the very composition was confined by the iron rules set down by Johann Joseph Fux’s monolithic “Gradus ad Parnassum” and later, Cherubini’s changes to that concrete theory that all music is sat upon. The pieces themselves would be commissioned by insane European royals; played on an instrument with little to no dynamic range. But come the middle to late 18th century onwards, I’m not so sure I agree with the infamous Bach quote. Less hours practice over a longer period of time will let you learn to hit the right notes at the right time just as well as eight hours a day over a shorter space of time. This will help you emotionally grasp the music and understand it better. This will also give you time to actually go and enjoy other things and other people, which is the most important thing to do in the world. Classical music is an art like no other, and music is a part of every single person’s life. But if you remove yourself from society to play eight hours a day your entire life, and become socially inept like so many people in the classical music world, then you are a fool. The 1900’s was the golden age of concert pianists, producing the most talented of them all, and they weren’t just virtuoso artists, they were successful pop stars and socialites, people who the public loved. Not misanthropic snobs that sit indoors at all times. Oh, and if you are a parent. And if you force your child to play for hours and hours whilst growing up (like so many do), in some ditch attempt to make them what you couldn’t become or somebody you want them to be, then you are a total cunt and you should be fucking ashamed of yourself. The world is in a horrible situation where children are becoming computer oriented drones that only care about the internet and Hollywood. Every child should learn an interment or play sport or do some sort of extracurricular activity, but it should be something they enjoy and they should have time to play and relax.
But back to the winner of “hottest classical music figure” every year since 1999. His technique awful, and don’t believe it isn’t because he plays at lightening speed. Anybody can do that, if you want to see a truly good concert pianist do it, check out Russian pianist Lazar Berman, nobody can combine fantastic interpretation and speed like him. Ability to play at speed does not make you technically good, Lang Lang is a perfect example of this. His knuckles are sunk towards the keys and his wrists are as high as he can get them; presumably to anticipate his signature full-body fits he displays when performing. Please don’t be so stupid as to blurt out the tired old response of “he does them because he’s passionate and so in to the music”. You’re a stuck record, get a grip and stop romanticising. He does it because he seeks attention and it’s a selling point to the ignorant. You would never find somebody truly involved in deep consideration and total emotional involvement straining their face like they’re trying to shit a lead balloon on the stage floor and waving their arms around like they’ve taken ecstasy and just happened to fall on to a fucking piano stool. If you went in to the Moscow or Vienna Conservatory, or the Royal Academy of Music and did that sort of thing you’d be laughed at. It is totally unnecessary. You would never find any of the performers that were known for their perfect technique (such as Glenn Gould) play this way. When performing, the artist being emotionally connected to the music is yearned for by the listeners. But make it genuine, not a pantomime act. Lang Lang’s technique is a joke; a product of his mad practice schedule beating in habits till he can’t break them. Keep your wrists flat, your fingers round, and do not roll your wrists. The German school of though has thought to have been the best for hundred of years for a reason.
What’s most infuriating, is that Lang Lang has dominated the classical piano charts and people that are new to classical music rarely hear of great names such as Glenn Gould, Maurizio Pollini, Sviatoslav Richter, Vladimir Horowitz, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Valentina Lisitsa. And Krystian Zimerman, who I believe is the finest concert pianist that ever lived. And I beg of you to watch and listen to him if you have not already. These people were and still are true masters of piano. With the most incredible virtuosity and technique; the most delicate touch with perfect interpretations. They were and are social, talented people who played music because they loved it. Not to model designer clothes and turn classical music in to the unlistenable, sensationalised bullshit the rest of the music world vomits in to our fucking ears on a daily torturous basis.
If you still are convinced he’s simply the best (better than all the rest), find him playing a piece and somebody from the list of pianists I wrote down in that previous paragraph and have somebody play them to you in a random order while you are blindfolded. I can guarantee you will not pick Lang Lang. This is an experiment I have performed on so many people, and I have come out on top every time. I’ll give you a secret tip, it’s because he bangs his way through every piece at the loudest volume he can. The nickname Bang Bang that he has begun receiving from people over the past year fits him like a glove.
Maybe if Bang Bang spent less time concentrating on pulling his trademark “passionate” faces and more time thinking about his interpretation and ironing out the technical creases, I’d be less of a sour cunt about the whole fucking situation.