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Rach on

The superstar pianist Lang Lang makes his Buffalo debut Saturday. In a one-night-only event, he will be appearing with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, playing Rachmaninoff's ever-popular Piano Concerto No. 2. The Chinese-born Lang Lang is the most celebrated pianist in the world today, and his appearance here was arranged to coincide with the BPO's 75th anniversary.

The excitement is heightened because Lang Lang is currently at the center of something of a storm. Last week, entertaining at a White House dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao, he gave an effusive performance of "My Motherland," a nationalistic Chinese anthem written for a 1956 Chinese movie about the Korean War, in which the Americans are the enemy. The song, which is popular at Chinese recitals, was seen by some as anti-American and inappropriate. The White House and Lang Lang have both denied any insult.

Lang Lang is no stranger to controversy, in part because of his celebrity. He has superb recordings to his credit, and his live concerts delight listeners. Trained at the Curtis Institute by Gary Graffman, he has technique to burn. Rachmaninoff is a specialty of his, and it should be a thrill to see how he handles the beautiful Second Piano Concerto.

BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta conducts the concert, which includes the lovely, romantic "Enigma Variations" by the British composer Sir Edward Elgar. It begins at 8 p.m. Saturday at Kleinhans Music Hall.

Admission is $40 to $80. For information, call 885-5000.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman

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