Last Friday I had the privilege of watching Lang Lang perform a freshly commissioned piano concerto by Tan Dun (who composed the score for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
) at Avery Fisher Hall in New York. The 25-year-old wunderkind brilliantly exploited the work's wide dynamic contrasts and powerful sonorities, often conjuring extraordinary tone color by hammering the lowest notes of the keyboard, and bewitching the audience with extravagant gestures. Lang Lang is to the piano what Leonard Bernstein was to conducting. Anyway, Sony slipped me a ticket to celebrate its three-year pact with what is arguably the world's greatest living pianist. "Sony is delighted to welcome Lang Lang as a 'brand ambassador' who can reach and connect with audiences around the world," said Sir Howard Stringer in a press release
. Lang Lang describes himself as "a long-time Sony user." No doubt he'll boost Sony's popularity, not only in America but in classical-conscious Europe and his native China. It's great to see a major corporation hitching its wagon to a major pianist. Rumors of classical music's death have been greatly exaggerated.