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Daniel Barenboim and Lang Lang This past winter at Chicago's Symphony Center, PT Host Fred Child went behind-the-scenes with conductor Daniel Barenboim and the energetic young Chinese-American pianist Lang Lang as they prepared to make a recording with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Do musicians approach a recording session the same way as they would approach a concert performance, or a rehearsal? Who exactly is the boss in this whole operation? The conductor? The soloist? The producer in the control room? Fred finds the answers from Lang Lang, Barenboim, Deutsche Grammophon producer Christian Gansch, Prinicipal Oboist Alex Klein, and Assistant Concertmaster Yuan-Qing Yu.

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'Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn: First Piano Concertos' CD cover
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Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn: First Piano Concertos

Hear 30-second selections

audio icon Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23 - Mvt. 1: Allegro non troppo

audio icon Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23 - Mvt. 2: Prestissimo

audio icon Mendelssohn: Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25 - Mvt. 1: Molto allegro con fuoco

Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn: First Piano Concertos
Lang Lang, piano
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon B0000666-02
Released: July 2003

"After a performance, there may be a hundred different opinions about how every phrase should go or should have gone. But, at the moment of making the music, it is absolutely imperative that everybody on the stage really wants to hear the same thing."
-- Daniel Barenboim, conductor

At the end of the strenuous, three-day recording session, Lang Lang expressed his satisfaction to Fred Child on the stage of Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center. This new CD of the First Piano Concertos by Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn is Lang Lang's debut recording with the Chicago Symphony and on the Deutsche Grammophon label. For the 20-year-old pianist, the whole process has been a "tremendous experience," enhanced by the fact that Maestro Barenboim himself is a former child prodigy and renowned concert pianist.

In preparation for the recording, Lang Lang spent several hours reviewing the scores of the Tchaikovsky and the Mendelssohn with his new mentor. Chicago Symphony concertgoers got a preview of the Mendelssohn Piano Concerto in April, and evident throughout the performance was what Lang Lang learned from Barenboim about how to shape the music.

During the recording session, Fred noticed that Barenboim rarely had to make eye contact with his soloist. The maestro explained that he had a good deal of faith in the young musician, who plays in "such a convincing nature... When there's that degree of musical understanding, there's very little need for eye contact. You know, I can feel him in the spine musically what he's going to do, and I'm sure the same thing for him."

In Depth