Lang Lang Plays From Bach’s Goldberg Variations

Virtuoso pianist Lang Lang has conquered many musical mountains, but now he takes on what he considers his Mount Everest: Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Unable to perform for live audiences during the pandemic, the pianist has taken to Zoom to offer a special performance for Christiane, and to explain just what this masterwork means to him.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you then, I mean, obviously, China is where this COVID started, in Wuhan, do you feel that there is an opportunity for concerts in the near future or do you think that’s going to be something that’s very, very much in the distance?

LANG LANG, PIANIST: Here, gradually I see that the concerts are opening slowly, with 40 percent of the capacity. But even in this case, it’s hard to really do concert because the presenters are a little bit afraid of — you know, for the economic reason. It’s not easy to make concerts. So, there are some orchestras and some players are starting to perform again but very slowly, and that need to be weighed until everything get back to normal worldwide.

AMANPOUR: Let’s get back to Bach and the Goldberg Variations. You were in Germany, you went to his grave, in the church, you saw the original first Bach organ also in Germany and there’s amazing pictures of it. In fact, the painting behind you is a representation of the actual photo that was taken of you, essentially paying homage, right, to Bach. Just tell me about what that meant to you.

LANG LANG: I was playing next to Bach’s grave, to the piano next to the grave. And also, when I walked into the church, it has the most beautiful vibration of the sound. It’s almost like an old (INAUDIBLE) sounds. And I played his organ and I would like to repeat a little bit of the sound what I felt in that room.

AMANPOUR: Yes, please do. Please.

LANG LANG: Yes. So, it was baroque organ, exactly the same as one Bach’s time. It sounds a little bit like this.


About This Episode EXPAND

Jonathan Powell and Mark Landler join Christiane to explain how the UK’s Brexit plans could violate international law. Pianist Lang Lang plays from Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Journalist Jim Tankersley debunks myths of America’s middle class.