10 November 2023
By Ellie Palmer
The new album is set for release by Deutsche Grammophon on 2 CDs, 2 LPs and digitally on 1 March 2024
Superstar pianist Lang Lang is releasing a brand new album next Spring.
Classical favourites, musical discoveries and a pair of captivating large-scale works by Saint-Saëns make up the selection of French works on the new release, titled 'Saint-Saëns'.
Lang Lang joins forces with his wife, pianist Gina Alice, the Gewandhausorchester and conductor Andris Nelsons.
At the heart of the album are the magical Carnival of the Animals, Saint-Saëns’s “Grand Zoological Fantasy” for two pianos and orchestra, and the virtuosic Piano Concerto No. 2. Also included are a dozen works for solo piano or piano four hands – a blend of Belle Époque favourites and neglected gems by female French composers.
The album opens with Carnival of the Animals, which he performs alongside wife Gina. He comments, "Many of us remember Saint-Saëns’s famous Carnival of the Animals from childhood. There are a lot of clever ideas underneath all the fun. He’s making a real statement, but in a very humorous way. And of course it was wonderful to record it with my wife, Gina Alice.”
On working with the Gewandhausorchester and Andris Nelsons for the album, Gina comments, "Collaborating with them was a great honour, and I wanted to give my best and enjoy every moment of it. Practising and recording this piece together with Lang Lang felt like another dimension of communication, and I am truly grateful for this opportunity.”
Lang Lang was also keen to include some well-known smaller-scale solo/four hands works on the album, starting with Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante défunte. He also plays the Toccata from Saint-Saëns’s Six Études, Op. 111 and the Pavane by Fauré, as well as arrangements of “In paradisum” from the latter’s Requiem and the “Flower Duet” from Delibes’s opera Lakmé.
For Debussy’s Petite Suite he is again joined by Gina Alice, who describes playing this evocative work as like “painting a picture”.
The album also includes links to five female composers; Lili Boulanger, Mélanie-Hélène Bonis, Louise Farrenc, Germaine Tailleferre and Charlotte Sohy. Lang Lang explains, "In addition to iconic works by Saint-Saëns, Ravel, Debussy and Fauré, I was able for the first time to make a closer acquaintance with music by French women composers. For this recording I have unearthed some beautiful treasures, which I am thrilled to share.”
The first single and music video, "Aquarium" from Carnival of the Animals, is out now. Watch the music video below and pre-order the album here.