Superstar pianist Lang Lang today released his new recording of Johann Sebastian Bach’s monumental keyboard work the Goldberg Variations. “This is a very important dream-come-true moment,” said Lang Lang who studied Bach’s iconic composition for 20 years before finally realising his lifelong dream by recording the Goldberg Variations.
Watch live stream from the historic Temple in Beijing
Lang Lang celebrated the global release of his recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations with a personal introduction and performance from the historic Temple (东景缘, Dongjingyuan) in Beijing – the site of the old imperial printing house and a former Buddhist shrine. He performed extracts from the Goldberg Variations and answered questions from fans.
“These twin versions will open new doors to Bach’s sublimely coded mystery” – The Economist
Lang Lang has released two complementary performances of the Goldberg Variations: a studio recording and a live performance recorded at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, where Bach worked and is now buried. The two recordings can be purchased together as a super deluxe edition, the first simultaneous live and studio album release for the Goldbergs, offering fascinating insights into the art of interpretation.
“Playing in the Thomaskirche, where Bach is buried, was unbelievably emotional for me,” recalled Lang Lang. “I’ve never felt as close to a composer as I did during that recital. The live version is very spontaneous, whereas in the studio version my playing is different – very considered and reflective. In a concert situation you experience the 100-minute work as a whole. In the studio you can focus on individual details and nuances, and of course that can affect the musical experience quite substantially.” The Economist noted, “These twin versions will open new doors to Bach’s sublimely coded mystery” and the New York Times described the recording as, “Deeply felt”.
“I think the time was right for a new stage in my artistic development”
“I would say performing and recording this concert leads me into the next level of piano playing,” explained Lang Lang. “I’m now 38 and, while that’s not old, I think the time was right for a new stage in my artistic development. I’ve moved into new terrain with the Goldberg Variations and really immersed myself fully in this project. My goal as an artist is to keep becoming more self-aware and more knowledgeable, as well as to keep offering inspiration to others. It’s an ongoing process, but this project has taken me a little further along the path.”
Bach’s Goldberg Variations is one of the greatest works ever written for the keyboard and demands total spiritual focus from the performer. The collection was first published in 1741 and consists of 30 variations, introduced and concluded by a single ‘aria’.
“This is the most creative and multidimensional work in the keyboard repertoire, it is also deeply emotional and goes straight to the heart,” observed Lang Lang. “It allows us to draw on everything we have within ourselves, but also makes us realise what’s missing and what we still have to learn.”
Lang Lang’s recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations is out now and can be bought here.