Yuja Wang is a dazzling pianist well known to international concert hall audiences. The recipient of standing ovations for the her renditions of the concerti of Prokoviev and Rachmaninov, she now presents in solo recital some of the great chamber works of these composers plus the mystical sonata of Alexander Scriabin and several brief avant-garde études by the Hungarian György Ligeti. Her lightning technique and precision is always imbued with romance and drama, and these Russian works are filled with power and profundity. The Rachmaninov Étude-tableau works are studies with themes, a combination of abstraction and tone poem. Scriabin begins with atmosphere and concludes with rapid, noisy tremolo, which suggests bird song though he himself had insects in mind, fading into silence. I particularly enjoyed the modernity of the Ligeti studies with its strange composite rhythms, odd piano technique, and movement. Prokofiev's Eighth Piano Sonata was written in 1944, in the midst of Second World War. His characteristic angular lyricism is present as well as agitation; the middle section's smooth, dancelike tune leads to the chaotic reality of total war but a final glimmer of peace on the horizon. This very fine live concert recording, with well-selected and representative studies, is further proof of Wang's remarkable talent of interpretation and emotional depth.
What most impresses me is Yuja Wang's elegant yet energetic and flawless playing, which made the classical piano music world hail her as one of the best, if not the best pianist in our present time. She is also unconventional: almost all of her available recordings are live, and she plays lesser known (and understood) piano works. This recording is one example. Performance and audio quality are flawless. Having recordings of Rachmaninov works performed by the composer himself, and then by Horowitz and David Helfgott, I was thrilled listening to Yuja Wang's performance, but had to take a breath with Etude-Tableau op 39 #1- very fast, lots of pedal... and a new point of view to get used to. And then Ligeti...! - I only heard excerpts of his works at the conservatory (Music Appreciation and Analysis), almost never in open public recitals - that's because Ligeti's works are far from being everybody's "cup of tea". Also Scriabin and Prokofiev are not always easy to understand for the average audience. This makes this recording something unique (and prompted me to buy it), but it may cause a disappointment to some. Therefore my recommendation: Sample the mp3 or watch the video of this recital on YouTube first. Like it? Congrats! This recording will be a valuable addition to your collection.
What a happy person. She is so confident and plays so well, and by memory! Something I could never do. I just love watching her. The cd is wonderful, in fact, all of her cds are wonderful. Close yours eyes, reach in and grab one, it won't matter which one you choose, they are all great. She is a phenom. I would love to meet her sometime, spend a day with her. I wish her nothing but success. She truly is a giant musician, so talented. She deserves everything she has. We are so lucky to have her in this world. Yuja Wang--Queen of the Performers.
The very beautiful and gifted pianist Yuja Wang presented a brilliant solo recital this year in Berlin at the Philharmonie and this recital was recorded live. For the main works on her well selected and challenging program she offer Rachmaninov's Prelude in G Minor No. 5, Ligeti’s Etudes pour piano No. 9, Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No 8, and Scriabin’s Piano Sonata No 19.
Following the completion of the scheduled works she offered four astonishingly well performed encores – and more than likely the audience wanted more!
The four encores are Kapustin’s Toccatina from the Eight Concert Studies for Piano, Schumann’s The Smuggler from his Spanish Romance, Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Four Swans form Swan Lake and Prokofiev’s Precipitato from his Piano Sonata No. 7.
Each is performed with Yuja’s infamous dexterity and style and make for a very sample of her gifts. Highly recommended – in addition to the other recording of the live performance of the scheduled works. Grady Harp, December 18