Krzysztof Penderecki

Krzysztof Penderecki
Krzysztof Penderecki (1933-2020) conducting his oratorio "Seven Gates of Jerusalem" at the Winter Palace, St Petersburg, in 2001. Photo by Dmitry Lovetsky

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Sergei Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.2 in G minor – Yuja Wang, Berliner Philharmoniker, Paavo Järvi

Her mother wanted to make a dancer out of her. But Yuja Wang knew that only one part of her could dance: her fingers. The Chinese pianist's fingers fly over the piano keys with breath-taking speed. In May 2013, Yuja Wang proved in her debut recital with the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation that – besides stupendous technique – she also has an extraordinary feeling for tonal nuance. She performs here with the Philharmoniker as a soloist for the first time – with Sergei Prokofiev's Second Piano Concerto, in which virtuoso brilliance is combined with musical depth. Paavo Järvi conducts this concert.


Sergei Prokofiev set to work on his Piano Concerto No.2 in G minor, Op.16, in 1912 and completed it in 1913. But this concerto is lost; the score was destroyed in a fire following the Russian Revolution. Prokofiev reconstructed the work in 1923, two years after finishing his Third Concerto, and declared it to be "so completely rewritten that it might almost be considered [Concerto] No.4"; indeed its orchestration has features that clearly postdate the 1921 concerto. Performing as solo pianist, Prokofiev premiered this surviving "No.2" in Paris on 8 May 1924 with Serge Koussevitzky conducting. It is dedicated to the memory of Maximilian Schmidthof, a friend of Prokofiev's at the St. Petersburg Conservatory who had killed himself in 1913.

The work is scored for piano solo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum, snare drum, cymbals, tambourine and strings. It consists of four movements lasting some 29 to 37 minutes.

The work is dedicated to the memory of Maximilian Schmidthof, a friend of Prokofiev's at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, who had committed suicide in April 1913 after having written a farewell letter to Prokofiev. Sergei Prokofiev premiered the work that same year, performing the solo piano part, on August 23 at Pavlovsk. Most of the audience reacted intensely. The Concerto's wild temperament left a positive impression on some of the listeners, whereas others were opposed to the jarring and modernistic sound ("To hell with this futurist music!", "What is he doing, making fun of us?", "The cats on the roof make better music!").

When the original orchestral score was destroyed in a fire following the Russian Revolution, Prokofiev reconstructed and considerably revised the concerto in 1923; in the process, he made the Concerto, in his own words, "less foursquare" and "slightly more complex in its contrapuntal fabric". The finished result, Prokofiev felt, was "so completely rewritten that it might almost be considered [Concerto] No.4". (The Third Concerto had premiered in 1921). He premiered this revised version of the Concerto in Paris on May 8, 1924 with Serge Koussevitzky conducting.

It remains one of the most technically formidable piano concertos in the standard repertoire. Prokofiev biographer, David Nice, noted in 2011: "A decade ago I'd have bet you there were only a dozen pianists in the world who could play Prokofiev's Second Piano Concerto properly. Argerich wouldn't touch it, Kissin delayed learning it, and even Prokofiev as virtuoso had got into a terrible mess trying to perform it with Ansermet and the BBC Symphony Orchestra in the 1930s, when it had gone out of his fingers".


Η διάσημη Κινέζα πιανίστρια Γιούτζα Ουάνγκ ερμηνεύει το Κοντσέρτο για πιάνο αρ. 2 σε Σολ ελάσσονα, έργο 16, του Σεργκέι Προκόφιεφ. Τη Φιλαρμονική του Βερολίνου διευθύνει ο σπουδαίος Αμερικανοεσθονός μαέστρος Πάαβο Γιέρβι. Η συναυλία δόθηκε στη Philharmonie Berlin στις 16 Μαΐου 2015.

Ο Σεργκέι Προκόφιεφ συνέθεσε τα δύο πρώτα κοντσέρτα του για πιάνο ενώ ακόμη σπούδαζε στο Ωδείο της Αγίας Πετρούπολης. Το Δεύτερο Κοντσέρτο, αφιερωμένο στη μνήμη του στενού φίλου του, Maximilian Schmidthof, ο οποίος είχε αυτοκτονήσει τον Απρίλιο του 1913, γράφτηκε αρχικά την περίοδο 1912-1913. Το χειρόγραφο χάθηκε στη διάρκεια της Οκτωβριανής Επανάστασης κι ο Προκόφιεφ αναγκάστηκε να το ανασυνθέσει από μνήμης το 1923. Τον Αύγουστο του 1913, η πρεμιέρα του καινοτόμου έργου που περιορίζει την ορχήστρα σε ρόλο απλού συνοδού, ενώ απαιτεί από τον πιανίστα μια – τεχνικά δυσκολότατη – επίδειξη δεξιοτεχνίας, ήταν επεισοδιακή: Κοινό και κριτικοί είχαν διχαστεί και κάποιοι είχαν αποχωρήσει, μιλώντας απαξιωτικά για «φουτουριστική μουσική». Η ιστορία αποκατέστησε το Κοντσέρτο για πιάνο αρ. 2 σε Σολ ελάσσονα, έργο 16, του Προκόφιεφ, καταχωρίζοντάς το στα αριστουργήματα του πιανιστικού ρεπερτορίου.


Το Κοντσέρτο για πιάνο αρ. 2 σε Σολ ελάσσονα, έργο 16, του Σεργκέι Προκόφιεφ, είναι γραμμένο για σόλο πιάνο, 2 φλάουτα, 2 κλαρινέτα, 2 φαγκότα, 2 κόρνα, 2 τρομπέτες, 3 τρομπόνια, τούμπα, τύμπανα, μπάσο τύμπανο, ταμπούρο, κύμβαλα, ντέφι και έγχορδα. Η διάρκεια του έργου κυμαίνεται συνήθως μεταξύ 29 και 37 λεπτών.

[The video is unavailable]

Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)

♪ Piano Concerto No.2 in G minor, Op.16 (1912-1913)

i. Andantino
ii. Scherzo. Vivace
iii. Intermezzo. Allegro moderato
iv. Finale. Allegro tempestoso


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

♪ Piano Sonata No.11 in A major, K.331 (c. 1783)

iii. Alla Turca (Turkish March) (Arr. Arcadi Volobos / Yuja Wang)

Yuja Wang, piano

Berliner Philharmoniker
Conductor: Paavo Järvi

Philharmonie Berlin, May 16, 2015

(HD 720p)

Yuja Wang was born in Beijing on February 10, 1987, and encouraged at a young age to make music by her dancer mother and percussionist father, starting the never-ending thirst for knowledge that has sustained her musical development. Yuja began piano lessons at the age of six and her progress was accelerated by studies at Beijing's Central Conservatory of Music. In 1999 she moved to Canada to participate in the Morningside Music summer programme at Calgary's Mount Royal College and thereafter enrolled as the youngest ever student at Mount Royal Conservatory. Wang's exceptional gifts were widely recognised in 2001 with her appointment as a Steinway Artist, and again the following year when she was offered a place at Philadelphia's prestigious Curtis Institute of Music where she studied with Gary Graffman.

By the time Yuja graduated from the Curtis Institute in May 2008, she had already gathered momentum following the spectacular success of her debut three years earlier with the National Arts Center Orchestra in Ottawa. Wang attracted widespread international attention in March 2007 when she replaced Martha Argerich on short notice in performances of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No.1 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and within the span of just a few seasons she was working with conductors of the highest calibre. Over the past ten years of her career, she has worked with such pre-eminent Maestros as Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Valery Gergiev, Michael Tilson Thomas, Antonio Pappano, Charles Dutoit, and Zubin Mehta.

In January 2009 Yuja Wang became an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon recording artist. Her debut album, Sonatas & Etudes, prompted Gramophone to name her as its 2009 Young Artist of the Year. Her 2011 release of Rachmaninov's Second Concerto and Paganini Rhapsody with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Claudio Abbado was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo category. Subsequent releases for the yellow label include Fantasia, an album of encore pieces by Albéniz, Bach, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Saint-Saëns, Scriabin, and others; a live recording of Prokofiev's Concertos Nos. 2 and 3 with Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, and an acclaimed coupling of Ravel's two piano concertos with Fauré's Ballade, recorded with the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich and Lionel Bringuier. Reviewers around the world have documented the full range of Wang's work, capturing the essence of her musicianship and observing the development of an artist blessed with consummate technical prowess, an inexhaustible creative imagination, and an unmatched stamina.

She was recently described by the New York Times as "one of the best young pianists around" and hailed by the Sydney Morning Herald for her "blistering technique". In July 2015 the Los Angeles Times declared: "Hers is a nonchalant, brilliant keyboard virtuosity that would have made both Prokofiev (who was a great pianist) and even the fabled Horowitz jealous". The combination of critical acclaim, audience ovations, return engagements at leading international venues, and an exclusive recording relationship with Deutsche Grammophon confirm the 29-year old pianist's status as one of this century's most compelling artists.

The international reach and artistic breadth of Yuja Wang's 2016-2017 schedule reflects the strong demand for her work. She unveils her new season in the summer of 2016 with a run of recitals, chamber concerts and concerto performances at the Salzburg, Wolftrap, Tanglewood, Verbier and Baltic Sea festivals including collaborations with Matthias Goerne, Leonidas Kavakos, Lionel Bringuier, Gustavo Gimeno and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Following her initial NCPA residency concerts, Wang embarks on an extensive recital tour of China and Japan in September before traveling to the United States to open the Philadelphia Orchestra's season with three performances of Chopin's Piano Concerto No.2 in partnership with Yannick-Nézet-Séguin.

Yuja's way of making music connects with a strikingly broad audience. It appeals to everyone, from newcomers to the concert hall to devoted pianophiles, and has attracted an exceptionally youthful following. Her love for fashion, recently recognised by her induction into Giorgio Armani's Sì Women's Circle, has also contributed to the popular appeal of an artist who is armed with the ability to challenge convention and win fresh converts to classical music. She is set to broaden her audience throughout the 2016-2017 season, not least through her term as Artist-in-Residence at China's National Centre for the Performing Arts as well as the Konserthuset in Stockholm. The Beijing-born pianist returns to her home city in August for the first of six specially curated concerts at the NCPA, where she will explore programmes of Romantic and 20th-century repertoire in solo, chamber, and orchestral concerts. Her time in Stockholm will be filled by chamber music with Leonidas Kavakos, Bartok with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and Maestro Sakari Oramo as well as a recital programme.

Other bold highlights of Yuja Wang's 2016-2017 season include a nine-concert Asian tour with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Michael Tilson Thomas; performances of Ravel's Piano Concerto in G with the London Symphony Orchestra and Gianandrea Noseda at New York's Lincoln Center and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and an extensive spring tour of Europe with the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Antonio Pappano. In December she joins forces with percussionist Martin Grubinger for concerts in Vienna, Munich, Zurich, and Tel Aviv, and marks the new year with extensive recital tours of Europe and the United States with violinist Leonidas Kavakos. Wang will also undertake a major solo European recital tour in March and April, complete with concerts in Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, Vienna and London, and many other cities.

Over the next season's course, Yuja will explore everything from chamber works by Beethoven and Brahms to concertos by Chopin and Shostakovich. Her profound affinity for Bartók falls under the spotlight when she explores each of the composer's three piano concertos, with performances of individual works in Beijing, Cleveland, Dallas, Guangzhou, Stockholm, Taiwan and Toronto, and of the complete set with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and Gustavo Dudamel over two consecutive weeks in May and June.


More photos

See also

Gautier Capuçon and Yuja Wang play Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergei Rachmaninov and Astor Piazzolla – Verbier Festival 2013 (HD 1080p)

Frédéric Chopin: 24 Préludes, Op.28 – Yuja Wang (HD 1080p)

Béla Bartók: Piano Concerto No.1 in A major – Yuja Wang, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Esa-Pekka Salonen

Sergei Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.3 in D minor | Sergei Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.2 in G minor – Yuja Wang, Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, Gustavo Dudamel (Audio video & Download 96kHz/24bit)

George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue – Yuja Wang, Camerata Salzburg, Lionel Bringuier

George Gershwin: Piano Concerto in F major | Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.5 in D minor – Yuja Wang, London Symphony Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas

Sergei Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.2 in C minor – Yuja Wang, Verbier Festival Orchestra, Yuri Termikanov (HD 1080p)

Yuja Wang and the Art of Performance

Maurice Ravel: Piano Concertos – Yuja Wang, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Lionel Bringuier (Audio video)

Yuja Wang plays Robert Schumann, Maurice Ravel and Ludwig van Beethoven at Verbier Festival 2016

Yuja Wang, the pianist who will not go quietly

Sergei Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.3 in C major – Yuja Wang, Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Claudio Abbado

Leonidas Kavakos, violin & Yuja Wang, piano

Johannes Brahms: The Violin Sonatas – Leonidas Kavakos, Yuja Wang (Audio video)

Johannes Brahms: Sonata for piano and violin No.2 in A major – Yuja Wang, Leonidas Kavakos

Maurice Ravel: Sonata for violin and piano No.1 in A minor – Leonidas Kavakos, Yuja Wang

Ottorino Respighi: Violin Sonata in B minor – Leonidas Kavakos, Yuja Wang

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