A Modern Piano Dynamo’s Return, at the Granada in Santa Barbara
Acclaimed Pianist Lang Lang, No Stranger in Santa Barbara, Returns on the Theme of Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’
Chinese-born classical piano sensation Lang Lang has graced Santa Barbara stages several times over the years, including in 2008 — at the ripe young age of 26, shortly after playing to an audience of billions for the opening of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. A year later, he appeared as soloist with the Santa Barbara Symphony and has performed subsequent recitals presented by CAMA and UCSB Arts & Lectures (A&L). In an interview I did in 2012, the pianist commented “I actually love to play at Santa Barbara very much. I feel very relaxed and happy with the audience here. It is extremely passionate and positive.”
As part of the current A&L season, Lang returns, after an eight-year absence in town, to The Granada Theatre on Monday, February 27, at a point where his position in the upper echelon of living pianists is secure, and when early questions about showboating young prodigy tendencies have yielded to general appreciation of his interpretive expertise.
For the upcoming recital, Lang’s program is mostly focused on that undisputed masterwork and test of insight in the piano repertoire, Bach’s Goldberg Variations, along with Schumann’s Arabesque in C major, Op. 18. As he told me, “Bach is the composer who provided fundamentals for everything. I’ve learned it from childhood.”
Among Lang’s achievements is a popularization of classical music and helping to expand its audience, sometimes through lighter crossover projects such as his recent popular album The Disney Book, which followed his 2021 recording of the Goldberg Variations, on the distinguished Germany-based Deutsche Grammophon label. His recent shift from the Goldbergs into Disney gear may have something to do with the fact that Lang had his first child two years back.
Lang Lang performs at The Granada Theatre (1214 State St.) on Monday, February 27, at 7 p.m. See artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.
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