The Chinese piano virtuoso opened Carnegie’s season with 14-year old prodigy Maxim Lando providing the left hand part.

Chinese-born virtuoso pianist Lang Lang had an ingenious solution to the difficulties posed by the ongoing inflammation in his left hand when he played at Carnegie Hall’s annual gala on Wednesday – co-opt a young protégé to lend a (left) hand.

After injuring himself in April while practicing Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand, Lang Lang took a complete, three-month break from performance and is only now starting to build up his left hand practice to around half an hour a day. But for some time he had been slated to play at Carnegie Hall’s celebrated Opening Night Gala – an event he was unwilling to miss. To solve the dilemma, Lang Lang borrowed the left hand of another pianist: 14-year-old protegé Maxim Lando.

The young US pianist, who is a graduate of the Lang Lang International Music Foundation’s Young Scholars Program, played the part of Lang Lang’s left hand in a two-piano arrangement of George Gershwin’s classic Rhapsody in Blue, with jazz great Chick Corea on the other instrument. Lando has now played more than 15 times in Carnegie Hall since his debut performance there at the age of six. It’s not the first time he has played in this unusual manner either – in September, he was Lang Lang’s left hand man for Rhapsody in Blue for concerts with the Vancouver and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras.

“I love that [Lang Lang] came up with the idea to perform as a duo, while giving his left arm time to heal. It was a risk, but I think it turned out that playing the Gershwin together worked really well artistically — maybe it even offered a new way to hear this great music,” said Lando in an email to New York’s classical radio station WQXR.

At the Carnegie Hall gala, the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin also played Bernstein’s On the Waterfront suite and the Symphonic Dances from his West Side Story.