Lang Lang Shares An Elegant Waltz From His Upcoming Album

Deutsche Grammophon is delighted to unveil a new track from Lang Lang. Taken from his forthcoming album Lang Lang – Saint-Saëns, his rendition of Tailleferre’s Valse lente is available to stream or download from January 12, together with a performance video. Lang Lang – Saint-Saëns is released on 2 CDs, 2 LPs and digitally on March 1, 2024. At its heart are Saint-Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals and Piano Concerto No. 2, for which Lang Lang is joined by the Gewandhausorchester, Andris Nelsons and, for the former, his wife and fellow pianist Gina Alice. The album also includes a dozen pieces for solo piano or piano four hands – a mix of Belle Époque favourites and neglected gems by female French composers.

One such gem is the elegant Valse lente by Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983), primarily remembered today as the only female member of the group of composers known as Les Six. Lang Lang gives a wonderfully subtle performance of this elegant, nostalgic work, which he finds very evocative. “You see the flowers blossom in the evening with these chords”, notes the pianist about one particular sequence, who adds that the work as a whole reminds him of holidaying in the South of France.

Lang Lang – Saint Saëns includes music by four other unjustly overlooked French women composers. The pianist has selected D’un jardin clair by Lili Boulanger (1893-1918); “La toute petite s’endort” from Miocheries by Mélanie-Hélène Bonis (1858-1937); Étude No. 10 by Louise Farrenc (1804-1875); and “Romance sans paroles” from Quatre pièces romantiques Op. 30 by Charlotte Sohy (1897-1955).

Alongside these rarities, Lang Lang has chosen a series of other smaller-scale works by more familiar French names. These include Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante défunte; Fauré’s Pavane; and Debussy’s Petite Suite, a duet with Gina Alice.

Of the album’s two large-scale orchestral works by Saint-Saëns, the Second Piano Concerto is, according to Lang Lang, a “magnificent but underrated Romantic masterpiece”. Reviewing his recent sell-out performance at London’s Royal Albert Hall, The Guardian highlighted passages in which “Lang’s fingers skimmed the keys apparently without effort, the melodic tumult glinting like priceless gems”. As part of the pianist’s Saint-Saëns project, a film of the work made live in concert at Leipzig’s Gewandhaus will be available to watch on STAGE+ on April 6, 2024.

By contrast, Carnival of the Animals is hugely well-known, having introduced millions to classical music. The artists’ reading of “Aquarium” is already available digitally, complete with performance video. The album ends with a piano four hands arrangement of “The Swan” in which Lang Lang plays both parts. This comes out as a single on February 9, with “Fossils” following, alongside the album, on March 1. A filmed version of Carnival of the Animals premieres on STAGE+ on February 10.

Lang Lang continues to perform Saint-Saëns’s Piano Concerto No. 2 this season, with forthcoming dates in Berlin (Staatsoper, 11 March; Philharmonie, March 12), San Diego (April) 12, Cleveland, Ohio (May 2/4) and Paris (June 12). He and Gina Alice play Carnival of the Animals in Paris on June 14.