Every few years the Classical Music Industry, a phantom consortium of recording companies, music magazines, orchestra directors, and managers, births a sensation who penetrates public consciousness through a gimmick (violinist Vanessa-Mae cavorting in a wet T-shirt), or a hit (Andrea Bocelli's unavoidable "Con Te Partirò"), or occasionally, actual talent.

I missed Lang Lang's last appearance with Seattle Symphony, but this Chinese pianist's solo disc Live at Carnegie Hall (Deutsche Grammophon) lives up to the hype. A fiery virtuoso, Lang blazes up and down the keyboard while remaining remarkably mindful of lyrical nuances. For his return visit, Lang traverses Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1. Apart from perfunctory orchestral Beethovenisms that bookend Chopin's sprightly melodies in the first and final movements, I really like the middle Larghetto, a deliriously romantic ballad sheathed in pillowy strings and winds.

I'm also excited by the performance of Igor Stravinsky's Petrushka. Of all Stravinsky's music, Petrushka is pretty much perfect, from the shimmering winds of the "Shrove-Tide Fair" presaging the orchestral Minimalism of John Adams to the bellicosely pounding percussion that hinges each of the ballet's four sections to the faultless orchestration and endless flow of great tunes. Keep your ears open for the sweet trumpet and drum duet, the high yet lumbering tuba solo in "Peasant with Bear," and the huffing strings of the "Coachman's Dance." Even better, someone wisely decided to present Stravinsky's superior 1947 revision, which has a harder, fuller sound than the 1911 original. CHRISTOPHER DeLAURENTI

Catch Lang Lang and the Seattle Symphony Thurs April 22 at 7:30 pm (Benaroya Hall, Third Ave and Union St, 215-4747), Fri April 23 and Sat April 24 at 8 pm as well as Sun April 25 at 2 pm (but without Lang Lang), $12-$80.


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