Lang Lang in concert in Toulouse: “Bach is of extraordinary depth. With him we are in the sacred”

the essential
Star pianist Lang Lang will perform on Monday January 11 at the Grain Hall the famous “Goldberg Variations” by Johann Sebastian Bach, a monument created in 1740 and repeated hundreds of times, including in films from Bergman to Klapisch. Born in 1982, Lang Lang is a pianist prodigy who started playing at the age of three – for the record, he once played these “Variations” complete and from memory when he was only 17 years old… With the “ Bach’s Goldberg ”, which he also recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, offers Toulouse one of the musical events of the year.

You studied Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” for 20 years before recording and playing them all over the world. You spoke of it as a dream come true …

When I was ten I heard Glenn Gould’s “Goldberg Variations” and was very impressed with his performance. One day, recording this extraordinary work has become a goal in my life. I immersed myself in them and they are without a doubt the musical piece that I have studied the most, dissected in my life.

Why have they marked you so much?

Because I felt that they offered various and infinite possibilities of sound, personality, spirit… It is a baroque work created for the harpsichord, there is a lot of “ornament” and very complex combinations. Gould was only doing one cover – which makes the song a little less difficult.

How did you work on it?

I analyzed the harmony of the musical piece, its spirit and, when I played it to Nikolaus Harnoncourt, he congratulated me but encouraged me to seek more solitude and tranquility in the piece. It opened my eyes: it’s music that you have to take the time to study, in peace and serenity. Later, Andreas Staier, who is a wonderful harpsichordist and pianist, guided me in my search between baroque and romanticism.

You like to introduce classical music to the younger generations: how essential is Bach’s music?

To be frank, it is complex and I don’t think I have as much ease in revealing Bach to very young people as Mozart or Chopin. Bach is of extraordinary depth, we are in the religious, in the sacred.

What do you bring to these “Variations” that has not already been revealed, by Glenn Gould in particular?

I said all the respect and admiration I have for his recordings. I want to show new aspects of this music: a sound that is perhaps less square, less clear, perhaps less sacred. I want to bring it soul, emotions, colors. I want it to be tasted like a wine that has been left to ripen: you take a sip and savor it, taking the time to appreciate all its contours …

This concert at the Halle aux grains is eagerly awaited!

By me too! I love Toulouse and this venue, where I haven’t played for six years I believe, is sublime. Toulouse is a very cultural city and to start the year there with these “Goldberg Variations”, after so many months spent postponing and canceling concerts is a huge joy for me.

Lang Lang in concert “Goldberg Variations” by JS Bach, Monday January 10 at 8 pm at the Halle aux Grains (1, place Dupuy), Toulouse. Prices from 65 to 175 euros. Reservations on the usual websites and points of sale.