Serafim Smigelskiy, the cellist in the Tesla Quartet, playing alone in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Photo by Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

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

Chinese pianist Yuja Wang has forged a stellar reputation thus far founded on flashy repertoire. Her Rachmaninov is dazzling, as is her Ravel. Recently though, she has taken steps into meatier, Germanic fare, including her first forays into Beethoven. Rather than take to the nursery slopes, the first Beethoven she has chosen to tackle is the mighty Hammerklavier Sonata, surely the steepest challenge of the 32. Following Schumann's Kreisleriana, it made for a weighty Verbier recital programme which at times felt distinctly like "work in progress".

Wang isn't an extrovert performer. Her upright posture is very "correct" and she rarely leans into the keyboard. Her touch can be exceedingly light, but there's steel in her fingers too, best heard in Ravel's Scarbo – a late substitution for Brahms' First Ballade so as to effect an all ETA Hoffmann – inspired first half. Scarbo is the nightmarish goblin from Hoffmann's Nocturnal Tales who flits and pirouettes through the darkness, his horny fingernails scratching the silk bed-curtains. Here, Wang was diabolical in the best sense of the word, fearlessly hammering the repeated notes and conjuring a terrifying vision before the Will-o'-the-wisp ending where the goblin disappears in a puff of blue smoke.

Before that, Schumann's Kreisleriana had left a mixed impression. Named after Johannes Kreisler, Hoffmann's manic-depressive conductor, it's a lengthy suite of eight movements charting Kreisler's different characteristics. Feathery touches lent poetry, especially to the ruminative inner section of the second movement, but Wang had a tendency to push fast tempos faster and pedalled quite heavily. She tore into the Sehr rasch penultimate movement, cleanly articulated, and created a wonderfully veiled sound in the tripping finale.

Beethoven's Piano Sonata No.29 in B flat major pushed the boundaries of the piano's capabilities and is monumental in terms of its length, its awe-inspiring power and the challenges it sets the pianist. It is the Everest of Beethoven's sonatas and it's remarkable that Wang scaled its summits with apparent ease. Whether she plunged the work's profound depths is another matter.

She coaxed inner details in the first movement well, and the impish scherzo was played with ferocity, though it lacked crispness. Misgivings grew in the lengthy Adagio sostenuto third movement where Wang created a hushed poise, barely touching the keys, unafraid to test audibility in the Salle's vast tent. It felt fussy and exaggerated, like a Chopin nocturne stretched out to eternity. However, the fourth movement began with a ghostly, exploratory feel and she untangled the knotty fugue well, clearly articulating the different voices to make it skip and dance. Ultimately, Wang's Hammerklavier was an intrepid traversal, but lacks introspection at this early stage.

A couple of glittery encores raised audience spirits: a flashy dazzling Rondo alla Turca – a jazzy conflation of versions by Fazil Say and Arcadi Volodos – drew the biggest cheer of the night, while Wang's slinky playing of Horowitz's gaudy Carmen Variations was breathtaking.

Source: Mark Pullinger, July 28, 2016 (


Η 29χρονη διάσημη Κινέζα πιανίστρια Γιούτζα Ουάνγκ ερμηνεύει τη σύνθεση «Κραϊσλεριάνα», έργο 16, του Ρόμπερτ Σούμαν, το τρίτο και τελευταίο μέρος (Scarbo) από την απαιτητική σουίτα "Gaspard de la nuit" του Μωρίς Ραβέλ, την περίφημη Σονάτα για πιάνο αρ. 29 σε Σι ύφεση μείζονα ("Hammerklavier"), έργο 106, του Λούντβιχ βαν Μπετόβεν, και το τρίτο μέρος (Alla Turca) από τη Σονάτα αρ. 11 σε Λα μείζονα, K.331, του Βόλφγκανγκ Αμαντέους Μότσαρτ, σε διασκευή του Τούρκου πιανίστα και συνθέτη Φαζέλ Σάι. Στο ανκόρ, η Ουάνγκ χαρίζει στο κοινό της τις «Παραλλαγές Κάρμεν» του μεγάλου Ρωσο-Αμερικανού πιανίστα Βλαντίμιρ Χόροβιτς, μια σύντομη σύνθεση βασισμένη σε θέματα από την όπερα «Κάρμεν» του Ζωρζ Μπιζέ, σε μιαν ερμηνεία που – όπως γράφτηκε – κόβει την ανάσα. Το ρεσιτάλ δόθηκε στο πλαίσιο του Φεστιβάλ του Βερμπιέρ στην Ελβετία, στη Salle des Combins, στις 27 Ιουλίου 2016.

[The video was removed for "copyright reasons"]

Robert Schumann (1810-1856)

♪ Kreisleriana, Op.16 (1838)

i. Äußerst bewegt
ii. Sehr innig und nicht zu rasch
iii. Sehr aufgeregt
iv. Sehr langsam
v. Sehr lebhaft
vi. Sehr langsam
vii. Sehr rasch
viii. Schnell und spielend

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

♪ Gaspard de la nuit, M.55 (1908)

iii. Scarbo

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

♪ Piano Sonata No.29 in B flat major, Op.106 "Hammerklavier" (1817-1818)

i. Allegro
ii. Scherzo, assai vivace
iii. Adagio sostenuto. Appassionato e con molto sentimento
iv. Largo – Allegro risoluto
v. Fugue

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

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

iii. Alla Turca (Arr. Fazıl Say)

Georges Bizet (1838-1875) / Vladimir Horowitz (1903-1989)

♪ Carmen Variations (c. 1920)

Yuja Wang, piano

Switzerland, Verbier Festival, Salle des Combins, July 27, 2016

Directed by Louise Narboni

(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 Ludwig van Beethoven: Seven variations for Cello and Piano in E flat major on Mozart's "Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen" – Verbier Festival 2013

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

Maurice Ravel: Piano Concerto in G major – 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)

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

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

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.