Boston, take note: The Russians are coming. But this isn’t a New Cold War threat, it’s a promise of some of the most passionate classical music ever written. Saturday’s Boston Symphony Orchestra Opening Night Gala features a vigorous all-Russian program that includes Mussorgsky’s perky “Pictures at an Exhibition,” and Shostakovich’s aptly named “Festive Overture.” An undoubted highlight is guest soloist, pianist Lang Lang, who will romp through Prokofiev’s sprightly Piano Concerto No. 3.
“I have played this piece many times,” says Lang Lang. “I love the structure displaying colorful harmonies and percussive acoustics. It is not an easy piece technically, but I learned it when I was a teenager.”
Playing such auspicious events doesn’t raise any sign of nerves and Lang Lang keeps an even keel by enjoying the moment: “The BSO is one of the best orchestras in the world. I am always happy to work with BSO,” he says cheerfully. “I don’t really feel nervous. I just enjoy the music.”
Under the astute wave of music director and Maestro Andris Nelsons, who marks his third BSO season this year, the opening night program is familiar to Lang Lang, who grew up in China listening to classical music and what he calls “some important symphonies,” before moving to the U.S. to further his musical journey. The 34-year-old also performed with heavy metal titans Metallica, and Lang Lang says there are other rock bands he’d like to work with, too many for him to recount.
“There are more and more great bands [that] are coming up,” he enthuses without naming names or committing himself. His enthusiasm for music seems genreless: For his new album, “New York Rhapsody,” a homage to the city where he is based, he choose to work with a variety of guest artists including soul singer Andra Day, bluegrass vet Jerry Douglas, jazz giant Herbie Hancock and Jeffrey Wright, the brilliant actor known for playing the double agent in two episodes of a recent Bond reboot, and as Bill Murray’s sleuthing neighbor in “Broken Flowers.”
“I research on every piece I perform, and find the best way to collaborate with other artists,” he explains. “I did my best to match the style of each piece with the performer, and they are wonderful artists and handle the music perfectly. Music has no boundary,” adds Lang Lang. “Everyone could be a musician, I believe.”
If you go:
BSO Opening Night Gala Sept. 24 at 6 p.m.
301 Massachusetts Ave.