Top Ten Performances of 2014

New York Classical Review
By George Grella and Eric C. Simpson
December 27, 2014

Top Performance of 2014

If this list had been compiled just a week earlier, Goerne and Eschenbach would have occupied this spot; for almost nine months, nothing could touch them. Then along came Yuja Wang–with Daniil Trifonov performing just two nights earlier, it was far from a safe bet that she’d give even the best piano recital at Carnegie Hall that week, let alone one of the best piano recitals New York has heard in recent memory. Her technically flawless and musically inspired Schubert and Scriabin confirmed her as a major artist, silencing anyone who still writes her off as a flash in the pan. (ES)

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Carnegie Recital Review

New York Classical Review
By Eric C. Simpson
December 12, 2014

Carnegie Recital Review

Just as there are five-alarm fires, there are five-encore recitals, and New York got one on Thursday night.

If Yuja Wang hadn’t already “arrived” as a major pianist, then it’s safe to say that her recital at Carnegie Hall was a moment that made her arrival manifest. Anyone who still discounts her as a serious artist because of her congenial sartorial tendencies would have been stunned into silence—or, more likely, frenzied applause—by this mature performance.

An element of unexplained delayed gratification didn’t hurt—the house lights didn’t come down until about ten minutes after the scheduled time, and Wang herself didn’t materialize for another five minutes after that. The playing that followed was worth waiting for.

The first half was all Schubert (more or less), beginning with three of Liszt’s lieder transcriptions. The first two were from Schwanengesang; there was beautiful, impressionistic blurring in the left hand in “Liebesbotschaft” and colorful, spirited passion in “Aufenthalt.” “Der Müller und der Bach,” the penultimate song from Die Schöne Müllerin, had a warm glow. In all three, she played with enormous sensitivity, as though she were accompanying a singer.

Not everyone would have agreed with her take on Schubert’s A-Major Sonata, D959. At times in the early part of the Allegro she was stormy and slightly over-aggressive in her touch, almost straying into Beethoven territory. Yet Wang convinced even through the bluster, with the music’s indispensable charm always evident.

In the Andantino she had a perfect grasp of that quintessentially Schubertian mix of pining sadness and soft-eyed nostalgia. The main subject seemed to float out of the piano. More hazy introspection characterized the trio of the third movement, while the scherzo was lively, even if fractionally too heavy. The closing rondo was played with smiling grace.

Wang’s Scriabin selections were, remarkably, even better than her Schubert. If you weren’t watching, you’d have had no clue that the first Prelude, Op. 9, No. 1, was for the left hand alone. Her voicing was impeccable, her musicality gorgeous. Nothing in this recital ever felt cramped, and the Prelude in F-sharp Minor (Op. 11, No. 8), glittering and spacious, was no exception.

She changed tack with the Two Poems, Op. 63, pungent tones and creeping textures serving to counter the honeyed sonority of everything that had come before. The “Black Mass” Sonata was a dizzying spiral into delirium, its insistent, distracted madness terrifying to hear.

Wang finished the printed program with a gymnastic, crackling performance of Mily Balakirev’s Islamey. This piece is a whirlwind crowd-pleaser, and Wang’s performance was flashy, but not showy—even at its breathless tempo it seemed to breathe, as she showed off an endless range of expression.

The sheer variety Wang showed off in this recital was astounding, drawing on a prismatic array of colors to bring rich understanding to every work she touched. What’s more, her pacing was just about miraculous—not a single moment in the nearly two-and-a-half hours seemed rushed or drawn out; everything was “just right,” unfolding in its own logical time.

As for those five encores, this wasn’t one of those self-congratulatory parades that often follow recitals. Wang’s extras were worth the half hour they added, all tastefully chosen and brilliantly performed.

The Tausig transcription of Schumann’s “Der Kontrabandiste” had an icy shimmer, while humor and fireworks characterized Horowitz’s Carmen Variations. Chopin’s Waltz in C-sharp minor could easily have made for a graceful end to the evening, but she opted instead to send everyone out grinning with a sparkling rendition of Art Tatum’s jazzy retooling of Vincent Youmans’ Tea for Two.

Best of all was the second, Liszt’s transcription of Schubert’s seminal lied, Gretchen am Spinnrade, which even outshone the programmed transcriptions on the first half. While other performers get cute with their rubato and skew the delicate arabesque accompaniment, there was no such fussing here. Wang treated this transcription like a serious piece of music, and it was spellbinding, heartbreaking, breathtaking as a result. The ethereal murmur of her left hand was matched by the pleading, ghostly phrasing of the melody in her right. If you had run onstage to see whether Christa Ludwig was hiding in the piano, no one would have blamed you.

Von einem anderen Stern: Die chinesische Pianistin Yuja Wang im Konzerthaus

By Daniel Ender
Published: Oct 13, 2014

Wien – Pianisten gibt es bekanntlich wie Sand am Meer, und während alle Welt exzellente Musiker hervorbringt, kommen solche mit besonders stupender Technik mit schöner Regelmäßigkeit aus dem Reich der Mitte. Der Markt schreit nach immer neuen Attraktionen, und er bekommt sie auch.

Yuja Wang ist eine 27-jährige Chinesin mit allen erwartbaren staunenswerten Eigenschaften. Aber sie ist keine Sensation. Sie ist ein Wunder. Ihre Virtuosität würde nach Superlativen schreien. Bei ihrem Recital im Konzerthaus demonstrierte sie ihre diesbezüglichen Fähigkeiten freilich erst am Ende mit Balakirews “Islamej”-Fantasie und den ersten Zugaben. Doch nicht nur ihre ebenso unbegreifliche wie unbeschreibliche Technik ist wie von einem anderen Stern, vermittelt sie doch den Eindruck, als hätte sie das Klavierspiel einfach mal schnell neu erfunden. Vor allem verfügt sie über eine selbstverständliche Leichtigkeit gegenüber den größten pianistischen Herausforderungen, die es ihr erlaubt, noch die rasendsten Kaskaden filigran dahinhuschen zu lassen und zart zu gestalten.

Klangsinn in der doppelten Bedeutung des Wortes bewies sie im gesamten, ambitionierten und überaus gewichtigen Programm. In drei Liedern (in der Liszt’schen Bearbeitung) von Schubert und dessen großer A-Dur-Sonate D 959 stimmte praktisch alles: ein harmonisch ausbalancierter Klang, ein singendes Legato, perlende, doch nie oberflächliche Geläufigkeit, vor allem aber eine interpretatorische Unmittelbarkeit, die in jedem Augenblick zu entstehen schien. Und auch die kluge Auswahl von Werken Skrjabins von Preludes bis zur 9. Sonate (“Schwarze Messe”) war von funkelnder expressiver Kraft.

Yuja Wang verfügt über Spontaneität, Reife und Tiefe, die manche der ganz großen Namen in den Schatten stellen könnte. Schwindelerregend indes auch ihr Konzertkalender. Dass jemand in einer solchen Gedrängtheit so gelöst und vollendet spielen kann – auch das bereits ein Wunder.

Living the Classical Life

In conversation with Zsolt Bognár
Elyria Pictures
Filmed in New York, January 2014

Living the Classical Life

St. Prex Classics Festival with Gautier Capuçon

Les Films Jack Fébus in association with Mezzo & RTS
August, 2013

Post by GAD.

Salonen leads Yuja Wang, L.A. Phil through Russian turmoil

Los Angeles Times
By Mark Swed
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Telva Magazine interview

Spain, May 2014

Telva Interview

Marie Claire China interview

Beijing, May 2014

Marie Claire Interview

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In conversation with Jesús Ruiz Mantilla, EL PAIS & Javier del Pino, “A vivir que son dos días”.
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El País Interview

BTV Salzkammergut Interview

Published Apr 28,2014
Filmed in Gmunden, July 2013

BTV Salzkammergut Interview;sts11308,4445