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YUJA WANG

Critical Acclaim for the Artist


No one can say exactly where Yuja Wang's career might take her. What we can say is that she's the real
thing: an artist of precocious insight, astonishing technique, and amazing talent.
-David Gordon Duke, The Vancouver Sun, May 14, 2010
It's extremely unlikely that the piece has been written Yuja Wang can't play. For her, there is no
repertoire too steep to conquer. The technique is simply off the charts. That all this piano brawn emanates
from the elfin frame of a 23-year-old recent Curtis Institute of Music graduate somehow multiplies the
wonder.
I was particularly taken with the way she handled a section of Mendelssohnian lightness; a machine
gun of feathers couldn't have kept pace with Wang. She wisely told you which notes were important in a
slow section that only obliquely refers to the melody.
Hands blurred in the Yuja Wang take on Volodos' arrangement of Mozart's "Turkish March." For any
listener who remembers Horowitz as the supreme being in repertoire of this kind, here was his heir. She
was, in this one piece, as a goddess.
-Peter Dobrin, The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 30, 2010
The evenings most breathtaking moments were provided by the pianist Yuja Wang...the petite Ms.
Wang played the works lighter sections with a perky bounce that brightened Prokofievs acidic scoring
and left you entirely unprepared for the hall-filling power and virtuosity she brought to the first and last
movement cadenzas. She seems to have everything: speed, flexibility, pianistic thunder and interpretive
nuance.
-Allan Kozinn, The New York Times, October 14, 2009
As well as stunning technique she has a fabulous range of sonority and colour. She is also very
comfortable with extremes of dynamic and expression, and this gives her playing a striking intensity.
-Tim Parry, BBC Music Magazine, July 2009
Wang is a phenomenal pianist, a thrilling musician, a stunningly original interpreter and, not to
overstate the case one iota, probably a genius.
-Lawrence B. Johnson, The Detroit News, October 25, 2008
The arrival of Chinese-born pianist Yuja Wang on the musical scene is an exhilarating and unnerving
development. To listen to her in action is to re-examine whatever assumptions you may have had about
how well the piano can actually be played.
-Joshua Kosman, The San Francisco Chronicle, February 12, 2008

YUJA WANG
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It takes chutzpah to program Lizst's B Minor Piano Sonata on your Kennedy Center debut recital.
Chutzpah, and raw talent. Yuja Wang, a 20-year-old Chinese pianist, has both in abundance
-Anne Midgette, The Washington Post, January 28, 2008
To hear an artist so extravagantly gifted on every front is to realize how much compromise is usually
involved in hearing even the most impressive virtuosos.
-Joshua Kosman, The San Francisco Chronicle, April 20, 2007
Her playing overall was musical without being mannered, her phrasing lithe, and her articulation
exceptionally clean across the acres of rapid passagework. She found some unusual colors in the firstmovement cadenza and one can imagine her interpretative voice growing more distinctive with time.
-Jeremy Eichler, The Boston Globe, March 9, 2007
She is a wisp of a girl, with smallish hands and loose brown hair spilling all over her face as she flings
herself from one end of the keyboard to the other. But the sinewy power, stamina and agility she brought
to Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 2 belied her modest appearance.
-John von Rhein, The Chicago Tribune, March 24, 2007
Too quickly, everyone compares her with her countryman, Lang Lang. This is a profound mistake.
Lang Lang, as gifted as he is, is becoming more and more a technical firebrand; Yuja Wang is a
musician. The former proposes a show of fingers; the second delivers a work with all of its poetry. This
doesnt mean to say that this young girl of 18 years doesnt have the virtuosity of the former; beyond
that, she builds it (the virtuosity) on flexible musical lines.
-Jean-Jacques Van Vlasselaer, Le Droit, February 15, 2005

YUJA WANG
Limelight Magazine April 12, 2014

Yuja Wang: Managing the piano, conductors and the laundry


BY CLIVE PAGET

The 27-year-old Chinese piano star talks about her influences, standing in for Argerich and doing her own
laundry.
Its great to talk! Where are you, out of curiosity?
I just flew into Toronto from New York this morning. I played a Chinese New Year Concert last night in the Lincoln
Center.
And did that go well?
... ah, yeah for one run-through [laughs]
May I ask about your childhood? Your mother is a dancer. Were you ever tempted to follow her?
Well, she wanted me to be a dancer but I was too lazy to move around. [laughs] But we did have a piano at home and I
guess I was just more interested.
Who first taught you piano?
Nobody really, it was just one of the hobbies that my mother tried to educate me in. There was dancing, calligraphy,
painting shed always take me to the dance rehearsals. And I liked the listening more than the watching so I started to
try to play things on the piano. It was just fun at first nothing really professional at all until I had this teacher for
seven years in China.
So who was the first pianist you really listened to?
There were three: Pollini, Rubinstein and Evgeny Kissin. I remember it very clearly because I didnt hear any other
piano playing until I was 11 or 12. They were the first three things I heard.
And was that listening at home?
Yeah, they were on CD. And then I heard Pogorelic and Berman in live concerts in China.
Do you have piano role models yourself?

Yuja Wang
Limelight Magazine April 12, 2014
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Not really. I mean, I get really inspired when I hear an amazing concert. But mostly I go to symphonic concerts. I like
watching the conductor and listening to the sounds they create. Pianist-wise, right now I really like Sokolov and
Pletnev, and Im a big fan of Keith Jarrett and of course Horowitz, but I never heard him live.
Funnily enough you have quite a lot of repertoire in common with Horowitz. Theres a definite similarity.
Yeah, well my teacher at Curtis [Institute of Music] who I studied with for six years thats Gary Graffman he was
Horowitzs student.
Ah, so youre a student of a student of Horowitz?
[laughs] I guess you can say that.
So how did you know that you might have a chance of an international career? Was there a point where you
thought, this might be for me?
No, I never really thought of it. My hobby just became my profession, I guess. You know, I feel pretty jobless right
now as a normal person. I did have concerts even half a year after I started piano as something for fun and so I
guess the performance aspect was integrated into anything I learned.
And how old were you then?
I was seven.
And was that in Beijing?
Yes. But actually, the first country I came to out of China was Australia! I remember I was seven and I went to
Australia for 12 days and then I was in Paris for a week.
And you played in Perth?
Yes, I played about seven of Haydns sonatas and some Chinese music.
So that was your Australian debut?
[laughs] Yeah.
Have you been back here since then?
No, never.
Any plans?
I think so, but I cant say right now
So you grew up in Beijing and then you went to study in Philadelphia aged 14. Was that a big change for you?

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Limelight Magazine April 12, 2014
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Not really. The transition was pretty smooth because I was in Canada for a year where I learned the language. And
even when I was at home I was pretty much always alone. I had a teacher that I really trusted, but then I was practicing
alone, going to school alone, so I didnt really feel lonely when I moved. The only difference was the food and laundry.
You mean that you had to do them yourself?
Exactly. They were two things I had to take care of myself that Id never thought of before and it was almost like fun
because Id never made dinner before Id just been curious. That age, like 14 or 15 was almost the perfect age to be
away from home. Ive been in America from then until I graduated from Philadelphia at 21 and moved to New York.
And you live in NY now?
Yeah, but Im hardly there. I just have a base there.
You made your European debut back in 2003 playing with David Zinmann and the Tonhalle. Which conductors
have been most important for you?
Thereve been some memorable conductors. But the one thats really sad to mention right now is Claudio Abbado. I
was so lucky to play under him.
That extraordinary Prokofiev Ive seen it!
Thanks. Actually my first concerto recording was with him which I will say doesnt get any better. And theres
Gustavo Dudamel but its a completely different generation and feel playing with him.
How would you describe the differences between working with Abbado and Dudamel? It was Prokofiev with
both of them, wasnt it?
Gustavo is very high energy we match pretty well. And his orchestra in Venezuela is just amazingly high-voltage
really involved and really great ensemble playing. He is Claudios prodigy. Theres this way of constant listening and a
constant awareness of each other, and that makes it much more powerful the unity of the sound and everything. And
his really fast reflexes for a soloist is just amazing.
And how was Abbado to work with?
Really obscure and mysterious during rehearsals because he didnt say a word to me at least. And then in the
concert, everything just came out. You dont really know what happens with the gestures or the energy field. There was
something intangible in concerts. He made everyone play his or her best and thats something very special without
even talking, without any words. He also had this intimidating way of such intense listening. I so wanted to experience
that again because you only can know through playing music with him.
Nowadays you take top billing but early on you made some very notable replacements, standing in for Radu
Lupu on one occasion and Martha Argerich on another. Was that difficult for you, just because of the
expectation of someone elses performance?
No, I think I was too young and so I was pretty fearless! Its a kind of a clich to be the young one replacing the master.
I pretty much replaced everybody from Yefim Bronfman, Murray Perahia and Kissin even. Of course Martha and Radu

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Limelight Magazine April 12, 2014
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Lupu were the most famous. Lupu was the first one in Canada with Zukerman conducting Beethoven Four. It makes
one look at life differently, because everything is based on chance. I was really fortunate, in terms of repertoire choices,
and I was just so ready at that age. Not exactly the playing, but just ready to just go on stage and be all passionate.
With Martha it was like, Im tired do you want to play with the Boston Symphony for me? And Im like of
course! Wrong question! [laughs] That was exciting for a while. Every day you dont know whats happening. Then
the next week it would be, Murray Perahia has cancelled a tour with St Martins-in-the-Fields, and you play Mozart?
Also I had the ability to learn pieces fast even a piece I didnt play. I just focused myself so it was a way of learning
repertoire as well. If you wanted me to do that now it would take a lot of asking!
So does that mean that as you get older, the expectations make your job more difficult in a sense?
No, I think everything is more difficult when one gets older expectations from others and from myself to be more
creative not to repeat myself. I guess my biggest competitor is probably myself from before. Its good and theres so
much potential there, but to realise that potential, to actualise it, it needs so much work. And at the same time there are
so many concerts so Im trying just to cope with everything with travelling, and just being centred with oneself. Its
difficult.
Youve got a reputation for tackling really big 20th-century works. As a young player, how do you build up the
physical strength for that kind of repertoire?
Its actually easier for me, and more fun for me, to play the Rach Three, the Prokofiev Two the ones that I just
recorded because the pieces are so physical. Theres a visceral thing that happens on stage that makes me abandon
myself. Its not as subtle and intellectualising as Beethoven, or even playing Debussy or Chopin. Its easier to let
oneself go on stage with Rach Three and pieces like that.
I remember the first time I heard you play Stravinskys Three Pieces from Petrushka. The only person that Ive
heard play it with that strength of technique is Pollini. Does that require actual physical strength do you go to
the gym? How do you get that sound?
Well, Pollini really was a big influence. I know his CD he also plays Pierre Boulez and Webern and Prokofievs
Seventh Sonata. I really adore it. I think its probably just the way we are trained or brought up how we want our
sound because everyone has their personal sound. I change over time I notice, but even with different pianos, every
pianist has their own fingerprints almost. Pollini has a really clean-cut, crystal clear transparent sound. Maybe it has to
do simply with the shape of the hand, because everyone is different. Im not quite sure, but thats a big compliment,
thank you.
Youve been recording Rachmaninov and Prokofiev a lot lately. Obviously theyre important composers to you.
Are there other composers that you feel are close to your heart?
I recorded those composers because I feel Im confident enough now to record them. But Prokofiev, I feel very close to
because hes really naughty and sarcastic with all those really edgy, saucy colours. It changes over time, but I often feel
I like Stravinsky and sometimes I love Brahms. Actually, when I really just want to be moved I listen to Schubert.
And what do you plan to record next?

Yuja Wang
Limelight Magazine April 12, 2014
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I just did Brahms, actually. Brahms Violin Sonatas with Leonidas Kavakos. Its coming out really soon on Decca. And
that will be my first chamber disc.
Yuja Wang plays Prokofiev and Rachmaninov with Gustavo Dudamel and Brahms Sonatas on Deutsche
Grammophon and is available from Thomas Music.

YUJA WANG
Cleveland Plain Dealer April 11, 2014

Cleveland Orchestra, pianist Yuja Wang conspire on dynamic night


of Russian favorites (review)
BY ZACHARY LEWIS

Were the Sultans wife of fiction to visit Severance Hall this week, shed also get to live another night. For she would
gain another rousing tale to tell.
Performing key works from the Russian canon Thursday, including Scheherazade, the Cleveland Orchestra under
Giancarlo Guerrero sounded as vital as can be. Pianist Yuja Wang, however, took things a few steps further, rendering
a brilliant evening magical.
Start with Scheherazade, the musical home of the aforementioned Sultan. Practically tailor-made for Guerrero,
principal guest conductor of the orchestras Miami residency, Rimsky-Korsakovs four-part suite based on The
Arabian Nights flourished under his watch, emerging Thursday in all its hazy, swashbuckling splendor.
Concertmaster William Preucil was bewitching as the pieces musical narrator, delivering one haunting account of its
central theme after another. Add to this a litany of star turns by soloists across the ensemble, whose silken, expressive
lines on flute, cello, oboe, clarinet and harp, to name just a few, conjured a novels worth of dramatic detail.
But it was the collective performance that made this Scheherazade truly notable. The Cleveland Orchestra is always
on, but with Guerrero at the helm, the group was doubly engaged, doubly dynamic, and when its in that state, its
something special indeed.
Special, meanwhile, doesnt quite suffice when it comes to Wangs performance Thursday of Rachmaninoffs Piano
Concerto No. 3. No, in that case, one must employ the word phenomenal.
Never mind that orchestra and pianist werent always in perfect synch. Not even the most alert ensemble on the planet
could have tracked such an impulsive, spring-loaded performance note for note.
Besides, it was that very unpredictability that made Wangs performance so electrifying. Her finale, for instance, was
one long thrill ride, a restless, teasing episode in which, despite knowing the music, one was never quite sure which
way the pianist was going to turn.
Much the same can be said of her Adagio. Where she actually slowed down, Wang brought forth phrases loaded with
sentiment and rich, dark beauty. Yet she was also prone to wild, poignantly timed mood swings, to raining down on a
jam-packed Severance Hall torrential volleys of sound.

Yuja Wang
Cleveland Plain Dealer April 11, 2014
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When it came to the latter, though, nothing held a candle to the first movement. Building on a soft but molten
introduction, Wang whipped herself up to a fiery frenzy and then exploded, volcano-like, with a surge of dense, hardhitting chords. To quote a popular song, she was a lightning bolt, and received thunder in response.
Virtuosity on the part of the orchestra was the main attraction in Prokofievs Classical Symphony, at the top of the
program. There again, as in Scheherazade, a host of individuals stepped favorably into the spotlight to handle a
stream of tricky, exposed passages with exquisite grace.
But plaudits are in order for Guerrero, too, for achieving and maintaining a level of delicateness far more difficult than
it sounded. Wit and lightness can be some of the most elusive traits in music, and yet both were present in abundance in
this Classical Symphony. A thousand more nights of performances like those Thursday surely would be fine by all.

YUJA WANG
Toronto Star June 13, 2013

Toronto Symphony Orchestra: Concert review


Dazzling young Chinese pianist Yuja Wang delivers Russian passion with
surgical precision in TSOs last serious program of the season.
BY JOHN TERAUDS

Wednesday nights first performance in Toronto Symphony Orchestras final serious concert program of the season at
Roy Thomson Hall was a showcase of everything this organization does right: here was great music played with
panache by a remarkably polished ensemble.
Like the majority of concerts the TSO has given this season, the results were objects of respect and, for many of the
people present, outright adoration.
Russian composers supplied the two older works. We also heard the premiere of a new work by Torontonian Kevin
Lau, the TSOs associate composer.
The star guest was young Chinese pianist Yuja Wang, who presented a dazzlingly precise interpretation of Sergei
Prokofievs Piano Concerto No. 2, which celebrates its 100th birthday this year. Wang displayed technique to burn with
almost supernatural precision, but her music-making had a human side as well. She laid out the wide dynamic and
emotional range of this popular showpiece with remarkable confidence matched nicely by music director Peter
Oundjians focused work on the podium.
The Prokofiev concerto as well as the evenings closing piece, Nikolai Rimsky Korsakovs 1888 tone poem
Scheherazade,brought the audience to its feet in prolonged, noisy ovations. Oundjian has presented Rimsky Korsakovs
musical depiction of tales from One Thousand and One Nights three or four times as TSO music director, and
Wednesday nights performance had particular lan and dynamic punch.
It bodes well for the eventual release of the recording being made of this weeks live concerts.
Lau, creator of the evenings opening work, is someone to follow. Treeship, also a sort of tone poem, made a great
bookend with Scheherazade. Both pieces tried to reach well beyond the here and now in their storytelling.
Treeship uses largely tonal language to take the orchestra and audience on a sonic voyage in search of a companion
film. Here was music with sweep as well as narrative content in its many episodes. My favourite sections came at the
beginning and end, where Lau has created a magical shimmer that was far greater than the sum of its orchestral parts.
In fact, we could say the same for this whole Toronto Symphony season.

YUJA WANG
The New York Times May 17, 2013

Restrained, Then Madly Lyrical: The Pianist as Spring Mechanism


BY ZACHARY WOOLFE

By the time the pianist Yuja Wang had played a fifth encore to cap her exhilarating concert on Thursday evening at
Carnegie Hall, I confess that while perhaps 90 percent of my attention was on her precise yet exuberant playing, a
crucial 10 was on her skintight flame-colored dress.
It seems that a high-minded, conscientious music critic should pay Ms. Wangs signature attire no mind. Enough ink,
certainly, has been spilled on the subject during her rise to prominence these past few years.
But her vivid sartorial choices are far from incidental to the formidable effect of her playing. Her alluring, surprising
clothes dont just echo the allure and surprise of her musicianship, though they certainly do that.
More crucial, the tiny dresses and spiky heels draw your focus to how petite Ms. Wang is, how stark the contrast
between her body and the forcefulness she achieves at her instrument. That contrast creates drama. It turns a recital into
a performance.
And a performance, in the fullest sense of the word, was what Thursdays program demanded. Ms. Wang offered an
immersion in the overripe afterglow of 19th-century Romanticism: sonatas by Scriabin and Rachmaninoff, and La
Valse by Ravel, all introduced by Lowell Liebermanns Gargoyles (1989), a contemporary work that neatly evoked
the fin-de-sicle decadence of the rest.
To say that Ms. Wang barnstormed through these dreamy, theatrical works is true but drastically understates her range
of expression. Her fortissimos were fearsome, but so, in a quieter way, were the longing melodic lines of the first
movement of Rachmaninoffs Sonata No. 2.
Ms. Wang began these melodies with a stiffness approaching self-consciousness before gradually relaxing into pure
lyricism, giving a sense of the musics tightening and loosening in grand cycles. Playing with daring deliberation, she
came close to disconnecting the phrases of the slow second movement. It was a move that emphasized Rachmaninoffs
incipient modernity, as did her teasing out of jazzy figurations and Debussyian kaleidoscopic textures.
The liquidity of her phrasing in the second movement of Scriabins Sonata No. 2 eerily evoked the sound of
woodwinds. In that composers Sonata No. 6 she juxtaposed colors granitic and gauzy to eerily brilliant effect before
closing the written program with a rabid rendition of the one-piano version of La Valse, accentuating the sickliness
of Ravels distorted waltzes.
By her apocalyptic finale, there was no question that the party of the 19th century was definitively over in the aftermath
of World War I. But she offered a nostalgic glimpse back in her fourth encore, Chopins Waltz in C sharp minor.
Ms. Wang returns to Carnegie on Oct. 22 with a program of Prokofiev, Stravinsky and more Chopin. Ill see you there.

YUJA WANG
San Francisco Chronicle June 19, 2012

S.F. Symphony review: Wang's awesome Rachmaninoff


BY JOSHUA KOSMAN

At this point, there's no more news to report about Yuja Wang. She is, quite simply, the most dazzlingly, uncannily
gifted pianist in the concert world today, and there's nothing left to do but sit back, listen and marvel at her artistry.
Happily for local audiences, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony were among the first to
recognize her pre-eminence, and quickly forged a relationship with her that has brought us a series of revelatory local
appearances. The latest came over the weekend, when Wang joined the orchestra in Davies Symphony Hall for a titanic
account of Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto.
There were other delights on the program on Sunday afternoon, but Wang's Rachmaninoff was clearly the headline
event. It wasn't just the fact that she made this concerto's fabled technical difficulties - its thunderous chordal writing,
its intricate passagework, its wearying length - seem easy, although that was part of it.
More remarkable still was the depth and imagination she brought to the entire score, and the way she made the piece's
virtuosic angle just one part of its purpose.
Of course, there were plenty of opportunities for showmanship, and Wang dispatched them with her customary aplomb.
The fierce keyboard explosions in the outer movements - thickets of notes, densely clustered for maximum effect - and
the quicksilvery bursts of repeated notes in the central episode of the second movement were beautifully handled.
But just as striking was Wang's ability, which Thomas and the orchestra suavely supported, to convey the lyricism and
grace of Rachmaninoff's writing. In Wang's hands, the opening theme - a simple melody in octaves brimming with
nuanced emotion and energy - sounded every bit as impressive as the finger-busting displays that ensued. For pure
finger-busting, Wang delivered a stunning encore of Vladimir Horowitz's "Carmen" Variations.
Thomas and the orchestra brought their own brand of magic to the concert's first half. It began with Faur's "Pavane,"
in a lovely, rhythmically sustained reading graced by a fragrant contribution from principal flutist Tim Day.
Even more alluring was the orchestra's sleek and strong-boned rendition of Sibelius' all-too-rarely heard Third
Symphony. Thomas seemed intent on underscoring the work's elegance and balance without letting it subside into pure
arabesque, and the orchestra followed his lead superbly.

YUJA WANG
The New York Times April 13, 2012

Star Pianist Establishes the Tempo of the Night


BY ANTHONY TOMMASINI

Philharmonic, With Jaap van Zweden Conducting Yuja Wang


If you consider how far in advance artists are booked at major American orchestras, it did not take the New York
Philharmonic long to schedule the fast-rising Dutch conductor Jaap van Zwedens debut with the orchestra , which took
place on Thursday night at Avery Fisher Hall. Mr. van Zweden, an accomplished violinist who came later to
conducting, is not widely known in America. Now 51, he has been thriving as the music director of the Dallas
Symphony Orchestra since 2008, and he brought the orchestra to Carnegie Hall last May for an impressive program as
part of the Spring for Music Festival.
Mahlers popular First Symphony was the major work he chose for his Philharmonic debut. From the dynamic, all-out
performance he conducted, it seems clear that he came to town determined to make music and make an impression. He
did both on Thursday. If the performance was sometimes too feisty and intense, it was certainly exciting.
But before the Mahler, Mr. van Zweden showed his ability to work with a young virtuoso. The pianist Yuja Wang
made her subscription series debut with the Philharmonic in this program, having twice performed with the orchestra
on the road in 2006. A technically phenomenal performer with a flair for fashion, she has become a YouTube sensation.
Ms. Wang is not above virtuosic stunts, like her hyperfast rendition of Rimsky-Korsakovs Flight of the Bumble Bee.
But at her best, she is a thoughtful musician with an ear for color, texture and harmony.
For this debut she played a signature piece: Prokofievs Third Piano Concerto, a formidably challenging Neo-Classical
work. After the tranquil orchestral introduction, Ms. Wang jumped into the main section of the bustling first movement,
tossing off the busy passagework with brio, dispatching bursts of chords and arm-blurring octaves with ease.
There were insightful musical touches in her playing, as in the grim episode with weighty chords that leads to a
contrasting playful theme. Ms. Wang punched out those chords with steely sound, while also highlighting a sly inner
voice.
Her tempos over all, especially in the finale, were brisk to the point of breathlessness. Mr. van Zweden provided
consistent backing, but sometimes rhythmic details sounded rushed and clipped. In a performance of this work with
Claudio Abbado and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, available on a EuroArts DVD, Ms. Wang takes swift tempos, but
Mr. Abbado reins her in just enough so that her playing has a little more grace and articulate rhythm. Yet Ms. Wang is
a wonder. The audience stood and cheered her.
In the Mahler Mr. van Zweden put a higher priority on musical character and dramatic impact than on flawless
execution and textured sound. In the first movement his muscular, insistent interpretation lacked the autumnal cast I
associate with this music. In the second movement, a sort of hardy scherzo, Mr. van Zweden captured the heavy-footed,
folk-dance spirit, though the playing was almost rigidly emphatic.
The slow movement, seemingly a funeral march, was very good, played with rustic character and just enough rawness
to convey the implied parody. Mahler marks the opening of the finale With violent movement, and for that, the

Yuja Wang
The New York Times April 13, 2012
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kinetic Mr. van Zweden is your man. He drew blazing playing from the orchestra, which contrasted with the dreamy
beauty of the lyrical midsection.
After the rousing brassy fanfare brought the piece to an end, the audience erupted in an ovation that rivaled Ms.
Wangs, which is saying something.

YUJA WANG
San Francisco Classical Voice April 13, 2012

Yuja's Fantasia: Quite Fantastic


BY JANOS GEREBEN

We are at the cusp of transition from one generation of pianists to another, but a name stands out as exception to clear
distinction between grand old musicians and brilliant young talent. Yuja Wang doesn't fit into either of those (arbitrary)
boxes.
At only 25, Yuja (she prefers to use her given name in second reference, the patronymic Wang not being distinctive
enough) is an old soul, and seemingly in the vanguard for a long, long time. In fact, it has been a dozen years half
her life that she has been winning international contests and hearts around the world, plus engagements with major
orchestras, so she is neither a newcomer nor a member of the ancien rgime. She is what she is, one of the finest
pianists and, importantly, musicians of our time.
And she has now produced her fourth Deutsche Grammophon CD, which is the subject of our sermon today. Fantasia
follows Sonatas & Etudes (2009), Transformation (2010), and Rachmaninov (2011).
It is a varied, capricious, collection of miniatures, just a few minutes each, the longest being a 10-minute tribute to
Mickey Mouse (please wait for the explanation). At any rate, quite a change since the large-scale collection of
Transformation.
Almost all tracks come from Yuja's large storehouse of encores; she needs many because her recital audiences
unvariably demand and almost always receive them.
Four brief Rachmaninov pieces lead the way, played with unshowy brilliance, power, and her usual complete authority
over the keyboard. The stormy tude-tableau in A Minor Op. 39 No. 6 is a grand calling card; Op. 39 No. 4 is swift,
playful; Op. 39 No. 5 has a quiet, but persistent romantic sweep.
lgie in E flat minor Op. 3 No. 1, wisely slipped in between No. 4 and No. 5, is meandering, Chopinesque, a change
from the mood shared by the tude-tableaux.
Scarlatti, a Yuja perennial, appears here only with the two-minute-long Sonata in G Major K. 455. It is an irresitible
melodic cascade of pearls, and it is over before you can catch your breath.
For contrast, the poignant Melody from Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice follows, giving way to Albniz's sweeping "Triana,"
from Iberia, Book II.
One of Yuja's heroes, Vladimir Horowitz, is responsible for two transcriptions: the Gypsy Song, from Bizet's Carmen,
and the CD-closing virtuoso Dance macabre by Saint-Sans (in Liszt's arrangement). The Carmen excerpt is marked
"White House version" because it became famous in Horowitz's televised White House concert in 1978.
There are many other cuts, including a superb collection of five Scriabin miniatures, but let's get back to Mickey
Mouse. Everybody's favorite rodent will inevitably come to mind while listening to Yuja's tempestuous The Sorcerers
Apprentice, in Victor Staub's arrangement.

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San Francisco Classical Voice April 13, 2012
page 2 of 2
There is meaning behind the selection: Disney's Fantasia, writes Shirley Apthorp, "along with a performance of Swan
Lake, was her first encounter with classical music as a child, and she always enjoys the frisson of recognition that runs
through an audience when the familiar melody emerges."
If you check the Music News column on April 17 you will find out where and how you can see the Disney Fantasia on
the big screen again in San Francisco. Meanwhile, enjoy Yuja's tribute to it.

YUJA WANG
The New York Times April 6, 2012

Talented, Eye-Catching, Unapologetic


BY VIVIEN SCHWEITZER

MAHLER and Coco Chanel are unusual bedfellows, but the pianist Yuja Wang, on her Twitter feed, quotes both: from
Mahler, Tradition is tending the flame, its not worshiping the ashes; and from Chanel, A girl should always be two
things: classy and fabulous.
Fashionable and outspoken, Ms. Wang, who at 25 is one of the most gifted pianists of her generation, would make
Mahler and Chanel equally proud. She has attracted attention both for her prodigious talents and for her attire, which
has raised eyebrows in the tradition-bound world of classical music.
Beginning on Thursday evening Ms. Wang performs Prokofievs Piano Concerto No. 3 with the New York
Philharmonic conducted by Jaap van Zweden at Avery Fisher Hall.
The Prokofiev concerto is one of her favorite pieces, she said in a recent interview backstage at the Kimmel Center in
Philadelphia, where she had just performed Rachmaninoffs Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with the Philadelphia
Orchestra and Yannick Nzet-Sguin, because it fits her edgy and kind of sarcastic and naughty personality, she said.
Ms. Wang, having changed from the elegant dark-blue gown she wore for the concert into a shorter, fitted dress and
heels, said she had hoped to record Prokofievs Sonata No. 6 for her fourth and most recent Deutsche Grammophon
disc, but that the label wanted short pieces and encores. The disc, called Fantasia, features miniatures by Chopin,
Rachmaninoff, Scarlatti and Scriabin and various arrangements.
A passionate performer, Ms. Wang meshes an impeccable technique and insightful artistry, evident both on disc and in
live concerts. Her New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall featured powerful and nuanced interpretations of Liszts
Sonata in B minor and the Prokofiev, demonstrating a crystalline touch and a wide coloristic range. Her arresting
playing has generated public and critical acclaim, although she says she doesnt read her reviews.
Music criticism should be to musicians what ornithology is to birds, she wrote recently on her Twitter feed.
Her earlier (and equally rewarding) Deutsche Grammophon releases include sonatas and tudes by Chopin, Scriabin,
Liszt and Ligeti; Rachmaninoff concertos with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Claudio Abbado; and selections by
Stravinsky, Brahms, Ravel and Scarlatti.
Until recently Ms. Wang has focused almost entirely on Romantic and 20th-century works in recordings and in solo
recitals.
Germanic repertory like Bach, Mozart and Beethoven needs much more maturity and growing as a person, she said.
I can play it for sure, but its not at the quality that I want. Everyone plays it, and if I dont bring something
meaningful to it, then I might as well not play it at all.
Born in Beijing in 1987, Ms. Wang said her mother, Zhai Jieming, a dancer, and her father, Wang Jianguo, a
percussionist, were encouraging but never dictatorial about her practicing or career. Several videos on YouTube show a
girl with pigtails playing Chopin with poise.

Yuja Wang
The New York Times April 6, 2012
page 2 of 3
My dad is really good with rhythm, Ms. Wang said, and was always correcting me and telling me, Youre rushing.
Thats my weakness. Even back then I was rushing.
After studies at the Beijing Central Conservatory, she went alone at 14 to study at the Mount Royal Conservatory in
Calgary, Alberta. I was like, Freedom! she said of being on her own. It was awesome. She entered the Curtis
Institute of Music in Philadelphia the next year, but her mother was unable to move there as planned because of visa
problems. Her parents still live in Beijing.
She has performed in China infrequently since leaving, though she will tour there in November with the San Francisco
Symphony Orchestra, led by Michael Tilson Thomas.
Speaking about the explosion of classical music in her homeland, she said, Being a classical musician is almost like
being a pop star in China, and its more about power and fame and money. Thats why so many kids are playing. Its
like sports in America. Its for being more famous, and I dont really like that. I like Europe more, as people are
genuine and its part of their culture and they love it for the music, for the sake of music, not for being famous.
Ms. Wangs own journey into the public eye came after high-profile substitutions for pianists including Martha
Argerich, Evgeny Kissin and Yefim Bronfman. Her talents have also been recognized with prizes like the Gilmore
Young Artist Award and the Avery Fisher Career Grant.
The pianist Gary Graffman, who taught Ms. Wang at Curtis, said that during her audition she impressed with her
technique. But thats no big deal these days, he added, given that even the untalented ones have practiced so much
that they play well.
Rather, he added, it was the intelligence and good taste of her interpretations that distinguished her. During the
ensuing years, Mr. Graffman said, he admired the speed at which she learned repertory, her broad range of artistic
interests, her sense of humor and her ability to produce a gorgeous sound from even second-rate instruments. She is
very self-critical, he added.
Mr. Thomas, the conductor, who has worked with Ms. Wang since she was 17, said: When I first heard her, I was
struck by how coloristic her playing is and how aware she is of the specific colors and character of the orchestra. She
will play as a soloist but also as an accompanist when important things are happening in the orchestra. That is an
unusual quality for a card-carrying virtuoso.
Certain forces within the industry, he added, would like to present her as being a hot young flashy pianist, but thats
not whats shes really like.
She is very focused and serious, he added.
Mr. Thomas said her independence was also noteworthy. Even as a teenager Ms. Wang showed up at rehearsals and
concerts alone, without the entourage of mother, teacher, manager and publicist that he said often accompanies young
artists.
Being independent at such a tender age, Ms. Wang said, prepared her for the solitary life of a star concert pianist. She
lives near Lincoln Center but is there so seldom that her doorman doesnt always recognize her.
Pianists have to be alone all the time, and its hard, said Ms. Wang, whose sociable nature is immediately apparent.
While at Curtis she found travel exciting, but its kind of like work now, she said. Its lonely.
So she spends her vacation time in New York and hangs out with friends. I love saunas. Thats my way of relaxing.
She added, laughing: Im so lazy. People ask me, What sports do you do? None. I love to read, and I have a Kindle
now.
If she didnt have a career as a pianist, Ms. Wang said, she might have opted to be a choreographer, since she loves
modern dance. Or a clothing designer, since she is interested in fashion.

Yuja Wang
The New York Times April 6, 2012
page 3 of 3
Ms. Wangs attire has generated lively discussions about what is appropriate for classical artists to wear. The orange
minidress she wore for a performance of Rachmaninoffs Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at
the Hollywood Bowl in August set off debate in newspapers and blogs.
Ms. Wang said she was initially both weirded out and amused by the reaction, noting that she had already worn the
same dress without fanfare in Santa Fe, N.M.; at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam; and at the Verbier Festival in
Switzerland. Europe loved it, she said, so she hadnt thought it would be a big deal to wear it in Los Angeles.
They were paying attention to this rather than the music, she said. Which makes sense, as L.A. is kind of superficial
and more visual. But they have rules about what classical musicians should be wearing, which I think is stupid.
Yet she acknowledged that the publicity might have helped her Carnegie debut in October sell out. For the first half of
that concert, she looked like a nun, she said, in a long black dress.
I wanted to do the shock value, she added. I can wear long and black too. I like being versatile.
The veteran artist manager Edna Landau, who advises young musicians, said: This generation is a much more visual
generation. Every artist has a responsibility to look as good as they can. Its not different than if you are going for a job
interview. Youre trying to win over fans and get more engagements, so one should look great.
The most important factor, of course, will always be a performers level of artistry, and since Ms. Wang has proved that
she has the musical goods, she can wear whatever she wants. It is no bad thing if she attracts younger listeners and
shakes up the sometimes stuffy classical music business in the process.
Ms. Wang recalled that before her Carnegie debut Mr. Thomas told her: You dont need the public. The public needs
you.
Thats how I feel, she added. I will just be myself. If they accept me, they do. If they dont, they dont. Im just
being myself. When Im 40, Im not going to wear a short dress, so I might as well do it now!

YUJA WANG
Wall Street Journal April 5, 2012

Fast Hands, Swift Rise


BY ELLEN GAMERMAN

Yuja Wang became an Internet sensation a few years ago when a video of her playing "Flight of the Bumblebee"
appeared on YouTube, her fingers moving so fast they blurred over the keys. Some viewers were so stunned, they
wondered if the video was sped up.
Ms. Wang, a 25-year-old critically acclaimed concert pianist who makes her debut at Avery Fisher Hall with the New
York Philharmonic Thursday, said she's gotten the wrong kind of attention from that videoso much so that she's
banned the frenetic piece by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov from her repertoire, kept it off her new CD and rebuffed
requests by orchestras and fans to perform the work as an encore. "I don't think that's a criteria or any standard for
being a musician," she said of her fast playing. "It's not a sport."
Her former teacher, the classical pianist Gary Graffman, praises Ms. Wang's talent and another intangible quality: "She
has something you can't really learn," he said, "and that's charisma."
For her four performances in New York, which the often-touring pianist calls home, Ms. Wang will play Prokofiev's
Piano Concerto No. 3, a physically explosive work that she points out includes many hand crossovers. "[Prokofiev]
knows exactly how to make it sound impressive, but look more impressive when you actually see it live," said Ms.
Wang, the Beijing-born child of a dancer and a percussionist. She releases her fourth CD Tuesday, "Fantasia," a
collection of 18 of her shorter, more lighthearted showpieces.
Ms. Wang, who drew notice last year for the short orange dress she wore for a Hollywood Bowl concert, sometimes
listens to pop star Rihanna before playing Prokofiev; both artists, she said, channel a raw energy. But before walking
onto the New York stage she will probably choose silence. She has been to Avery Fisher many times, but never as a
performer. "I know the hall," she said, "but only from the other side."

YUJA WANG
Seuddeutsche (Germany) November 11, 2011

With Flying Fingers


BY P. RICHTER

Yuja Wang's debut at the Munich Philharmonic


Chinas rise is far from over as evidenced by its flourishing music market and concert hall stars Lang Lang, Yundi Li,
and soon, Kit Armstrong and Yuja Wang. Yuja Wang, the 23-year-old New York based pianist from Beijing made her
debut with Zukerman and has toured under the baton of Marriner Maazel and Abbado. She recently collaborated with
Abbado on her first concerto album featuring works by Rachmaninov.
Which brings us to her debut at the Munich Philharmonic. To call it spectacular would almost be an understatement.
In the first movement of the Piano Concerto in D minor op.30 by Rachmaninov, the conductor brought a contemplative
and sweet tone to the theme. Maestro Charles Dutoit and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra accelerated the 'Andante' in
order not to fall behind the flamboyant virtuoso. With 'flying fingers' she alternated between the ecstatic piano forte,
pathos and the pale morbidezza breakdowns. The Adagio 'sang' creating a harmonious polyphony and orchestral
fullness.
In the dramatic finale, Wang was occasionally eclipsed by the volume of the orchestra, demonstrating that one must not
overestimate true virtuosity - but also that it should not be underestimated with music that draws from her life force.
With Gluck and Schubert as magical and poetic additions, Wang calmed the crowd and her own tigers. This was
followed by Dutoits gentle handling of Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony: with wonderful lyrical darkness in the
introduction, the bright Blserkantilenen in the second section,and a slightly smug 'Valse' but also with the sudden
upheaval and forte.

YUJA WANG
Los Angeles Times November 6, 2011

Music review: Yuja Wang and James Conlon with L.A.


Philharmonic
BY MARK SWED

When the Chinese pianist Yuja Wang made her Los Angeles Philharmonic debut at Walt Disney Concert Hall in early
2009, all attention was on the diminutive 22-year-old pianists flying fingers in Prokofievs Piano Concerto No. 2.
This summer, when Wang made her Hollywood Bowl debut with the L.A. Phil (in Rachmaninoffs Third Piano
Concerto), attention was divided between fingers and the rest of her. She was projected in sassy close-up on oversize
video screens. Her skirt was short, the night was warm, wine flowed and wolf whistles added a little something extra to
the atmosphere. Fingers then wagged in the blogosphere.
There was obvious interest in Wangs return as a soloist with the L.A. Phil at Disney this weekend with James Conlon
conducting. At the Friday morning performance, the first of three, an eager fan yelled, Yuja, Yuja as she walked on
stage to play Prokofievs Third Piano Concerto.
She is a look-at-me pianist, all right, but not scandalous. Friday she wore a long, black, form-fitting gown and sported
zebra-like streaks in her hair. She looked like a million dollars. But whats a million dollars anymore when the 1% can
casually spend that on a wristwatch? She needed to play like a billion. She did, too, excitingly if sometimes recklessly.
For all that, the matinee belonged not to an idol but to Conlon. He began the program with a riveting performance of
Benjamin Brittens Sinfonia da Requiem and ended it with a compellingly dramatic account of Dvorks Seventh
Symphony. Even so, Prokofievs concerto couldnt help but be the center of attention.
The Third has had some high-profile outings recently. Last month Alexander Toradze played it with moving physical
expressiveness while being mind-read by Valery Gergiev conducting the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra at the Valley
Performing Arts Center. For the L.A. Phils Hollywood Bowl opener in July, Lang Lang went to town in the concerto,
with Gustavo Dudamel conducting.
Wang appears to have acquired the accelerating power to overtake Lang Lang in a Prokofiev sprint to the finish. But
her real competition is with herself. She made a scintillating video of the concerto with Claudio Abbado and a youth
orchestra that is full of terrific spirit. On YouTube you can find her playing the last movement with irresistible lan in a
performance from two summers ago with the London Symphony. Michael Tilson Thomas allows her to flow and
flower without spilling over.
At Disney, she spilled over, her cyborg-fast fingers operating with a mind of their own. She played in her own world.
She didnt bend or blend. Conlon and the orchestra had the unseemly job to follow. They did, as if scurrying to keep
up, especially at the end of the last movement.
There was inevitable excitement in the highly charged air. Yangs sense of rhythm is always a knockout. So, too, is her
precision. I like her focused, sharp sound. In the slow variation movement she found a certain restrained eloquence,
expressive without exaggeration. But their contrast with the passages when the concerto was all about her, made even
her lyricism appear calculated. At 24, Wang is entitled to try different approaches, make mistakes and find her own,
headstrong way. And she clearly needs no one to tell her that.

Yuja Wang
Los Angeles Times November 6, 2011
page 2 of 2
For the rest of the concert, Conlon was his usual take-charge conducting self. Sinfonia da Requiem, written in 1940,
is a dark yet also deliciously flattering look at death. It begins as a lament but with a startling loud tympani, which
Conlon made deaths, so to speak, morning wake-up call.
Britten was only 28 when he wrote this symphony, originally commissioned by the Japanese government to celebrate
the 2,600th anniversary of the dynasty of emperor Hirohito. It was a weird commission. Japan was at the time a
military aggressor and Britten was a pacifist who had fled to the U.S to avoid being drafted into the British army. Japan
rejected the symphony as too gloomy. The New York Philharmonic premiered it, and helped make Brittens name.
Conlon, as music director of Los Angeles Opera, is an avid Britten advocate and has begun a multiyear Britten opera
project with his company across the street from Disney. He gave a magisterial performance of the 20-minute
symphony, with a full measure of transcendence at the end. Even the smitten fellow who shouted Yuja told me at
intermission that the Britten was maybe the most beautiful thing he had ever heard in his life.
Conlon conducted Dvorks Seventh without a score and without breaks between movements. He imbued gruff drama
with moments of sweet lyricism and swept the whole along with sweeping gestures. Conlon went not for illuminating
detail but a thick, rich sound. The orchestra supplied it, strongly, here as in the memorable Britten.

YUJA WANG
Montreal Gazette October 25, 2011

Wang brought passion and fire, as if she were singing


BY WAH KEUNG CHAN

A full house greeted Chinese pianist Yuja Wang for her eagerly anticipated Montreal recital debut on Sunday afternoon
with the Ladies' Morning Musical Club, and it was amply rewarded. Throughout the concert, the Deutsche
Grammophon recording sensation created sounds on the Pollack Hall Steinway that were beyond what we normally
hear; the unforced fortissimi were louder than usual, enveloping the space, while she also excelled in the quiet
moments.
Wang began with a series of Preludes and tudes by Scriabin, finely played. But it was in Prokofiev's Sonata No. 6 in
A major that she came to shine. She brought a fire and passion to the difficult work; her snappy articulation accentuated
the more dramatic passages.
Following the intermission, Wang performed even better in Franz Liszt's famous Sonata in B minor, bringing a rare
sense of understanding to the intricate lines. The 24-year-old was in full command, capturing the drama of the opening
passages. The inner quiet, slow moments were played with tenderness; it was as if she was singing through her fingers.
Wang took the audience through a journey full of dynamics, ending in a thick, quiet tension, broken only by the roar of
the audience.
Dressed in a long, black, velvety evening gown and high stilettos, Wang had a spill as she stepped on the train of her
dress while leaving the stage, but she recovered quickly.
She rewarded her enthusiasts with an encore: the piano solo version of Schubert's Gretchen am Spinnrade, played with
flair. The usual sung line was well exposed, better than most pianists would do, but not with as much feeling as when
sung by a singer.

YUJA WANG
The New York Times October 21, 2011

Flaunting Virtuosity (and More)


BY ANTHONY TOMMASINI

The 24-year-old Chinese pianist Yuja Wang is not above flaunting her uncanny virtuosity. A video of her effortless
performance of a seemingly impossible transcription of Flight of the Bumblebee has gone viral on YouTube. And
though she comes across onstage as somewhat shy, Ms. Wang has a flair for fashion.
Still, since she first emerged, Ms. Wang has proved herself a sensitive and probing artist. At Carnegie Hall on Thursday
night she gave her much-anticipated New York recital debut. From the opening piece, an early Scriabin prelude, Ms.
Wang played this Chopinesque music, all rippling left-hand figures and dreamy melodic lines, with a delicacy, poetic
grace and attention to inner musical details that commanded respect. This was the first of five diverse and wondrously
performed Scriabin selections.
After intermission she offered a rhapsodic, uncommonly nuanced account of the formidable Liszt Sonata in B minor.
But the most revealing performance came in Prokofievs Piano Sonata No. 6 in A. Completed in 1940, this nearly 30minute work channels some barbaric, propulsive, harmonically brittle outbursts into a formal four-movement sonata
structure. In most readings, intriguing tension results from hearing music of such aggressive modernism reined in by
Neo-Classical constraints.
Ms. Wang reconciled these conflicting elements through a performance of impressive clarity and detail. The first
movement begins with a hard-driving theme, like some pumped-up march that trumpets the dissonances embedded into
its diatonic harmonies. Though the small-framed Ms. Wang did not have a particularly big sound at the piano, she
turned this into a virtue by playing with crystalline tone and myriad rich shadings. In the mysterious second theme,
which unfolds in wandering parallel octaves, she brought out subtleties that often slip by in other performances. The
marchlike Allegretto had sardonic humor, with its theme in sly staccato chords over a galumphing bass line. She shaped
the languid, waltzing slow movement beautifully and dispatched the finale as if it were music Prokofiev had written for
a chase scene in a silent film, a fresh and enjoyable approach.
That Ms. Wang played the Liszt work with such technical authority was no surprise. I have heard other accounts that
better conveyed the ingenious, if elusive, design of this 30-minute multisectional, single-movement score. But Ms.
Wangs magisterial and dazzling performance made the most of every moment.
There were four encores, all transcriptions, including Ms. Wangs arrangement of Dukass Sorcerers Apprentice,
brilliantly realized.
So what did she wear? Ms. Wang had raised expectations on this question by some of her past choices of attire. Last
summer she sported a tight, short orange dress for a performance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood
Bowl, provoking comment among critics and fashionistas. But that was Hollywood. For august Carnegie Hall, Ms.
Wang looked striking in a simple, elegant black dress, though her shiny stiletto heels were a daring touch. I think she
would want it reported that for the second half she changed into a more revealing velvety dress, slit open at the side.
In any event, she is a lovely young woman. If youve got it, flaunt it. What matters is that Ms. Wang has got it as a
pianist.

YUJA WANG
ConcertoNet.com October 20, 2011

Musical Essence
BY HARRY ROLNICK

New York
Perleman Auditorium, Carnegie Hall
10/20/2011 Alexander Scriabin: Prelude in B Major, Op. 11, No. 11 Prelude in B Minor, Op. 13, No. 6 Prelude in G-sharp Minor,
Op. 11, No. 12 Etude in G-sharp Minor, Op. 8, No. 9 Poeme in F-sharp Major, Op. 32, No. 1
Serge Prokofiev: Sonata No. 6 in A Major, Op. 82
Franz Liszt: Sonata in B Minor
Yuja Wang (Pianist)
Yuja Wang produced such a brilliant, original, and absolutely unforgettable recital last night that one hesitates to
mention specific moments. Nonetheless, part of Liszt's B Minor Sonata was emblematic of her prowess.
Specifically, the 24-year-old artist started the fugue with one majestic line, played the second line with a sweeter more
lyrical tone, continued with the third repetition of the theme with a heldentenor heroism, and continued this fugue with
each voice held intact to its character.
Yet so sculptured, so mesmerizing was the entire performance, so deftly did she transform the themes in and out of
their dramatic roles, that one feels guilty choosing a particular moment. For Yuja Wang, I feel, is not a force of naturewhich signifies simply whirlwind playing-but a force of musical shape, velocity and, above all, clarity.
Such clarity was evident in the five early Scriabin pieces. Outside of the Pome, this music hardly forecast the mystical
paradoxical Scriabin, and could have been Chopin redux. Thus, for the B Major and G-Sharp Minor preludes, Ms
Wang could have been playing newly-discovered Chopin nocturnes. A controlled tranquility, a soft singing tone,
melodic seductions. Each work had a contrast, though, in thundering-never blustering- preludes and etudes, each
ending quietly, each a jewel on its own.
One had to compare the Prokofiev Sixth Sonata with another Wang, Xiayin Wang, who nimbly essayed the Third Piano
Concerto earlier this week. Nothing was nimble about Yuja Wang's performance. The first movement was taken at a
strict 4/4 pace, with that quirky three-note motif, transformed from signal to alarm, binding it together. The second
movement was not completely jaunty, but stung at times, and the slow waltz of the third movement was free and
relaxed. The finale was played with all the zeal necessary, ending, somehow inevitably, with the quirky opening figure.
One inevitably must compare Ms. Wang to Lang Lang, as both are products of the new China, both are virtuosos, and
both studied with Gary Graffman. Lang Lang can offer the most beautiful, luscious playing, but he is never far from
either becoming vulgar on the verge of showmanship. Only once, in an encore, did one feel that Yuja Wang was
showing off those dextrous digits, but that the music and her emotional relationship with the music came first. (That
exception was in a madly fast arrangement of Poet and Peasant Overture, but encore kitsch is acceptable).
Ms. Wang's virtuosity is frankly unbelievable mainly because she uses it as a tool, not for virtuosity in itself.

Yuja Wang
ConcertoNet.com October 20, 2011
page 2 of 2
In the Liszt B Minor Sonata, Ms. Wang played far far differently than 99 percent of young pianists these days. She
played it with warmth, with accents on the rich harmonies, on the connecting motives, on a complete one-movement
work.
One usually leaves the Liszt breathless from the excitement. But Liszt composed this not as a showpiece, but a
philosophical study in life and transformation. Ms. Wang played it as a complex but undeniable homage to feeling and
emotion.
After this, was one ready for encores? Yuja Wang's playing is too gorgeous to stand on principle. She deftly took
Liszt's arrangement of Schubert's Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel, Rachmaninoff's arrangement of Gluck's melody, that
unknown arrangement of the Von Supp overture and her own brilliant piano arrangement of Sorcerer's Apprentice.
The recital (what a petty word for such a revolutionary evening) was a testament to Yuja Wang's passion, intelligence
and, above all, integrity. She must come back here over and over again. And again. For the Carnegie Hall audience last
night was, at the end, not appreciative in the usual way. They were transformed.

YUJA WANG
Cleveland Plain Dealer October 19, 2011

Pianist Yuja Wang shares virtuoso and expressive gifts in Akron


recital
BY DONALD ROSENBERG

Yuja Wang has earned international renown for two reasons startling virtuosity and provocative dresses.
Let's dispatch the latter first: The Chinese-born pianist wore two lovely gowns black on the first half, red on the
second during her recital Tuesday at Akron's E.J. Thomas Hall in the Tuesday Musical Concert Series. But it was
what she did at the keyboard that raised the Margaret Baxtresser Annual Piano Concert to a special realm.
At 24, Wang is already a veteran in the orchestra, recital and recording worlds. She's been hailed for the ability to play
anything, no matter how fierce the challenge, and even make music while doing so.
The pianist's Akron concert a warm-up for her Carnegie Hall debut Thursday confirmed the extent to which she
applies an individual touch as she tames technical beasts. Wang's program of works by Scriabin, Prokofiev and Liszt
provided ample opportunity for her to delve into terrain both demonic and lyrical.
How such a slender person can draw so much power from a concert grand is something only Wang can tell. The
tempestuous writing in Scriabin's Prelude in B minor, Op. 13, No. 6, and octave cascades in the Etude in G-sharp
minor, Op. 8, No. 9, elicited playing of propulsive and sonorous intensity, a bit too much pedal aside.
In four other Scriabin pieces Wang proved she also has poetry in her soul. The composer's mysticism came through in
her dreamy account of two preludes and, especially, the hushed spell she cast on the Poeme in F-sharp major, Op. 32,
No. 1.
Both sides of Wang's artistry were put to the test in Prokofiev's Sonata No. 6 in A major, Op. 82, which embraces the
rapture and dramatic urgency that can be found in the Russian composer's score for the ballet "Romeo and Juliet."
Himself a pianist of formidable accomplishment, Prokofiev treats the piano with percussive zeal without neglecting its
ability to sing.
Wang savored the work's pungent harmonies, pointed figures and acrobatic flourishes, while also caressing the tender
lines and defining textures with exceptional lucidity.
The same qualities applied to her performance of Liszt's titanic Sonata in B minor. Many pianists concentrate on the
extroverted panoply of athletic keyboard feats at the expense of the pensive aspects.
Wang balanced the score's contrasting transformations. She connected the fierce and ethereal episodes with seamless
urgency. What was most striking was her delicate shading of Liszt's heartfelt musings. The performance allowed the
sonata to be something thats not always achieved touching.
The pianist didn't leave without taking the audience on a short, exhilarating ride. Wang gave the encore, Prokofiev's
Toccata, Op. 11, a whirlwind reading that percolated from repeated opening notes to final upward swoop.

YUJA WANG
Wall Street Journal October 18, 2011

The Fast and the Serious


BY BARBARA JEPSON

San Francisco
Ever since pianist Yuja Wang came to international attention, her handlers have rightfully endeavored to show that
she's a serious young artist with more to her formidable talent than jaw-dropping technique. But the antics of the
spirited, 24-year-old virtuoso, who makes her Carnegie Hall recital debut on Thursday, keep getting in the way.
The thigh-baring orange dress Ms. Wang wore for an August performance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the
Hollywood Bowl sparked bicoastal debate, pitting those who deemed Los Angeles Times critic Mark Swed's honest, if
overheated, reaction "sexist" against those who thought the outfit showed poor professional judgment. Her
cancellations during the past two years have raised hackles in some quarters. And the pianist hasn't yet shed the "flying
fingers" image generated by YouTube videos of her performing an arrangement of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight
of the Bumblebee" at warp speed.
"I'm more into the poetic stuff," Ms. Wang insisted in a backstage interview at Davies Hall in June, where she was
playing Bla Bartk's daunting Second Piano Concerto with the San Francisco Symphony under Michael Tilson
Thomas. "I mean, I like being flashy, of course, but . . . I was five years younger when I was interested in that stuff. . . .
I know Bartk 'Two' is not a crowd pleaser."
The slender Chinese-born pianist's San Francisco performances took place during a residency week that included the
Bartk, a chamber-music concert with orchestra members, and a solo recital. The performance I heard was not up to her
usual high standards, but perhaps Ms. Wang was a little rusty. She had previously canceled her San Francisco recital, as
well as earlier June performances in Orange County, Calif., and Ottawa.
"I told my manager, 'I'm worried about my arm,'" she said, alluding to an injury that reportedly led her to cancel
performances in California and Ottawa last year as well, "and also I had a little allergic reaction to something, and I
was sick. He said, 'I want you to have two weeks of straight relaxation.' Because I was going on forever without
vacation. . . . The same thing with the recital here, 'cause I'm doing Beethoven 'Five' next week with the Berlin
Staatskapelle. . . .
"I think it's also maybe psychological," she added with disarming candor, "because some pieces you have to play over
and over again, and I really don't want to. . . . Either way, I wanted to let my mind think about something else and not
force it to the utmost of its limits."
Earl Blackburn, a senior vice president at classical talent agency Opus 3 Artists, likened managing Ms. Wang's career
to steering a 747 while it's ascending to cruising altitude. "The most dangerous time in terms of instability," he said, "or
in terms of navigating the bumps, is from the time the plane takes off to when it reaches 38,000 feet. The bumps can be
unexpected or somewhat predicted, but it's something you have to go through. . . . There's no artist I've spent more time
on in my career, but she deserves it."
Ms. Wang came to Mr. Blackburn's attention through the recommendation of another client, pianist Gary Graffman,
with whom she studied at the elite Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Beginning in 2005, she made a series of

Yuja Wang
Wall Street Journal October 18, 2011
page 2 of 2
well-received debuts with major orchestras. Some took place when she acted as a last-minute replacement for ailing or
otherwise indisposed pianists: Radu Lupu with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, Martha Argerich with the
Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Murray Perahia in an 11-city U.S. tour with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.
Such substitutions, which the pianist Ruth Laredo called "Red Cross" performances, are a time-honored way for artist
managers to introduce their most promising new talent.
In 2009, Ms. Wang landed an exclusive, multiyear recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon. Her first disc was
"Sonatas & Etudes." With repertoire ranging from the 19th-century Romantic Franz Liszt to the modernist Gyrgy
Ligeti, it was designed, said Mr. Blackburn, to demonstrate her strengths and show "that she was serious." The second,
"Transformation," continued those themes in different repertoire. The third, the pianist's first concerto recording, was
more popularly oriented: Rachmaninoff favorites with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, albeit under the highly regarded
Milanese intellectual Claudio Abbado, with whom she had appeared at the Lucerne Festival.
Obviously, Ms. Wang will continue to grow interpretively, hopefully avoiding the temptation to make technical display
an end in itself. At her best, she combines pinpoint accuracy with lyrical delicacy and emotional nuance. Two
examples, from her impressive "Transformation" disc, are the pianist's soulful performance of Domenico Scarlatti's
Sonata in F Minor and her sprightly, exceptionally characterful traversal of Igor Stravinsky's Three Movements From
"Petrushka," a transcription based on his ballet score.
For her Carnegie recital debut in the 2,800-seat Stern Auditorium, part of the hall's prestigious annual Keyboard
Virtuoso series, Ms. Wang will perform five pieces pieces by Alexander Scriabin and two heavyweights of the solo
piano literature: Sergei Prokofiev's Sonata No. 6 and Liszt's B-Minor Sonata. "She's not only a phenomenal player,"
said Clive Gillinson, Carnegie's executive and artistic director, "but she also has a remarkable ability to connect with
audiences." The Carnegie event is part of the pianist's 12-city North American recital tour, which continues in
Montreal, Calgary and Arcata, Calif.
Ms. Wang began piano studies at age 6. She honed her prodigious skills on China's competition circuit, and studied at
the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. When she was 14, her parents sent her to Canada to learn English and
study at the Mount Royal College Conservatory in Calgary. At 15, she was accepted by Curtis. She graduated in 2008,
and is now performing a grueling schedule of about 100 concerts per season.
"What I like about playing piano," she observed, is that "it's kind of an escape from life, which is perfect for a lonely
artist. We practice alone, we do lessons alone. The most alone time is right before I go onstageit's like, 'Can anyone
help me? I guess not.'"
In performance, "we are communicating with people," Ms. Wang continued, "but the way we learn the piece is through
looking inside. For me, the best times, when people felt like I was communicating thoroughly, was when I was totally
oblivious of their existence or even of my existence, and was totally in the world of music. So I have to forget about
them [the audience] in order to communicate." She paused for a moment, then burst into girlish laughter. "Maybe that's
what I should do with my boyfriends!"

YUJA WANG
Times Union October 17, 2011

Wang stunning at Massry


BY PRISCILLA MCLEAN

An amazing phenomenon happened at the Massry Center Saturday evening. A charming little 24-year-old Chinese doll
dressed in a tight, floor-length black gown tottered in stiletto heels to the Steinway piano. By the second phrase, she
had transformed into one of the most powerful, masterful pianists ever to appear in the Capital Region, and had
mesmerized the whole audience.
Her program was filled with challenging, difficult, and somewhat esoteric music, beginning with five short pieces by
Alexander Scriabin, the 19th-century Russian mystic. The three preludes and etude resembled Chopin on steroids, and
Yuja Wang's hands seemed to liquidly melt into the keyboard when she wasn't maneuvering evilly difficult left-handed
leaps and impossible runs. During the final Scriabin offering, his most characteristic, the Poeme in F sharp major, Op.
32, No. 1, Wang shaped each phrase individually, bringing out the mystic introspection in the music. Somehow she
could cajole the barest whisper out of the piano and yet play each note evenly and cleanly.
The Sonata No. 6 in A major, Op. 82 by Sergie Prokofiev varied from playful bright march-like music to sparkling
rapid runs. Wang always brought out the little melodies amid driving rapid filigree, and nuanced the gentle poetic
passages. The third movement is fiendishly difficult, almost impossible to play, and yet Wang performed note-perfect,
as was the whole concert, and with seemingly little effort.
After intermission, to combat any audience sleepiness, Wang returned in a blazingly red tight, backless floor-length
gown and sequined straps, with tiny colored feathers in her hair. She then proceeded to turn into Franz Liszt, if one
dared close one's eyes, as she, with unbelievable power, realized his epic Sonata in B minor. Sitting tall, her arms
floating above the keys, fingers evenly caressing the notes in the soft passages like water drops, she gave a breathless
performance of this music which inverts upon itself.
As if this concert was not difficult enough, Wang also played two encores, both whirlwinds of perpetual motion-Prokofiev's Toccata and a Liszt transcription of Schubert's song "Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel.".Then, bowing very
low and smiling while collecting her flowers, this little slender doll tottered off the stage amid continuous and
prolonged standing ovation.

YUJA WANG
Fort Worth Star-Telegram October 12, 2011

A very Cliburnish concert program by Yuja Wang at Bass Hall


BY OLIN CHISM

FORT WORTH -- The Cliburn Concerts program Tuesday night at Bass Hall was, fittingly, very Cliburnish.
Pianist Yuja Wang played five brief pieces by Scriabin. Brief Scriabin pieces invariably show up at the Cliburn
competition. Then there was Prokofiev's Sonata No. 6, the first of the composer's so-called war sonatas, which also
appear with great regularity at the competition. Finally there was Liszt's Sonata in B minor. It wouldn't be a Cliburn
without the Liszt B minor.
This is not to say that everything was predictable Tuesday night. Wang has received a lot of notice lately, much of it
focused on her impressive technique. This might have led one to expect a real thunder-and-lightning display, but she
demonstrated immediately that she is an artist of great subtlety as well as of impressive power and dexterity.
The Scriabin set -- three preludes, an etude and a "poeme" -- was just as often elegant, dreamy and quietly flowing as it
was stormy (just occasionally veering close to bangy). Wang used a very wide range of dynamics as well as fluid
pacing in her performance.
The Prokofiev sonata was given an attention-holding interpretation that was also brilliant technically but subtle and
varied throughout.
The most impressive to me, because I find it hard to be attracted to the work, was Liszt's B minor sonata. Wang gave it
all the power and energy one could desire, but demonstrated that it can be a work of considerable poetry and even
beauty. If this had been the Cliburn competition, this would have been at least a finals performance and maybe even a
winning one.
There was something for the eye as well as the ear. For the first part of the program, Wang came out in a jet-black
dress. After intermission she returned dressed in bright red. Her stage demeanor was mostly all business, with no
flamboyant gestures. She also didn't milk the applause, which was enthusiastic.
As usual, there was a large screen above the stage. One's eyes tended to drift upward to the large screen rather than
focus on the live musician, who looked minuscule in contrast.

YUJA WANG
TheaterJones October 12, 2011

And It Goes Like This


BY GREGORY SULLIVAN ISAACS

Yuja Wang shows the Cliburn Concerts crowd how it's done at Bass Hall.
Yuja Wang presented by Cliburn Concerts review
Pianist Yuja Wang made her much-anticipated appearance at the Cliburn Concerts on Tuesday at Bass Hall. While the
hall was shamefully only about half full, those who came to see what she was wearing were sorely disappointed. Those
who came to hear a performance by someone whoalready at the age of 23is one of our great pianists were richly
rewarded.
All this clothing brouhaha started this summer when the beautiful 23-year-old Chinese pianist wore a very tight and
skimpy dress to play at the Hollywood Bowl, and other staid classical venues. An uproar, at least as big a one as
classical music's clucking tongues can muster, ensued. (Give me a moment to roll my eyes.) This led to a welcome and
frank discussion of this kerfuffle by music critic Anne Midgette in the Washington Post.
Well, the only thing revealing on Tuesday was a dazzling and magnificent, dare I say unequalled, technique and the
only thing shocking was how amazingly better than anyone else currently in competition for the title of Horowitz's heir
she played. Dress oglers had to be content with an elegant floor-length black dress in the first half and something
similar in red for the second.
Wang is on tour with the program she presented at Bass Hall and she has astounded everywhere she has played it.
Tuesday was no exception. Wang's program starts with a set of Scriabin Preludes ( Op. 11, No. 11, Op. 13, No. 6, Op.
11, No. 12), then goes into Etude Op. 8 and ends with the Poeme, Op. 27, No. 1. This grouping gave the audience their
first clue that Wang was not just a technical powerhouse. Together, they made as convincing a set of Scriabin as you
are ever likely to hear; full of contrast and showing the composer's variety and even his evolving voice.
She then played two monster sonatas, Prokofiev's Sonata No. 6 in A major, Op. 82, and Liszt's multi-movement Sonata
in B Minor, S 178, played without pause. Both of these are international competition staples and many a firebrand has
pounded their way through them on their way to hoped-for glory. The Prokofiev is a particularly noisy and angry affair
and the Liszt always seems to be a collection of faux endings from a composer who keep thinking the piece should be
longer.
All of these now-obviously misconceived observations, created by one too many crass readings, were easily destroyed
by Wang's revealing performance of both pieces. "Here," she seemed to say, "is how these pieces should really go." In
her hands, all the bravura and technical virtuosity faded into the music itself.
No technical challenge gave her a moment's pause. She sat upright on the edge of the bench, with her body ramrod
straight, with textbook arm and finger positions. On occasions, she would lean forward ever so slightly to gain
additional power but there was absolutely nothing of the show, which mars some other young virtuoso pianists, about
her demeanor. She was elegant throughout. Further, as impressive as her loud and fast playing was, it was her control
over the very soft sounds and passagework that was the most extraordinary and that lingers in the memory.
This is how it should be done.

Yuja Wang
TheaterJones October 12, 2011
page 2 of 2
Just one minor complaint. For my taste, she relies too much on the sustaining pedal. I selfishly admit that this is just
because some of her stunning velocity with the nearly impossible passage blurs and it would be remarkable to hear it in
all its crystalline perfection for once. Let lesser pianists use the pedal as camouflage.
We can only hope that she continues to grow and perfect her already glorious musicianship and doesn't burn out or,
worse, get distracted by the spotlight.

YUJA WANG
Cleveland Plain Dealer August 15, 2011

Blossom concert testifies to warm bond between Cleveland


Orchestra, Jahja Ling
BY ZACHARY LEWIS

Affection may not be a musical value like articulation or intonation, but its presence or absence can still make a huge
difference, as Saturday's performance by the Cleveland Orchestra confirmed. Just by the first few bars of a showy but
demanding program, even listeners new to Blossom Music Center might have guessed at the strong bond that exists
between the orchestra and guest conductor Jahja Ling, now in his 27th year of working in Cleveland. That's how
specially charged the performance was, and not just in the beginning.
First, though, the headliner: pianist Yuja Wang. The risen star of the piano world made her Cleveland debut Saturday,
sporting a bright-red gown and shining musical megawatts in Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3. No matter that
Prokofiev intended the score for himself, as a solo vehicle. So deeply did Wang inhabit the piece, it might as well have
been written just for her. To the concerto's feistiest pages, Wang brought intense focus and hurricane-like power,
whipping up storms verging on the violent. Yet the pianist also modeled exceptional delicacy, treating parts of the
Andantino like they were made of glass. Those aspects alone would have made for a thrilling account, but Wang went
one step further Saturday, underscoring not just the music's instability but also its quirkiness, its harmonic and textural
peculiarities. In short, it was a feast of a performance, one that more than justifies an invitation to Severance Hall.
Rachmaninoff's orchestral music can fall flat in less than capable hands, but in Ling's, the "Symphonic Dances" were
downright fetching. Some interpreters have trouble locating the music's life-force, but Ling -- music director of the San
Diego Symphony -- and the orchestra he served for over two decades found it instantly and held on for a vibrant, suave
performance. Here those more traditional musical values came into play. Beyond affection, the performance evinced
technical finery in the form of elegantly tapered phrases, organic transitions, and a luminous tone. The Lento,
especially, was a dream-like scene in Ling's rendering, alternately feverish and haunting. Ling's August appearance
ended on the most charming of notes. Where a twinge of darkness pervades the Rachmaninoff, Rimsky-Korsakov's
"Capriccio espagnol" is unabashedly upbeat.
The performance wasn't flawless in technical terms, but it lacked for nothing by way of vigor or charisma. Ling took a
collaborative approach, drawing bold outlines and leaving the task of supplying colors and flavors to several
instrumental soloists, each of whom flourished in that spotlight. Still, the dominant trait, warmth, came not from any
overhead fixtures but rather from the friendly connection between orchestra and conductor. Ling hasn't been on staff in
Cleveland since 2005, but in so many ways, it's like he never left.
Luckily for us, too, Saturday wasn't Ling's only visit this year. He'll be back next month to conduct the season finale.

YUJA WANG
Well-Tempered Ear July 15, 2011

Pianist Yuja Wang and conductor Claudio Abbado team up to make


the most interesting CD of Rachmaninoff concertos Ive ever heard.
BY JACOB STOCKINGER

I dont know if the new Deutsche Grammophon recording by Yuja Wang of Rachmaninoffs early Piano Concerto No.
2 and his more mature Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini is the best recording I have ever heard of those two
popular works. After all, they are competing with some pretty memorable versions, including those by Arthur
Rubinstein and Sviatoslav Richter, Vladimir Ashkenazy and Stephen Hough.
But I know this much: It is the most interesting recording of these often played and often recorded works that I have
heard in a long time, maybe ever. And that is a remarkable achievement.
More curious and remarkable still, the reason for that accomplishment is not primarily the outstanding and impressive
playing of pianist Yuja Wang, the beautiful young phenom who seems to have flawless fingers as well as nerves of
steel and irresistible charisma.
No, the secret to this recording at least to my ears is the conductor Claudio Abbado and the Mahler Chamber
Orchestra.
One usually focuses understandably on the titanic piano part in these concertos. After all, Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
was one of the great virtuosos who performed as well as composed. But what this recording shows is that
Rachmaninoff also understood the art of orchestrating.
To listen to these recordings is to hear some orchestral moments themes and polyphony, dialogues and harmonies
that somehow escaped other recordings that focus more on the keyboard virtuosity more than on the music. Under the
veteran and justly renowned Abbado (below), color and structure matter here more than virtuosity and schmaltzy
melodies, though they receive their due too. Indeed, the piano often sounds like it is part of the orchestra.
In short, the Grammy-nominated 24-year-old Wang, who already has two outstanding solo CDs on DG to her credit
(Sonatas and Etudes and Transformations,) based on theme and variations) has turned in an outstanding and
memorable concerto debut.
I find her and Abbado especially convincing in the much overplayed and hackneyed Piano Concerto No. 2 that gave
rise to the pop songs Never Gonna Love Again and Full Moon and Empty Arms.
For the past 50 years or so, Rachmaninoffs Third Concerto has overshadowed the second as the more serious and more
difficult work, the Mount Everest of piano concertos. (Think of its parodistic role in the film Shine.)
Yet the composer himself (below) reportedly said that his second concerto was more difficult one because it was more
complicated and musically subtle, if not more technically challenging. This recording confirms Rachmaninoffs own
view.
This version of the Paganini Variations also offers a good chance to showcase the orchestra as well as the piano, though
it seems more mainstream, if no less convincing, in its interpretation.

Yuja Wang
Well-Tempered Ear July 15, 2011
page 2 of 2
I dont yet know if I will listen to this recording more than to others, though the chances are good. There is still
something primal about treating a lush, Romantic warhorse as a lush, Romantic warhorse. Who doesnt like being
swept away? But I know I will absolutely listen to it from time to time as a tonic to other more predictable versions
and perhaps more than those others. Time will tell.
One leaves this poetic, subtle and insightful recording also hoping that Wang turns in not only more solo recordings
adding to her Scarlatti, Chopin, Liszt, Brahms, Scriabin, Ravel, Stravinsky and Ligeti but also more concertos with
collaborators the equal of Abbado. I would love to hear that kind of collaboration in Mozart concertos, or Beethoven
Concerto No. 4, or the two Chopin Piano Concertos.
It seems that with each new recording, the Beijing-born and American-trained Wang, who has built a reputation of
filling in at the last minute and who seems to have a repertoire as immense as her talent, is ascending higher on the
scale of must-hear piano talents.
She leaves you wanting to hearing more recordings by her and especially to hear her live. Is there higher praise or
promise?
What do you think of Yuja Wang?
Of her Rachmaninoff piano concertos?
Of her solo recordings and live performances?

YUJA WANG
National Post June 10, 2011

Symphony review: Yuja Wang and the TSO


BY ARTHUR KAPTAINIS

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has enlisted some hot piano prospects to animate its Rachmaninoff and the
Impressionists mini-series in Roy Thomson Hall. On Wednesday we heard 24-year-old Yuja Wang deal with Rockys
perennial Piano Concerto No. 3.
If you know anything about this Beijing-born ex-Calgarian you know she possesses a technique worth talking about.
All the swirling arabesques and rapidfire elaborations emerged with startling clarity. Fans of knife-like double octaves
had plenty to savour.
There were soft interludes as well, beautifully poised and elongated, most notably in the finale. Peter Oundjian oversaw
a refined accompaniment. The harmonic subtleties for which this composer rarely gets credit were duly rendered. Yet
as superb as this account was on many levels, I felt at points that Wangs hyperarticulate style created a chatty rather
than eloquent texture. More brooding would not have been amiss.
A similar judgment could be applied to Ravels Daphnis et Chlo Suite No. 2. The Danse gnrale was done with
precision and bite. Nora Shulman led a crack squad of flutists in the Pantomime. Somehow the Lever du jour lacked the
requisite hothouse atmosphere, even at the opening, with the cellos and basses providing less support than expected.
But again, we are talking about a very good performance.
This was an Afterworks concert, starting in the early evening, which perhaps explained the cocktail dress chosen by
Wang. It also had something to do with the presence of Tom Allen as master of ceremonies.
This popular radio pro needs to script his comments more tightly. There is no sense in recounting the Daphnis ballet
scenario if it is, as Allen repeatedly insisted, so thin. And in the absence of analytical insight, asking Wang play
highlights of the Rachmaninoff before the full performance is merely to burden the audience with so many spoilers.
It must be reported that the crowd was small in view the renown of the soloist and the popularity of the repertoire.
Warm weather? Stanley Cup finals? I say go to a concert and you avoid both!
I should take a moment to comment belatedly on the brilliance of Gabriela Montero last week in the opening
installment of this series. You might recall this Venezuelan as the official pianist of the Barack Obama inauguration.
Her indoor work is more interesting. Another formidable technician, she played Rachmaninoffs Rhapsody on a Theme
of Paganini with impeccable colour and a warm-hearted identification with each of the variations. Her improvisations
on themes submitted by the audience (the Mickey Mouse Club Theme and The Addams Family were the high-minded
offerings) were paragons of controlled intensity. Rather than flail around the decades, she contained her vivid
imagination within a given style, whether Beethovenian or Scriabinesque.
The orchestral highlight under Oundjian was Messiaens early Les offrandes oublies. The TSO strings fare very well
with cool rather than hot passion.

YUJA WANG
Toronto Star June 9, 2011

Yuja Wang: Dazzling TSO debut


Toronto Symphony Orchestra
BY JOHN TERAUDS

(out of 4)
With pianist Yuja Wang. Peter Oundjian, conductor. Repeats Thu. & Sat. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St. 416-5983375 ( www.tso.ca)
Some musicians are so great, it doesnt really matter what happens to be on the program.
Chinese piano star Yuja Wang, 24, is one of those artists. What made her dbut with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra
at Roy Thomson Hall so special on Wednesday evening was that she happened to be playing one of the cornerstones of
the modern piano-concert repertoire the Piano Concerto No. 3, written and premiered by Sergei Rachmaninov in
1909.
It is a grand work bulging with grand moments that show off a pianists technique and stamina. But the real treats are
the quiet passages, where the artist can draw us up close and intimate.
Wang displayed flawless technique, crystalline clarity and an unerring sense of interpretive purpose from beginning to
end.
The true charm in her performance was an overriding lyricism that was all grace and elegance, where so many other
pianists err on the side of making powerful sonic statements.
Toronto Symphony music director Peter Oundjian matched Wang approach, making for 45 minutes of lush, gorgeous
Russian music.
Then there was more: Maurice Ravels second suite from his ballet Daphnis et Chlo, also from 1909.
This evocative music is all about painting delicate as well as vivid colours with sound and the orchestra, led by
Oundjian, came through in flying Technicolor.
Wednesdays performance was the final installment in this years Afterworks concerts, which start at 6:30 p.m. and end
at 8 p.m. Everything is more casual how people dress, the ability to bring a drink into the hall, and the jovial verbal
introductions to the music by concert host Tom Allen.
This concert couldnt have been be a better of saying: More, please.
The Thursday and Saturday programs contain the Rachmaninov concerto, but paired with different pieces by Ravel and
Claude Debussy.

YUJA WANG
San Diego Union-Tribune May 7, 2011

Young pianist propels symphonys passionate Prokofiev


BY JAMES CHUTE

Chinese virtuoso Yuja Wang can be compared to the best


When she last performed in San Diego in 2009 with the Shanghai Symphony at Copley Symphony Hall, Yuja Wang
raised a few eyebrows with her ferocious technique. Friday at Copley, this time with the San Diego Symphony, Yuja
Wang raised the roof in a superlative performance of Prokofievs Piano Concerto No. 3.
There have been several inspired collaborations between orchestra and soloist in the symphonys Centennial Season: in
particular cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Lang Lang. Wangs musicianship on a program that also included Mozarts
Symphony No. 41, Webers Overture to Der Freischutz and Tchaikovskys Capriccio Italien belongs in that
category.
Her playing is remarkable for its sensitivity, fluidity and virtuosity. And like both of those classical music icons, her
technique is not just flawless, its effortless. Only 24 years old, shes able to do whatever she wants on the piano, from
quick bursts of triple fortissimo chords, to rapid scalar passages extending the entire length of the keyboard to the
softest, pianissimo passages.
So what did she want to do with Prokofiev? She brought both energy and poetry to the Russian composers propulsive
masterpiece. Like Ma and Lang, she formed a partnership with the orchestra and its conductor, Jahja Ling, who
matched her at every turn.
Only in the first movement, after the quiet opening Andante (with its theme beautifully shaped by clarinetists Sheryl
Renk and Theresa Tunnicliff), when the tempo rises and suddenly the music charges forward, did the orchestra seem to
be holding on for dear life. For just a few moments, it struggled to keep up with Wang. But the musicians soon found
their footing as Wang traded themes back and forth with the orchestras principal woodwinds.
She found a poignant beauty in the quiet sections such as the opening of the second movement. At those moments, she
seemed to be playing chamber music with the other musicians.
But it was the faster sections, especially the close of the frenzied third movement, that were met with gasps from the
audience, and then a standing ovation. She rewarded them with two encores: Gyorgy Cziffras arrangement of Strauss
Tritsch-Tratsch Polka and Liszts arrangement of Schuberts Gretchen am Spinnrade (you can watch her perform
both on youtube.com)
The balance of the program also had its rewards, in particular an incisive, buoyant Mozart Symphony No. 41. Webers
program-opening overture didnt fare quite as well, as the orchestra sounded tentative and never did find a groove. The
same affliction marked the Capriccio Italien, although Ling was able to shake it off and end the concert on a
resounding note.

YUJA WANG
Minnesota Public Radio April 25, 2011

New Classical Tracks: The Spirit of Rachmaninoff


BY JULIE AMACHER

St. Paul, Minn. The Washington Post has described 23-year-old Yuja Wang as "a pianist of rare gifts." Claudio
Abbado agrees. After seeing this young Chinese pianist play Franz Liszt's sonata on French television, he compares her
to the Argentine master Martha Argerich. That's why he hand-selected her to play Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto at
the 2009 Lucerne Festival. Abbado plays with very few soloists, so Yuja Wang says it was quite an honor, "I was very
flattered," she recalls, "they always have Pollini or Brendel, you know, those amazing masters. I was really shocked. I
was like, Are you sure?"
On her first orchestral recording, featuring Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 and the Rhapsody on a Theme of
Paganini, Yuja Wang joins Abbado and the young musicians of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Yuja Wang says this is
a very special recording, "I've never done Rachmaninoff with Claudio, so I was really eager to do that with him. I know
he did the same thing 20 years ago with Cecile Licad. I think we have a very similar view of Rachmaninoff which is
not too kitsch. It's beautiful--but very tasteful, just like the composer himself does it. So we're really agreeing on that.
We hardly talked. We just played and it was right there." Wang admits it's nerve-wracking to play under Abbado,
whom she calls "a man of mystery" because he rarely says anything. He just smiles. "The whole thing about Claudio is
listening to each other, about silence," she explains, "For me, it was more like playing chamber music, rather than a
huge orchestra with soloist. So it was a fun time!"
What's most challenging about Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2,according to Yuja, is cutting through the
orchestral texture so the piano can be heard. Her job is to bring out the harmonies, and the legato passages are very
important to her. There's one point where the piano is almost accompaniment to the orchestra. "I feel like the orchestra
is basically the sea and I'm just surfing the waves. So I'm not leading them, I'm just part of them."
Yuja looked to Rachmaninoff's own recordings for inspiration in her interpretation of the Piano Concerto No. 2, "I
think he's the height of the art of playing piano," she confesses. Everything was just so high-quality, in terms of sound,
phrasing, clarity, pedaling, the way he plays everything, the structure. Everything you can think of is perfection, and of
course there's the original charms of momentary inspiration in there as well--you can hear it."
So what is her favorite part of Rachmaninoff's second concerto? "The beginning cello melody that I'm not part of," she
laughs. She says it really sets the mood for her, "I'm supposed to set the mood for them but when they come in, I'm like,
oh yeah, that's it! I love the second movement in the second concerto. There's that spot in the middle, in b minor. I'm
singing with the woodwinds, and it's really, really touching. I love that part."
Rachmaninoff was universally famous by the time he wrote his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. The theme is the
last of of Paganini's 24 Caprices for violin, a set of virtuoso variations so difficult it fueled rumors that Paganini had
sold his soul to the devil to be able to play it. Rachmaninoff used the theme to create his own variations plus an
introduction and coda, ingeniously shaping them into, in effect, a three-movement concerto. Yuja Wang loves this redhot, emotional work because it shows so much variety and so many sides of the composer. Plus she really loves the
youthful energy the Mahler Chamber Orchestra brings to the piece. "This is a piece that has lots of witty places in it.
The reason I loved it so much is because it's just so clever."

Yuja Wang
Minnesota Public Radio April 25, 2011
page 2 of 2
Yuja Wang has an apartment in New York City, but she says she's rarely home. She will be there in October when she
gives her debut recital in Carnegie Hall. In the meantime she'll be quite busy, touring the globe with stops at the
Hollywood Bowl, the BBC Proms, and a tour of her homeland, China. She's also just commissioned a new work from
composer Mason Bates which she'll premiere in June. It's tough to find practice time when she's on the road so much,
but she says that's not the hardest part, "I rarely feel grounded anywhere because I'm in different places every day," she
explains. "The only thing that stays the same are the pieces and the music."
Yuja Wang is certainly grounded in Rachmaninoff. She loves his music, and the great Russian pianists like Horowitz,
Richter, and Kissin. She chuckles about the Russian hat she's wearing on the cover of this CD, noting she still looks
very Chinese--but this young Chinese pianist has a very Russian soul.

YUJA WANG
Texas Public Radio April 14, 2011

Classical Spotlight: Pianist Yuja Wang: "Rachmoninov"


Twenty-three-year-old Chinese pianist Yuja Wang is widely recognized for playing that combines the spontaneity and
fearless imagination of youth with the discipline and precision of a mature artist.
Regularly lauded for her controlled, prodigious technique, Yujas command of the piano has been described as
astounding and superhuman, and she has been praised for her authority over the most complex technical demands
of the repertoire, the depth of her musical insight, as well as her fresh interpretations and graceful, charismatic stage
presence.
Wang just released her latest album, "Rachmoninov" featuring works from the composer. She spoke to John Clare
about her career and her new recording.

YUJA WANG
Washington Post February 12, 2011

Music review: Juanjo Mena conducts BSO at Strathmore, with


pianist Yuja Wang
BY JOAN REINTHALER

Clocking in at just under an hour, Bruckner's Sixth Symphony is a sprawling evocation of religious yearnings and
strivings, more revelatory than poetic and certainly a monument to patience. Guest conductor Juanjo Mena (recently
named to the post of chief conductor of the BBC Philharmonic), who led the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in a
strikingly colored and remarkably transparent performance of the piece at the Music Center at Strathmore on Thursday,
focused on the details - and did this well.
Even with the orchestra at its busiest, ornamental violin passages surfaced cleanly, wind balances were carefully
gauged, and rhythmic feints and bobs spoke effectively. What didn't come across in all this, however, was the larger
picture of a coherent message - of promise at the beginning and resolution at the end - and while the details were
interesting, they weren't an hour's worth of interesting.
The evening's drawing card, however, was the Rachmaninoff Second Piano Concerto, a piece that, unlike the Bruckner,
has melodies that everyone can recognize and hum. Yuja Wang, a 23-year-old pianist from China, gave a thoughtful
and mature reading that was far beyond her years and that managed to elevate it from the saccharine to the sublime.
For much of the first movement she lay low, operating as part of the orchestral ensemble, surfacing only occasionally
(and always subtly) to bring out a sequential figure or a short phrase. The almost vocal legatos she lavished on the
melodies of the second movement spoke loudly in the quietest way, and throughout, her unhurried momentum served
the music beautifully. The orchestra, and particularly the winds, sounded confident if sometimes, premeditated (Wang
never sounded premeditated).
It was a performance that was all about the music, not the musicians, and, in this, Wang and Mena seemed to be ideal
collaborators.

YUJA WANG
Cincinnati Enquirer October 16, 2010

Yuja Wang enchants CSO audience


BY MARY ELLYN HUTTON

Move over -- fill in worlds greatest pianist -- Yuja Wang is here.


Born in Beijing and now toppling pedestals worldwide, 23-year-old Wang made her Cincinnati Symphony debut Friday
night at Music Hall with a stunning performance of Bartoks Piano Concerto No. 2. Composed in 1931, it remains one
of the most difficult in the repertoire, but whether she was scooping up fists full of notes or racing across the keyboard
at lightning speed, it held no terrors for her. Had there been a larger audience (tiny, even without a competing Reds
game), she might have played an encore, but it would have been hard to top her performance with the well-oiled CSO
led by guest conductor Carlos Kalmar.
The concert had a Hungarian theme, opening with Liszts Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 and ending with Brahms Piano
Quartet No. 1 orchestrated by Arnold Schoenberg (famously Hungarian for its Gypsy Rondo finale)
Bartoks music reflects the folk idioms of his native Hungary in a fully integrated way. The first movement of his
Second Piano Concerto is set for piano, winds and brass (no strings), giving it a brilliant, extroverted sound. (The
opening theme is reminiscent of the Russian Dance from Stravinskys Petrouchka.) There is constant interaction
between soloist and orchestra and it was awe-inspiring to see Wang take on the CSO forces.
The second movement (Adagio) is an example of Bartoks characteristic night music, opening with a gentle theme
for muted strings, alternating with passages for piano and timpani alone. The central Presto bubbled up rapidly to a
high note in the trumpet (effectively the keystone of the arch-like concerto) after which the Adagio returned, ending the
movement as it began. For Wang, the Allegro molto finale, beginning with by a hefty thump on the bass drum, must
have felt like being shot out of a cannon, but she kept up the furious pace with flying fingers. After a brief respite, it
was back to the fray-for-all and a thunderous ending.

YUJA WANG
China Daily July 6, 2010

Change of Tune
BY CHEN JIE

Life keeps changing and growing for piano prodigy Yuja Wang, Chen Jie reports
Yuja Wang released her second Deutsche Grammophon (DG) album, Transformation, in April. Music has transformed
the life of the brilliant 23-year-old young pianist who has been the most talked-about classical pianist since Lang Lang.
She says that the title "transformation" reflects the Buddhist idea that life consists of constant changes. "Everyday my
life just keeps transforming, keeps changing and growing," Wang told China Daily on Friday afternoon before her
recital at the National Center for the Performing Arts (NCPA).
Last June, when Beijing-born Wang returned to her hometown to give her first recital since she left in 1999, NCPA's
concert hall was only 70 percent full. Three months later in September, she returned with the Lucerne Festival
Orchestra under the magisterial baton of Claudio Abbado and played to a full-house, but most of the audience were
there for the maestro Abbado.
Things have changed dramatically in nine months. Though Friday and Saturday nights had the crucial quarter-final
games of the 2010 World Cup, Wang's Friday night recital was sold out and Saturday's concert with the newly formed
NCPA orchestra also drew a large audience.
Last June on the day she attended NCPA's press conference, her parents took her to buy a "formal suit". They went to
Xidan and picked a simple white shirt and cream pants.
Now lots of designers want to dress her. But Wang usually says no.
"It's a commitment and you always have to wear their dress. And I just don't want to commit. It's not going to enrich
me, it's going to distract me. Music is my main interest," she says.
Wang's independent streak has a strong influence on her music.
Chopin is one of Wang's core composers, but in a year when most pianists have been playing Chopin and recording
Chopin to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the musician's birth, her new album eschews Chopin preludes and
ballads and she plays Schumann, Schubert and Liszt at her concerts.
Friday's recital was framed by NCPA's Chopin series of concerts but Wang played only one Chopin piece and even this
was at the request of the NCPA.
"Chopin is my favorite composer, but everything has a limit. I feel like I'm protecting myself from listening to Chopin
so much, so this year I intentionally won't play much Chopin," Wang says.
"Many people knew me after they watched me playing Mozart's Turkish March and Rimsky's Flight of the Bumblebee
on YouTube and thought I'm a kind of speed player. I want to change that image.
"Speed in playing and showing off the techniques were what I enjoyed at a young age, but now, I want to play pieces
rich in color and musicality," she says.
Wang's independence and clear direction resulted from her early life abroad without the usual protective parents in
attendance.

Yuja Wang
China Daily July 6, 2010
page 2 of 3
Having been a star student at secondary school attached to the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, Wang moved
to Canada when she was 12 and to the United States the following year. Though Curtis Institute of Music, where she
studied with Gary Graffman, between 2002 and 2008, assigned her a surrogate family to which she grew close, she
mostly lived on her own in Philadelphia.
In an interview with the US National Public Radio, she shocked listeners by saying she doesn't necessarily love her
chosen instrument.
"I mean I love music not necessarily the instrument itself. The reason I chose the piano is because it is like a conductor,
it has so much color, it's like an orchestra. If I didn't play piano, maybe I would be a fashion designer, a movie director,
who knows?" she says.
Wang did not imagine she would achieve success so quickly, and says it feels "crazy" to give more than 100 concerts a
year, but obviously she is getting used to the life of being a professional pianist and her schedule has now been booked
till 2013.
"I only want to play the piano. When I was young I loved touring because I could see different cities, different people
and know their culture. But now I feel traveling too much is really tiring. I don't like the life from airport to concert hall
to hotel. And it's hard to sleep with the jet leg. Sometimes I don't know how long I've slept or where I am when I wake
up in the morning. But it's all part of the game, I guess," she says.
"Before, a concert was like a big event to me, but right now, because there are so many concerts, it's just my daily life.
"It's nice to have about 60 to 70 concerts a year. Then I have time to practice, think and refresh."
She adds it's lucky she developed a strong repertoire at Curtis and doesn't need to keep practicing now.
"Many people have talent, I was lucky and grasped my opportunities. Playing the piano well does not mean you will be
a successful professional pianist. You have to be tough both physically and mentally. Sometimes, you fly three hours
and are asked to play as soon as you land," she says.
Wang signed with the prestigious DG label and won her first Grammy nomination and was acclaimed the "Best New
Artist" or "Young Artist of 2009" by all kinds of classical organizations.
It has been a rocket ride to success. Does she feel much pressure?
"No, no pressure, I work better," her answer sounds quite firm.
"I guess I'm just excited and look forward to things. I do all these projects instead of worrying what is going to happen,
because I really don't care what's going to happen. I just play the piano."
And when the Chinese press compares her with Lang Lang or Yundi Li, she laughs.
"Oh, that's old news. It was five years ago. There are so many younger talents emerging. They are definitely the first
ones to be successful internationally and Lang Lang is also with DG, so it's easy for people to try and make
comparisons, but they are other people."
On stage Wang is a wonderfully gifted and thoughtful musician, capable of both superb technical artistry and emotional
reflection, while offstage she is quick to laugh and easygoing.
When she returns to Beijing, she enjoys reuniting with parents and eating food cooked by her mother. This time she
met many former middle school classmates, who are now members of the NCPA's orchestra.
"It was really cool and amazing to meet and play with my classmates from many years ago. The rehearsal reminded me
of the time we were in the same class and I felt I was one of them again," she says.
The loneliness of touring is eased somewhat by her laptop with webcam, and Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

Yuja Wang
China Daily July 6, 2010
page 3 of 3
She also loves to listen to jazz and pop music.
"Right now, actually I'm kind of admiring Lady Gaga and Rihanna," she says.

YUJA WANG
Gramophone July 2010

Yuja Wangs new recording, Transformation, selected as


Gramophones Recording of the Month
Brahms Variations on a Theme by Paganini, Op 35 Ravel La valse D
Scarlatti Keyboard Sonatas K380; K466 Stravinsky Three Movements
from Petrushka
Yuja Wang makes light of music that would daunt most others
BY BRYCE MORRISON

Time was when many celebrated pianists quailed before certain works. Myra Hess sat bemused in front of Beethovens
Hammerklavier Sonata, not daring to play it in public. Until Horowitz took it so formidable in hand the Liszt Sonata
was considered unplayable, while Carla Schumann considered Brahmss Paganini Variations witch variations filled
with cruel and unspeakable demands. Not so todays generation; and as on her previous DG album (which
understandably helped her to win the Gramophone Young Artists of the Year Award in 2009) Yuja Wand makes light
even of the fiercest complexity. In Stravinskys Petrushka her youthful verve and jagged accentuation colour every bar
of the Danse russe, and how she relishes the puppets quizzical mood-wings from gaiety to desperation in Chez
Ptrouchka! Here and most of all in La semaine grasse she has a dazzling way of lightening even the heaviest
textures so that her entire performance gleams with an astonishing brilliance and verve. This is even truer of her
Brahms Paganini Variations, making the recording of both books a marginal rather than serious consideration. Try Var
11 from Book 2 or the Variation coda (No 14) to Book 1 and then hear her in Var 12 from Book 2 and you will find her
as musically beguiling as she is breathtakingly fleet. In Ravels La valse her dynamics range from the merest whisper
to an elemental uproar (try the final cataclysmic pages) and as if this was not enough she give us an oasis of clam in
two Scarlatti sonatas. For her, the second (K466 in F minor/C major) is like air after rain and it would be hard to
imagine playing of amore delicate emotional fervour. This entire recital leaves you in no doubt that at 23 Yuja Wang is
already among the most brilliantly gifted of todays pianists.

YUJA WANG
TimeOut Hong Kong June 28, 2010

Yuja Wang at Cultural Centre


BY SATOSHI KYO

Yuja Wang was fast, fierce, fearless and totally fantastic.


In an all-Russian programme led by Chinese conductor Muhai Tang, the concert hall was packed and I suspect that this
had a lot to do with the Chinese pianist Yuja Wang.
The first half of the concert was all-Prokofiev with Symphony No. 1 in D, Op. 25 (Classical) opening the evening.
Prokofiev composed the Symphony No. 1 in the style of Haydn, thus is considered as a one of the earliest neo-classical
compositions. While the orchestra may not have been cohesive enough, the dynamics were beautifully delivered
ensuring that it imparted the cheerful disposition of the piece and that it didnt tip over to sounding like a pastiche.
The most awaited Prokofievs Piano Concerto No. 3 in C, Op. 26 followed. The Piano Concerto No. 3 is Prokofievs
most popular and critically acclaimed piano concerto and for very good reasons. It exudes snappy energy wherein
gorgeous lyrical passages are punctuated with clever dissonances. And this, Yuja Wang took on like a predatory bird on
prey.
The name of the game was speed. Never had I heard the piano concerto, and I mean all three movements, played in
such pace. Amazingly, instead of sounding rushed, it resonated vigor and drama. Yuja, while fearless was never
reckless, her playing was a combination of technical excellence and interpretive gift. The audience adored her and was
relentless in their applause. Yuja gave two encores.
What came after the interval was Rimsky-Korsakovs Scheherazade, Op. 35, a symphonic suite based on 1001 Nights.
Here, maestro Tang held the orchestra together tightly and it sounded the most unified of the whole evening. While all
solo parts were dispatched beautifully, I cant help but yearn for a more red-blooded and extreme account of the piece.

YUJA WANG
San Francisco Chronicle June 22, 2010

Yuja Wang plays with poetry, precision


BY JOSHUA KOSMAN

Pianist Yuja Wang wound up her San Francisco visit Sunday night with a solo recital in Herbst Theatre that marked the
latest installment in an unbroken, and growing, string of musical triumphs. With her, there just doesn't seem to be any
other kind.
At 23, Wang doesn't merely provide listeners with technically dazzling and heart-stoppingly beautiful accounts of the
keyboard repertoire, she seems to be redefining what is possible with the instrument.
By the traditional calculus of musical performance, after all, virtuosity as arresting as Wang's is expected to come at a
cost - namely, a certain mechanical quality that slights depth of expression in favor of precision and speed. Conversely,
the most eloquent poets of the piano are rarely the ones who can hit the notes with blinding dexterity.
Wang continues to jettison all those trade-offs. She just walks onstage and does it all.
Sunday's San Francisco Performances program, rescheduled from April, was yet another case in point. In three
Schubert-Liszt song transcriptions to open the evening, Wang paid full homage to both composers. Her readings
reminded a listener of how tender and dramatically resonant Schubert's original songs are and of how ingeniously Liszt
captured those qualities in his versions for the piano alone.
Schumann's "Symphonic Etudes" emerged as a bravura display of ferocity and scope, capturing the work's variety and
scale without making it sound bombastic or slighting its potential for intimacy. One of Wang's many gifts, on particular
display here, is the ability to play at top volume without banging; her dynamic palette is a true marvel.
Working at the other end of that palette, she infused Scriabin's "Pome" in F-Sharp, Op. 32, No. 1, with a lighter-thanair quality, as well as a spirit of improvisatory wonder that made the music seem to shimmer and float. Other selections
in her Scriabin set, including the unpredictable B-Minor Prelude, Op. 13, No. 6, sounded fierce and confident.
Finally, as a sort of summation, there was Prokofiev's Sixth Sonata, in an astounding performance that ran through all
the work's many moods - from the abrupt, pugnacious opening Allegro to the slow, musky chords of the waltz
movement and ultimately to the light-fingered sprint of the finale.
The encores - Chopin's Waltz in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 64, No. 2, and Scarlatti's G-Major Sonata, K. 455 - were brief and
magnificent.
Yuja Wang is the sort of musician whose combination of talents appears in the world only rarely. It is our own good
fortune to be here when it happens.

YUJA WANG
San Francisco Chronicle June 19, 2010

Yuja Wang, San Francisco Symphony


BY JOSHUA KOSMAN

The only problem with the tremendous artistry of pianist Yuja Wang is figuring out how to get enough of it. One
concerto's worth of her dazzling keyboard technique and crisp interpretive personality only whets a listener's appetite
for more.
Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony cracked that difficulty in Davies Symphony Hall on
Thursday night, packing the first half of their program with not one, not even two, but three full-scale pieces featuring
the young Chinese-born virtuoso.
That should be enough to hold even her hardiest fans - at least until Sunday night, when Wang winds up a marathon
visit with a solo recital in Herbst Theatre, courtesy of San Francisco Performances.
For her Symphony stint, Wang took center stage for two works of nearly identical vintage, Stravinsky's 1929 Capriccio
and Ravel's Concerto for the Left Hand from the following year. But first, she and Thomas shared a piano bench for a
vivacious account of Poulenc's Sonata for Piano Four Hands.
That's a whirlwind of a showpiece, densely packed with percussive effects and intricate hand-crossings that lead up to a
delectable O. Henry punch line. Thomas wisely ceded the lead to Wang, who tore through Poulenc's thickets of notes
with demonic precision, although both players found room to bring out the faux-naif tenderness of the slow movement.
Stravinsky's brisk, brittle entertainment, a concerto in all but name, could not have been more tailor-made for Wang's
distinctive brand of exuberant showmanship. She raced through the two outer movements in a flurry of impeccable
passagework - sometimes leaving Thomas and the orchestra to eat her dust - and brought dry but full-bodied wit to the
rhapsodic slow movement.
Yet her finest showing came right before intermission, with a reading of the Ravel that was at once big-boned and
focused, lyrical and edgy. Wang's technical prowess showed to wondrous effect in the swift parallel chords of the
scherzo and the expansive passagework of the outer sections, which combine Chopinesque accompaniment and
luscious melodies in the work of a single hand.
Even more striking, though, was the rhetorical directness she brought to the music, from the grandiose opening pages to
the gorgeous, rippling textures of the final cadenza.

Congratulations to Joyce Yang and Yuja Wang, recipients of the 2010 Avery Fisher Career Grants. These
talented young pianists were awarded $25,000 prizes yesterday evening in a ceremony at Lincoln Center.
Previous recipients of this prestigious prize include Carter Brey, James Ehnes, Leila Josefowicz, Jeffrey Kahane,
and Edgar Meyer. Please join us in congratulating these gifted young women on this admirable
accomplishment.
April 28, 2010: Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts announced pianists Joyce Yang, Kirill Gerstein, Yuja Wang,
and David Aaron Carpenter (viola) as the four 2010 Avery Fisher Career Grant recipients.
On April 28th at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Nathan Leventhal, the Program's Chairman, Charles Avery
Fisher and Nancy Fisher announced four 2010 Avery Fisher Career Grant recipients:
David Aaron Carpenter, violist; Kirill Gerstein, pianist;
Yuja Wang, pianist; Joyce Yang, pianist
The Avery Fisher Artist Program, established by the late Avery Fisher as part of a major gift to Lincoln Center in 1974,
serves as a monument to Mr. Fishers philanthropy and love of music, with the Career Grants in particular
exemplifying his devotion to helping young artists. Since the first Career Grants were given in 1976, 118 have been
awarded (including this years grants), and all recipients are currently working musicians. Identified early in their
careers, among former Career Grant recipients are Carter Brey, James Ehnes, Leila Josefowicz, Jeffrey Kahane, and
Edgar Meyer.
Festivities were held at Lincoln Centers Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse for an invited audience. This years
announcement, made by the Programs Chairman Nathan Leventhal, along with Charles Avery Fisher and Nancy
Fisher (children of the late Avery Fisher), and performances by three of the four recipients were taped for broadcast by
Classical 105.9 WQXR ~ FM, with host Robert Sherman, to be aired on Wednesday, May 12th, from 9 - 10 pm. The
fourth recipient, Kirill Gerstein, was unable to participate due to his performance schedule. The 2010 awards mark the
31st time WQXR has broadcast these festivities, having been a broadcast partner since the first Career Grants were
awarded in 1976. This year, WNET SundayArts will also be featuring the 2010 recipients.
Under the banner of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Avery Fisher Artist Program has launched a new
website as of March 2009. Information about the Program (Avery Fisher Prize and Career Grants), is available online at
www.averyfisherartistprogram.org. Links to todays 2010 Career Grant performances, as well as select past recipients
Career Grant ceremony performances, are also available on this website.
Avery Fisher Career Grants of the Avery Fisher Artist Program are designed to give professional assistance and
recognition to talented instrumentalists as well as chamber ensembles who the Recommendation Board and Executive
Committee of the Avery Fisher Artist Program believe to have great potential for major careers. The award stipend is
$25,000. This amount is made available to each recipient, to be used for specific needs in furthering a career.
Recognizing the need for video in a young career, the Avery Fisher Artist Program, with the aid of Live From Lincoln
Centers Executive Producer John Goberman, provides recipients with an unrestricted DVD of the days performance
to aid them in publicizing their work.

Yuja Wang
April 28, 2010
page 2 of 2
Up to five Avery Fisher Career Grants may be given each year with recipients being U.S. citizens or permanent U.S.
residents. Recipients are nominated by the Program's Recommendation Board, which comprises nationally known
instrumentalists, conductors, composers, music educators, managers and presenters. Final selections are made by the
Executive Committee, whose members are: Emanuel Ax, pianist; David Finckel and Wu Han, Artistic Directors,
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; Henry Fogel, Dean, Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt
University; Anthony Fogg, Artistic Administrator, Boston Symphony Orchestra; Pamela Frank, violinist; Ara
Guzelimian, Provost and Dean, The Juilliard School; Nathan Leventhal, Chairman, Avery Fisher Artist Program;
Reynold Levy, President, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; Yo-Yo Ma, cellist; Zarin Mehta, President and
Executive Director, New York Philharmonic; Jane S. Moss, Vice President, Programming, Lincoln Center for the
Performing Arts; and Joseph W. Polisi, President, The Juilliard School. Mrs. Avery Fisher, Charles Avery Fisher and
Nancy Fisher are advisors to the Executive Committee. The Program periodically also awards the Avery Fisher Prize.
The Avery Fisher Artist Program is grateful to Lincoln Center, Inc., and its president Reynold Levy for continued
support.

YUJA WANG
IONARTS May 24, 2010

Yuja Wang @ Sixth and I


BY CHARLES T. DOWNEY

Chinese-born, Curtis-trained pianist Yuja Wang is all of 23 years old, but she has already given so many striking
performances in the Washington area: a stunning 2008 WPAS recital, accomplished performances of the Higdon piano
concerto and Prokofiev second with the National Symphony, as well as the Prokofiev first and Liszt first in Baltimore -indeed, she is coming back next season with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to play Rachmaninoff. In her latest recital
appearance with Washington Performing Arts Society, on Saturday night at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, she gave the
one of the most viscerally thrilling and musically profound performances yet to reach my ears. It was noteworthy both for its
technical fierceness, with a few fatigued slips appearing only at the end of the last work on the program, Prokofiev's sixth
sonata, and for its carefully calculated architectural orderliness.
Wang opened the recital with three of Liszt's outrageous arrangements of Schubert Lieder. The melody of each song, often
marooned in the middle of increasingly complex accompanying textures, soared in a flowing legato as if sung by a voice.
Pensive yet agitated arpeggiation percolated through Gretchen am Spinnrade, cascading notes murmured in Auf dem Wasser
zu singen, and the menacing king's passages in Der Erlknig had an elfin, razor-sharp grace. Far from being simple pieces for
the performer to warm up on, Liszt's settings make terrifying demands, making one hand or the other cross to add brilliant
flourishes or creating great sonic outbursts in roiling octaves, nowhere with more abandon than in Der Erlknig. A Scriabin
set opened the second half, ranging from a poetic B minor prelude (op. 13/6), with its lost wisps of melody, to the almost
expressionistic savagery of the G# minor etude (op. 8/9). Two of the softest moments of the evening came here, in the
ethereal mistiness of the G# minor prelude (op. 11/12) and the reverie of the F# minor Pome (op. 32/1), with its wisps of
curling smoke forming a halo around eyes lost in thought.
If Maurizio Pollini's recital earlier this month was the best way to mark the Chopin anniversary this year, Wang
commemorated the anniversary of Schumann's birth par excellence with her performance of the composer's Symphonic
Etudes, op. 13. Wang restored three of the variations cut from the set by Schumann, and published in later editions after the
composer's death. Judging by this performance, Wang will likely make an indispensable recording of this work one day.
With the tempi stretched for dramatic effect, even a truly breathtaking "Presto possibile" in the ninth etude, she drew out
each character, tender or rueful, martial or manic, dancing over the keys and delighting in the rhythmic shifts and jabbed
accents. Wang had a similar approach to the Prokofiev sixth sonata, digging into the loud and fast passages with barbaric
savagery, giving sharp-fingered irony to the grotesque march of the second movement and a carnivalesque playfulness to the
last movement, more humorous than vicious.
A generous selection of four encores revisited all of these strengths: the soaring line of Gluck's Mlodie (Giovanni
Sgambati's arrangement of a tune from Orfeo ed Euridice), the athletic vigor of a Scarlatti G major sonata (L. 209 / K. 455),
the blistering virtuosity and cartoon-like looniness of Cziffra's arrangement of Johann Strauss, Jr.'s Tritsch-Tratsch Polka (the
work is indeed associated with the cartoon Tom and Jerry), and the palate-cleansing dissonance of Danse russe (the first part
of Stravinsky's Three Movements from Petrouchka). The only regret at this recital was the sound of the piano, a Steinway
rented for the occasion, which had a fairly good tone, a reliable una corda pedal, but something clanging and rattling in the
middle to lower registers' mechanism that added disturbingly to Wang's already percussive touch.
The final WPAS concert of the season at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue will feature cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist
Inon Barnatan (June 15, 8 pm).

YUJA WANG
Washington Post May 24, 2010

Breathtaking Wang delivers in DC recital


BY JOE BANNO

It will be a very long time before Washington audiences hear a more riveting performance of Prokofiev's Piano Sonata
No. 6 than the one Yuja Wang gave at her WPAS recital Saturday at the Sixth and I Synagogue. Quivering and
sparking as if electricity had been shot through it, the sonata began and ended with playing of steely precision and
pulverizing attack. But Wang lightened her touch and calibrated her dynamics enough in the second movement to tease
out its wry humor and elfin mischief, and she brought a brooding concentration to the slow movement without reducing
the performance's charged atmosphere by a single volt.
In a world of showboating conservatory-fresh virtuosos, calling this 23-year-old Chinese phenom a firebrand would
mean nothing special. But beyond the sheer spectacle of all that galvanic power coming from a waifishly slender young
woman with a shaggy mane of model hair and club-kid threads, there are the more enduring qualities in evidence of a
sharp musical mind and a poetic soul. Scriabin's Pome in F-sharp, Op. 32, No. 1, was as diaphanous and lovingly
phrased on Saturday's program as that composer's G-sharp Minor Etude, Op. 8, No. 9, was coruscating. And in three
Liszt transcriptions of Schubert songs, the urgent vocal lines were always clear and shapely, most notably in a vividly
dramatic "Der Erlknig."
Throughout the evening, the two names that kept coming to mind were Vladimir Horowitz and Martha Argerich -- both
of them, like Wang, known for the emotional volatility of their readings, as well as a speed and dexterity that turns
pianism into an extreme sport. (One of Wang's encores -- Gyorgy Cziffra's loopy deconstruction of Johann Strauss's
"Tritsch-Tratsch" Polka -- was so stunningly virtuosic, I still can't quite believe what I heard.) I'm sure that for some,
Wang's reading of Schumann's Symphonic tudes could have traded more on autumnal warmth and classical restraint.
But this is a young composer's score, and this pianist -- allowing for some brittleness and overeager pedaling in the
work's more manic movements -- mined its exuberant spirit while doing an unusually fine job of revealing its
architectural shape.
Wang is a pianist of rare gifts. But in this age of instant access, you can judge her for yourself: Check out the YouTube
videos of her playing the Liszt/Schubert, the Cziffra and the finale of the Prokofiev. I dare you not to click "Replay."

Yuja Wang
Tokafi.com May 4, 2010

Concert Review/ Yuja Wang


BY PATRICK P.L. LAM

Live at Koerner Hall, Toronto, May 1st 2010


Yuja Wang, Piano
Schubert-Liszt: Gretchen am Spinnrade
Schubert-Liszt: Auf dem Wasser zu singen
Schubert-Liszt: Der Erlknig
Schumann: Symphonic Etudes, Op.13
Scriabin: Prelude in B Major, Op.11 No.11
Scriabin: Prelude in B Minor, Op.13 No.6
Scriabin: Prelude in G Sharp Minor, Op.11 No.12
Scriabin: Etude in G Sharp Minor, Op.8 No.9
Scriabin: Pome in F Sharp Major, Op.32 No.1
Prokofiev: Piano Sonata No.6 in A Major, Op.82
The life of a classical artist has never gotten easier, despite the deceivingly glamorous extravagance on the surface. Speak
to any professional musician, and one can quickly attest that this road has only become increasingly difficult in our young
generation of musicians than it used to be a century ago. Solid technique is a must; a wide-spanning repertory is an asset.
But, ultimately what distinguishes the good to the great ones often lies in this special trait called musicianship,
while the great from the exceptional are those who acquired this trait early on in their careers and steadily shape it
into something special. Here is a quality that is very much a prodigious talent as it cannot be strictly taught; only guided
by the wisdom of teachers.
From Domenico Scarlatti to Jennifer Higdon, the 23 year-old Yuja Wang has given dbut recitals that captured no less
accolades as a star is born (Le Droit, 2005) and jaw-dropping technique (Washington Post, 2008). But, what identifies
Wang from her peers above all is a musicianship that is rare in her breed. Her musicianship is one identified by her innate
acuity to sound and her immediate association to transform into a palette of musical colors on the piano; all of which are
coupled to her beautiful sense and control of rhythm that is likely influenced by her interests in Jazz. These aspects of her
pianism have attracted pianophiles much like uncovering clues to an interesting detective mystery.
Contrary to the program listing, Wang opened with the Liszt transcriptions to three Schubert Lieder. Beginning with
Gretchen am Spinnrade, Wang established the emotional atmosphere of the Goethe text with her sweeping left-hand
accompaniment, while her right-hand shaped the principal vocal line leading to an intense build-up of fortissimo chords to
reflect the emotional breakdown of Gretchen. The Auf dem Wasser zu singen likewise evoked an interesting dialogue of
episodes set against an exchange of major and minor keys; this Wang achieved with an embellishment of different tone
colors on the Hamburg Steinway. At times, one may have wanted her melodic line on the right hand to sing out more
passionately by comparison to her accompaniment on the left, which at times were succumb to heavy-weightedness. The
devilish Liszt-transcription of Der Erlknig illustrated Wang's faculty as a story-teller on her instrument, wherein she took
full advantage of the technical embellishments of the original score and its interchange of melodic lines between the high
register (representing the sick child) and the lower register (representing the galloping rider) to enhance the narrative

Yuja Wang
Tokafi.com May 4, 2010
page 2 of 2
excitement of the awe-inspiring text. Thanks to a reminder from the authors concert buddy (Henry, that's you!), one may
also detect a Horowitzian-trait that may have inspired Wang in her own interpretation of this transcription. For example,
in the last clause of the fourth stanza, following a long passagework on the sustained pedal, Wang characteristically
articulated this bass passage with an absence on this pedal to musically resemble what would be equivalent to "The wind
rustles through dry leaves." This, and other instances, were done tastefully.
From Schubert-Liszt, Wang turned to Schumann's Symphonic Etudes, which is a relatively "new" collection that she has
begun introducing into her regular concertizing programming. While master pianists such as Gza Anda, Sergio
Fiorentino, Nelson Freire, or Maurizio Pollini each made a signature out of their performances of this work, Wang
provided no less a thought-provoking interpretation on this collection. Her choice of selecting 3 of the 5 posthumous
variations (Nos. 2, 3, 5) and inserting them isolated within the twelve etudes (rather than presenting them coherently as a
quintuplet) was perhaps chosen in this manner to highlight a stark contrast between the innovative characters of each
Etude subgroup and a resolution rhythmically to the high-spirits preceding each variation. Schumanns spontaneous
passion and lyricism, notorious in his fantasy pieces, were brought out in various shades of colour by Wang. Intelligent
she was to shape the exquisite harmonic dialogues between Etudes I and II, then a seemingly knight-errant gallantry in her
attaca approaches of the sfozandi in the Etude IV, and at the end she brought out those dazzling staccatos in the fanfarelike finale of the Etude XII. Overall, Wang intelligently combined her pianistic virtuosity with all the possible timbres out
of her instrument. By drawing on her strengths with expressions of freedom and fantasy and a faculty with rhythmic drive,
Wang transformed Schumanns solo collection as an oeuvre for imaginary orchestra. Had Tchaikovsky lived to witness
Wangs performance, it might as well propelled the composer to arrange the remainder ten Etudes for orchestra.
Pianophiles will have to keep an eye for her Symphonic Etudes in Wangs forthcoming recording plans.
Wang selected five Scriabin pieces that was in contrast to listings on the concert program. Rather than focusing on mere
pyrotechnics over the keyboard, she uncovered the intimate aspects of her pianism to the public presenting this short but
varied program in an unifying thread. This was Wangs capsulated view of the development to Scriabins early Romantic
piano style, and showed both the composers (and pianists) influence to Chopin, Liszt, Wagner and love of French music.
Wang presented the earlier Etude and Preludes with expressionistic details and vivid textures core to Scriabins piano
music. In a gradient, she reached a high point with the melancholic Pome Op. 32 No.1 where Wang did the composer full
justice by illustrating the progressive breakdown of tonal harmony and rhythmic regularity in Scriabins music. Most
beautiful was her articulation in the final few bars of the Pome, where her pianissimo notes filled the Koerner Hall with
mysticism and evoked an almost nostalgic glance into the past. What was a major highlight in her recital was saved to the
end with Prokofievs Sonata No.6, the first of three War Sonatas written in 1939. Despite recent reports concerning a sore
arm, Wang probed directly into the unusual harmonic coloration of the first movement, with the main motif that
culminates the entire work filled with rhythmic energy. One might have wished for more vulgar and rawness in order to
enforce the oomph at times, but nonetheless, she provided a weightless, sweet, almost fragile subsidiary theme that
served a striking contrast to this muscular main theme. The Allegretto displayed Wangs free exploitation on the scores
witty effects, while she endorsed the slow waltz of the third movement with necessary rhythmic jest and lyricism. The
Vivace finale started dramatic, sombre even severe, and being a good narrator of her instrument, Wang pushed the tension
with concluding fortissimo chords that descended like thunderbolts from the Titans.
Yuja Wang gave no less than three encores including a beautifully-rendered Chopin Waltz in C Sharp Minor, a
Horowitizian-inspired Scarlatti Sonata in G, and her ever so favourite reworking on Mozart-Volodoss Turkish March.
With her new CD, Transformation out in mid-April and a new disc on Rachmaninoff (/w Claudio Abbado) due for future
release, it begs the question whether one will have the good fortune to revisit some of the piano works tonight in her third
solo album on Deutsche Grammophon. Lets hope the wait wont be too long.

Yuja Wang
The Vancouver Sun May 14, 2010

Yuja Wang gives extraordinary performance


BY DAVID GORDON DUKE

Celebrating the Vancouver Recital Society with Yuja Wang


23-year-old Yuja Wang is the most talked-about emerging classical pianist since Lang Lang. Vancouver audiences had
an opportunity to assess her blazing presence Thursday evening in an extraordinary program celebrating 30 years of the
Vancouver Recital Society.
Wang's playlist of music by German and Russian composers was anything but a selection of conventional crowdpleasers. She began with three Schubert songs transformed by Franz Liszt. Liszt creates the illusion of a singing voice
floating over a dense web of accompanying textures; his complex effects are both pianistically intricate and
emotionally supercharged. Wang made child's play of any technical challenges and emphasized the intrinsic drama of
the songs: her chilling Der Erlknig had an almost Expressionistic edge.
Schumann's Symphonic Etudes followed. Big technique is merely the minimum requirement for this commanding but
sometimes treacherous work; keeping the sequence of variational tudes meaningfully connected and giving them
variety makes for an emotional, intellectual and technical tour de force. Wang displayed a rich pallette of colours and a
range of appropriate ideas. Her effects were clean, and she enjoyed seemingly limitless energy as she coupled
staggering agility with astonishing power.
Five pieces by Scriabin offered a measure of relief from the general intensity of the programquiet, ultra-sensitive
treatments of several of his more aphoristic preludes. Scriabin's moody F-sharp minor Pome was a pivotal moment in
this carefully planned recital, a portal between eras, closing out her exploration of Romantic repertoire and leading us
into the troubled world of the recent past in Prokofiev's 1940 Sixth Sonata.
Many contemporary performances of the Russian master's work offer steely brilliance but little more. That Wang has
both the prowess and sound to tackle the sonata is a given. What made her performance so extraordinary is how she
illuminated the full range of Prokofiev's material: all the brash dissonances and driving rhythms, but also the sly
humour (with its aftertaste of malice) and the hushed intimacies. There was an intricately calibrated succession of great
moments, but the overall form was absolutely explicit. Wang's understanding of this often unpleasant but thrilling
masterwork can only be called preternatural.
No one can say exactly where Yuja Wang's career might take her. What we can say is that she's the real thing: an artist
of precocious insight, astonishing technique, and amazing talent.

Yuja Wang
Philadelphia Inquirer April 25, 2010

One fine number


In demand as a pianist since age 16, courted by fashion designers, Yuja Wang plays - and lives - with a
spirit of independence.
BY DAVID PATRICK STEARNS

NEW YORK - Pianist Yuja Wang often seems to be stalked by fame.


No matter how casually she appears to have wandered into a brilliant international career, Wang, now 23, began
landing major concert opportunities at 16 while still a student at the Curtis Institute of Music. Cut to last year, when she
made her recording on the prestigious Deutsche Grammophon label and won her first Grammy nomination. Then she
parachuted into the 2009 Lucerne Festival opening-night concert playing Prokofiev under the magisterial baton of
Claudio Abbado - while attracting "best new artist" titles like a magnet. And she's accomplished all this without a major
competition prize (although studying at Curtis under the well-connected Gary Graffman didn't hurt).
"Lots of fashion people want to dress me in concert," Wang said the other day in New York, where she now makes her
home. "We're living in a commercial world. It's inevitable that this is going to happen. But it's not going to enrich me,
it's going to distract me. Music is my main interest, and as long as I keep that going. . . ."
A pity, in a way, given her fashion-model silhouette. "But you always have to wear their dress," she said. "It's a
commitment. And I just don't want to commit."
Her stubborn independence, keen observational powers, and hunger for discoveries come as no surprise to those who
watched Wang during her Curtis years (2002 to 2008). In a world where concert programs are etched in stone a year in
advance, her Kimmel Center recital on Thursday is fluid. She announces composers but decides only in the weeks
before the concert what speaks most to her. As of late last week, her Web site and the Kimmel Center's disagreed on
what she would play Thursday.
Though Chopin is one of her core composers, she turned down some July concerts in her native China because of an
all-Chopin stipulation. She doesn't take orders well. "So I'm going to play three recitals in Taiwan," she says. "I'm sure
they won't like that."
Outwardly, there's nothing defiant about Wang's easygoing, laughter-prone manner - belying a penetrating sadness in
her eyes that suggests the price of such independence. Having been a star student at Beijing's Central Conservatory, she
immigrated to the United States at age 14 without the usual protective parents in attendance. Though Curtis assigned
her a surrogate family to which she grew close, she mostly lived on her own in Philadelphia.
Wang creates family around her: When on tour with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields a few years ago, she loved
being part of the band. Mostly, though, she travels alone, and is one of the few young musicians to do so. "Nobody
wants to come with me," she says. "Nobody can keep up with me!"
She seems rather waifish to be a road warrior - or an interpreter of leonine Russian repertoire. "One stupid reviewer
said, 'She looks like she could barely hold a cup of tea,' " says Wang. "They don't understand how I could look like I'm
15 and play these big Russian pieces."

Yuja Wang
Philadelphia Inquirer April 25, 2010
page 2 of 3
Siding with the Philistines, one has to wonder how she produces that sound. "It's the intention of wanting so much
sound," she said.
An anatomical answer, please? "There are so many ways of playing piano. My mom is a dancer. For her, the
physicality of playing the piano is rooted under the feet," she said. "Later, it went up here, to the diaphragm. 'Loud' is
not what I'm looking for, but to have a nice sound. . . ."
Wang shocked National Public Radio listeners by saying she doesn't necessarily love her chosen instrument, but that's
not quite what she meant. She's about self-expression, and piano happens to be her best way of achieving that,
especially since she learns repertoire far faster than most of her colleagues - and thus can spend much time pursuing her
interests in visual arts and church architecture. To cope with constant pressure, she convinces herself that her career is
an extremely important hobby - a virtuosic rationalization in the face of a schedule that barely gives her consecutive
days off. "This is a mess because I said 'yes' to everything two years ago," she moans.
Certain mentors keep her inner life rich. Though her off-podium dealings with conductor Abbado (who conducts her
next CD, of Rachmaninoff concertos) are limited given his post-cancer state of health, she counts her time with him in
Lucerne as one of the best periods of her life. Whenever possible, she works with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas,
who suggests such offbeat repertoire as the Stravinsky Capriccio and gives her entire residencies, to play concertos
with his San Francisco Symphony plus chamber music with him.
The Philadelphia Orchestra's chief conductor, Charles Dutoit, is a tougher mentor. When she asked if he'd coach her on
Liszt's Sonata in B minor, Dutoit pelted her with questions: Had she looked at other editions of the piece? Had she read
the Faustian literature that inspired Liszt? Wang came back having read Goethe as well as Thomas Mann's Doctor
Faustus. "I was very touched that she made that effort," Dutoit said.
Ultimately, her greatest resource is herself. The most distinctive performance on her new CD Transformation is
Scarlatti's Sonata in F minor - a brief, songful work she infuses with a melancholy that couldn't have come from
historic research. Where did such a complete and convincing remaking of the music come from?
When she plays the piece, Wang explained, she's 13 again, practicing for what she knew was her last recital in China
before going to North America to study. She remembers the smells of her Beijing home, the bleak yet cleansing rain
that day, her frustration at not coming to terms with the sonata and wanting to be outdoors and beyond her inner
struggle.
Struggle, she now knows, is her friend. "The more comfortable I am onstage, the more the performance turns out good
but nothing special," she said. "When there are so many things I wanted to do but didn't get it, when I have that
unattainable feeling onstage, people go crazy."
As for her outer life, she jokes that she would rather have a dog than a boyfriend. But with her travel schedule, a
boyfriend is more viable, hers being New York Philharmonic trumpeter Matthew Muckey, whom she has nicknamed
"M&M." Her own preoccupation with creating a high-quality sound is reflected by her description of his: "The way he
plays, it's almost like an oboe, it's so melodic and lyrical." The loneliness of separation is eased somewhat by one of his
bon-voyage gifts - a laptop with Web cam.
In her 4 a.m. moments, though, she is most haunted by the aggressively forthcoming generation of Chinese pianists,
among whom the trailblazing Lang Lang is considered pass.

Yuja Wang
Philadelphia Inquirer April 25, 2010
page 3 of 3
"Generation after generation, they just get better and better. That's an inevitable fact," she says. "It's all about the
subconscious mind. If you've heard the Brahms second piano concerto when you're 12, it's different from having heard
it when you're 4. They take it in at such a young age. And it grows. . . .
"One of these days, I'm going to be the old one."

Yuja Wang
Philadelphia Inquirer April 30, 2010

Yuja Wang at the Kimmel Center


BY PETER DOBRIN

It's extremely unlikely that the piece has been written Yuja Wang can't play. For her, there is no repertoire too steep to
conquer. The technique is simply off the charts. That all this piano brawn emanates from the elfin frame of a 23-yearold recent Curtis Institute of Music graduate somehow multiplies the wonder.
She programmed wisely for her current recital tour, which, after cancellations in California due to a sore arm,
continued Thursday night at the Kimmel Center. Verizon Hall was stocked (if far from capacity) with friends from her
Philadelphia days, and, to judge from the applause between movements, a lot of classical newbies. She gave them what
they came for - intense athleticism, a winsome stage persona, and grateful bows so deep you feared she might hit her
head on the piano bench.
The meat of the program was Prokofiev's Sonata No. 6, which, in this marriage of pianist and work, might as well have
been composed for her. It asks for everything - abrupt exactitude in the first movement, light-hearted relief in the
second, a dreaming-in-sound third, and a fourth movement of canny pacing and order. There's nothing untraditional in
her approach, but the piece did open promising peeks into the personality of this still-emerging musician - a touch of
mischief in the second movement's jolly left-hand melody, and some deeply felt emotion as the third movement floats
off.
Schumann's Symphonic Etudes represents a kind of unreachable apogee of technique, but it takes a musical seer to hear
the entire piece in her head at once and divine its essential messages. That's always the challenge with Schumann.
Wang of course has the notes down, and she'll no doubt arrive one day at an original interpretive point of view that
doesn't make the technique an end in itself. In the meantime, I was particularly taken with the way she handled a
section of Mendelssohnian lightness; a machine gun of feathers couldn't have kept pace with Wang. She wisely told
you which notes were important in a slow section that only obliquely refers to the melody.
She also performed Liszt transcriptions of three songs by Schubert, and a selection of Scriabin poems and etudes. But
the most compelling personality arrived not until the encores. Scarlatti's G Major Sonata, K. 455, went at a pace
considerably more manic than the "allegro" marking, but with euphoric results. Hands blurred in the Yuja Wang take
on Volodos' arrangement of Mozart's "Turkish March." For any listener who remembers Horowitz as the supreme
being in repertoire of this kind, here was his heir. She was, in this one piece, as a goddess.

Yuja Wang
The Times March 29, 2010

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Dutoit at the Festival Hall,


London SE1
BY GEOFF BROWN

If I wanted a conductor to strip music naked and bare its soul, I wouldnt automatically think of phoning Charles
Dutoit. But for music spruce in well-tailored clothes, surface attractions glittering, why not? The dapper French
Canadian, now at the helm of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, has been delivering most of these goods with his
dancing baton for well over 30 years.
He delivered most of them again in Wednesdays RPO concert of Russian fireworks. The orchestral ingenuity of
Rimsky-Korsakovs Russian Easter Festival Overture inspired excellently polished and chiselled sounds right from the
beginning, with Clio Goulds violin spiralling like a Russian lark ascending. The only blights were a whiff of pedantry
and a shortfall in festive heat.
We moved closer to the action in Prokofievs Second Piano Concerto, delivered with almost nonchalant finesse by the
23 -year-old Chinese pianist Yuja Wang. Physically she looks just about strong enough to hold a cup of tea, yet she
proved the complete master of Prokofievs torrent of notes, tumbling across the keys.
As for mastering the quixotic feelings behind the notes, this she managed only slightly less well. No doubt, though,
about the anger seething through the first movements hair-raising cadenza. No doubt too that Wang is a serious artist,
on the rise.
With The Firebird that followed, everyone deserved a flower. This was the complete Stravinsky ballet, delivered with
lip-smacking panache. The opening shimmered with mysterious delights: slithering harmonics from the strings; the
bubbling mud of winds and brass.
Was Dutoit keeping each sound in its jewelled compartment, as in Rimskys Russian Festival? It seemed so, briefly.
But as the drama developed and the Firebird flew, so did the temperature. By the time of the Infernal Dance, the
Firebirds lullaby and the final mounting peroration, we were entirely at the musics mercy. A happy night.

Yuja Wang
South Florida Classical Review March 4, 2010

Yuja Wang strikes sparks at Kravis with Russian National


Orchestra
BY LAWRENCE BUDMEN

Pianist Yuja Wang


The world-class Russian National Orchestra was the marquee attraction of the Regional Arts Series Wednesday
matinee at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach. But the real excitement was provided by the extraordinarily gifted
twenty-two year old Chinese pianist Yuja Wang, who gave an electrifying performance of Beethovens Piano Concerto
No. 5 with the Moscow-based ensemble under conductor Patrick Summers.

Yuja Wang
South Florida Classical Review March 4, 2010
page 2 of 2

Wang made an impressive South Florida debut last season playing concertos by Ravel and Stravinsky with the New
World Symphony (and she returns to play Bartoks Piano Concerto No. 2 with the New World under Michael Tilson
Thomas in April).
She possesses a big-boned technique that can meet any challenge, wedded to an arresting musical personality. Wangs
fleet, finely articulated reading of the first movement set the stage for an exciting performance that was not bereft of
poetry. Indeed her dreamy account of the Adagio rang forth with natural, unforced beauty, the pianist unafraid to play
very softly. Wangs vivacious treatment of the final Rondo, marked by hairpin dynamics, both thundered and sparkled;
the triplets dashed off as if mere exercise. This was a young pianists Emperor, lacking the accrued wisdom of a Serkin
or Brendel but no less impressive.

Patrick Summers
Summers, a well-traveled opera conductor, was a sensitive, discerning accompanist. He carefully dovetailed Wangs
shaping of the melodic lines, astutely balancing the orchestral fabric. Favoring brisk tempos, Summers drew exciting
playing from the orchestra, the intonation and perfect execution of the exposed horn parts a standout. Beethovens
Coriolan Overture was an apt curtain-raiser to the Emperor, Summers leading a muscular but blatant and unsubtle
performance.
The Russian orchestras strings have the deep sonority and heft of a great pipe organ while the winds are solid and
distinctive, unmarred by the heavy vibrato that plagued Russian orchestras in the past. With brass that can be
alternately brilliant or mellow, this is an orchestra that can turn on a dime.
The ensemble shone resplendently in Dvoraks Symphony No. 8 in G Major, exhibiting strength in every section from
the first chairs to the last stands. Summers led a robust performance that lacked Czech fire and Brahmsian lyricism but
was effective in a straightforward manner. The conductor managed the big climaxes and minor-key modulations of the
second movement effectively. He brought an extra dose of charm to the Allegretto, introducing Viennese-style slides
between notes in the strings. Concertmaster Alexei Brunis solo in the second movement, marked by generous rubato
and extra tonal sweetness, recalled a past generation of Russian violinists. Summers avoided the temptation to
overemphasize the brass in the finale.
After repeated curtain calls, Summers unleashed the orchestras formidable firepower at top speed in the Dance of the
Buffoons from Tchaikovskys The Snow Maiden with some flashy trumpet work capping the afternoon in high spirits.

Yuja Wang
Sarasota Herald Tribune March 7, 2010

From Russia, with skill


BY RICHARD STORM

The Russian National Orchestra, an independent ensemble, not state-owned, brought enormous skill and excitement to
the Van Wezel on Friday evening, demonstrating again the power of musical energy in the hands of highly motivated
musicians.
Under the athletic leadership of their American guest conductor, Patrick Summers, music director of the Houston
Grand Opera, and belying their moderate size by today's standards, the orchestra produced sound of impressive power
and solidity, transparent and beautifully balanced from top to bottom.
Contrary to expectation, the program included no Russian music until the exuberant encore, a dance from
Tchaikovsky's opera, "The Snow Maiden," in which caution was thrown to the winds and the percussion delivered
infectious Russian rhythmic drive.
Prior to that, however, two iconic works by Beethoven were treated to incisive renditions of memorable clarity and
graceful strength.
The "Coriolan" overture, which begins with a forthright declaration that this is the story of a fallen warrior, soon moves
to touching expression of the sensitive aspects of his nature.
Despite the dry acoustics of the Van Wezel, the audience was bathed in a rich European sound, consistent across all the
voices of the orchestra, in this case disposed on the stage with the violins divided to the left and right of the conductor,
the cellos and violas facing each other, resulting in an unusually tight blend.
Beethoven's beloved Piano Concerto No. 5, known as the "Emperor," followed. This performance, in which Yuja Wang
quite simply blew us away, was characterized by musicianship that transcended virtuosity or flawless technique, both
of which were in ample supply but subsidiary to clarity of expression and respect for the composer's vision.
An austere and lovely experience was the result.
The program was completed by a sumptuous and energetic performance of Antonin Dvorak's endlessly inventive and
somewhat subversive eighth symphony.
As is often the case with this composer, his Bohemian roots burst forth to bend the conventions of Romanticism toward
folkloric expression.
Dance rhythms, off-kilter brass salvos, precise but flexible ensemble -- all these were in generous supply, under
Summers' balletic direction, and resulted in a thrilling performance of this beloved work.
Even a brief bubble in the famous trumpet fanfare that begins the final movement didn't spoil the fun.

Yuja Wang
Denver Post February 25, 2010

Russian orchestra makes triumphant return to Denver


BY KYLE MACMILLAN

The Russian National Orchestra's appearance two years ago in the Newman Center Presents series ranks among
Denver's classical highlights of that season and, indeed, the entire decade.
Memories of that concert, along with the ensemble's ranking in December 2008 by Gramophone Magazine as the
world's 15th greatest orchestra, led to ample anticipation of its return engagement Wednesday in Gates Concert Hall.
Its Denver stop was part of a cross-country tour marking the 20th anniversary of the founding of the ensemble, the only
major Russian orchestra that is privately funded.
Leading the concert two years ago was the orchestra's idiosyncratic principal guest conductor, Vladimir Jurowski, who
drew bold, utterly alive playing from this agile, responsive group of more than 90 musicians.
American guest conductor Patrick Summers, music director of the Houston Grand Opera, took the podium Wednesday.
If he did not attain the emotional depth or visceral intensity of the orchestra's previous visit, he delivered a high-caliber
performance of his own.
Summers conveyed the overall power and sweep of the evening's culminating work, Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky's
Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36. He invested the long opening movement with the requisite moodiness and tension
and ended with a fast probably overly fast take on the finale.
An added attraction was Denver's first opportunity to hear Yuja Wang. The 23-year-old soloist's distinctive
interpretation of Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73, "Emperor," made it clear why
she has caused such a stir in classical circles.
It was possible to quibble with a phrasing here or there, but Wang possesses a nuanced sense of pianistic color and
shape, creating at several points, for example, a wonderful music-box effect in the upper register of the piano.
Wang brought a kind of poetic sensibility to the slow movement, where she and Summers made sure her often hushed
playing was wonderfully balanced with the orchestra's supportive accompaniment.
The young pianist also has a flair for the dramatic, as was evidenced in her breathtaking transition from the slow
section to the high-energy finale, which she dashed off with flair.

Yuja Wang
Richmond Times Dispatch February 16, 2010

Review: Pianist Yuja Wang joins Shanghai Quartet for


passionate performance
BY ANGELA LEHMAN-RIOS

Csar Franck's most passionate work made a fitting centerpiece for a Valentine's Day program by the Shanghai Quartet
and pianist Yuja Wang.
From the very first minute of his Piano Quintet in F minor, when the torrid declarations of the strings are interrupted by
the piano's otherworldly meditations, the Shanghai and Wang gave a performance that perfectly interpreted the drama
of the music.
Like a Victrola operated by a madman, the music stops and starts, shifts tempo and mood, and modulates between keys
and melodic ideas.
The dialogue between human emotion and mechanical action was most clear in the second movement. Wang controlled
the rhythmic pulse, at first soft as a heartbeat below her velvety melody and the strings' swooning one. As the
movement progressed, the musicians increased the pulse's insistence until it became a pistonlike beat in the strings.
Neither Wang nor the quartet backed away from the climax, giving the music not just movement but direction.
Franck's music generally was dismissed by the public in his lifetime. This quintet, dated 1879, has so many passages
that could have been lifted by Philip Glass and other late-20th-century composers that Franck's problem may have been
that he was a hundred years ahead of his time. In any case, the Shanghai Quartet and Wang brought the music fully
alive for this century.
In a departure from the printed program, Wang offered two Domenico Scarlatti sonatas, fresh from her recording
session in Hamburg a few weeks ago. She played with such blazing vitality that one wanted to grab the arm of
whomever one was sitting beside. The high-energy music suited the constitution of the program better than the
originally planned "Vocalise" by Sergei Rachmaninov.
The evening began and ended with pieces that join the worlds of folk music and the performance hall.
The first, "Chinasong: Chinese Folk Songs," brings together various works based on folk melodies, dances and stories,
arranged for string quartet by Shanghai Quartet violinist Yi-Wen Jiang. It's a lovely piece, simple but not simplistic,
that takes full advantage of both the fibrous and the delicate qualities of the Shanghai's sound. One hopes that other
groups in years to come will include it in their standard repertoire.
Antonin Dvork's Piano Quintet in A Major let the Shanghai musicians dig in and play mightily -- even the melodies of
the slower second movement were muscular. Wang's clear, assertive piano complemented the strings' gorgeous texture.
Her trills in the final movement sang as a piano too rarely sings.

Yuja Wang
NPR January 23, 2010

Yuja Wang: A Pinch-Hitter Takes the Lead


Beijing-born pianist Yuja Wang says she started tinkering with the instrument when she was about 6.
Her childhood was filled with the usual child-virtuoso circuit of concerts and competitions in China, Spain and
Germany, and with instruction from top conservatories in the U.S. and Canada.
But by the time she was 18, Wang had carved out an interesting niche for herself as a kind of pinch hitter the one to
call when older, perhaps more seasoned big-name pianists couldn't make it to their engagements.
Now, at 22, Wang is headlining a project of her own: Her debut CD, Sonatas and Etudes, has been nominated for a
Grammy.
"It was very unexpected for me... it's only my first CD," she says in reference to her Grammy nomination. "I actually
found out the next morning on Facebook."
As a child, Wang had a heap of intensive training. Her first concert was at the age of 7, when her feet still dangled from
her chair.
"I had a fake pedal," Wang says with a laugh, "because I couldn't reach. Surprisingly, all of [her childhood
performances] are on YouTube."
In addition to YouTube videos of her early concerts, there's plenty of footage of Wang as an adult, including a
particularly impressive rendition of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee." She says that adding a visual
component to her performances enhances the experience.
"That's why I love live concerts, because you can take the music in aurally and visually," Wang says.
When selecting which pieces to include on her album, Wang says it was important to avoid settling for crowd-pleasers,
and to demonstrate her earnest appreciation for the art.
"[Songs like] 'The Turkish March' and 'Carmen' ... people are impressed by them at first, but I thought about it, and I
wanted to present myself as a serious musician," Wang says. "I mean, those are fun, but what I'm really into are those
lyrical, big, romantic pieces."
With the attention of the classical world and a Grammy nomination, the future looks promising for this 22-year-old.
"I love music," she says. "It is what interests me. It is what intrigues me."

Yuja Wang
Grammophon July 2009

CD Review: Yuja Wang


BY BRYCE MORRISON

A combination of blazing technique and a rare instinct for


poetry
After shenanigans involving several supreme if problematic pianists (problematic in the sense that they chose to record
only occasionally), DG has taken on a stable of largely Eastern artists altogether more eager to set their performances
down for posterity. And make no mistake, 22-year-old Yuja Wang is a wondrously gifted pianist whose debut album of
sonatas by chopin, Liszt and Scriabin, with the stimulating addition of two Ligeti Etudes, suggests a combination of
blazing technique and a rare instinct for poetry. Curtis-trained under Gary Graffman, Wang has spoken of her special
love for music of drama and turbulence and how, ever since first hearing Pollinis recording of the Chopin Etudes, she
dreamt of recording for the Yellow Label.
In Scriabins Second Sonata she is beautifully sensitive to the moods, whether tranquil and starlit or tempestuous,
reflecting the composers love of the Baltic Sea. She is fiery but never reckless in Chopins Second Sonata, off like the
proverbial greyhound at the first doppio movimento, and offers a dramatic bass emphasis at the climax of the heavenstorming development. Her finale is truly sotto voce yet with the widest variety of touch and expression, and for the
most part her playing, while sharply individual, is free from all distorting idiosyncrasy or mannerism.
You wont hear anything on the scale of Richter or Gilels in the Liszt Sonata (see Brilliants recently released Liszt set6/09) but on the other hand Wang is young, wonderfully talented and trained, superbly recorded and, if this disc is
anything to go by, she has the world at her feet. As a crowning touch her Ligeti Etudes are both musicianly and
dazzlingly incisive. In the words of the publicist, a star is born.

Yuja Wang
BBC Music Magazine July 2009

An exceptional debut
BY TIM PARRY

Tim Parry applauds the arrival of pianist Yuja Wang


Sonatas & Etudes by Chopin, Scriabin, Liszt & Ligeti
Yuja Wang (piano)
DG 4778140 74:11 mins

Shes young, attractive, articulate- certainly very marketable for a major record label. But make no mistake, Yuja Wang
is one hell of a pianist. Born in 1987, shes still got a lot of development ahead of her, as this recording to some extent
reinforces, but she has all the equipment to be one of the most exciting pianists of her generation.
As well as a stunning technique she has a fabulous range of sonority and colour (and shes been superbly caught by
DGs engineers). She is also very comfortable with extremes of dynamic and expression, and this gives her playing a
striking intensity.
She gives a powerful account of Chopins Second Sonata, sailing through its notorious difficulties. But there is no need
to distort the music to underline her personal vision, as she does by lowering the bass octaves at the funeral marchs
recapitulation. Her Scriabin is ravishing, although her interpretation doesnt quite seem settled, while the two Ligeti
Etudes, especially Fanfares, suit her dazzling fingerwork perfectly. Pianistically, parts of her Liszt Sonata are
extraordinary, with blistering octaves, razor-sharp articulation and a wonderful tonal richness. At times it feels
emotionally rather distant, and if she doesnt quite engage with this works psychological level, this will come with
time.
Reservations notwithstanding, I urge you to hear this disc. Unquestionably, Yuja Wang is a pianist to watch.

Yuja Wang
The National Post May 5, 2010

Concert Review: Yuja Wang, Toronto


BY ARTHUR KAPTAINIS

What is it about Calgary? I mean, the Flames did not even make the playoffs, but somehow this city cranks out pianists
the way Tim Horton does doughnuts. This week Montrealers hear Jan Lisiecki, 15, Calgary-born and bred. Saturday
night in Toronto I caught Yuja Wang, 23, Beijing-born but educated during her critical teen years at Mount Royal
Conservatory in Calgary. Now she is a major star, Deutsche Grammophon contract, big recitals, major orchestras, the
whole shebang.
Did I say shebang? Wang is indeed a formidable technician, a step ahead of many players we suppose to be
considerably more than acceptable in this department. To hear the explosive right-hand octave triplets in Liszts
transcription of Schuberts Erlknig juxtaposed with the thunderous rising theme in the left was to be was to be put in
mind of some of the biggies of the last century. (Vladimir Horowitz was a very big influence on me, Wang told BBC
Music Magazine. Is that a fact?) Agitated bits in Schumanns Symphonic Etudes were about as rapid and impeccably
punctuated as they could be. Nor did the spacier posthumous numbers lack anything in delicacy. Was there some
element of philosophy missing in the midrange? Or is this just the impression inevitably made by a player who operates
so potently at the extremes?
Maybe all the emotional toggling in Schumann made a similarly hot-and-cold sequence of six Scriabin pieces (as
opposed to the 11 promised by the program) seem a tad predictable after intermission. Then came Prokofievs Sixth
Sonata, as macho as can be imagined in the outer movements, yet quixotic in the Allegretto and warmly expansive in
the waltz. Think of names like Kissin and Pogorelich among living pianists if you want to make a meaningful
comparison. Yuja Wang is that good.
Among her encores was a ludicrously (if amusingly) pyrotechnic fantasy by Arcadi Volodos on Mozarts Rondo Alla
Turca, apparently further modified by Wang herself. And as if to remind us that she has more than fingers to offer, she
produced exquisitely off-beat Chopin Waltz in C Sharp Minor, the long tones elongated and dotted figures punched out
to perfection. This, in its quiet way, was the zenith of the recital for me.
I have not mentioned that all the sound and fury was produced by a tiny woman with short-cropped hair who does not,
to look at her, weigh much over 95 pounds. Nor have I mentioned that the recital happened before a good crowd in
Koerner Hall, the superduper 1135-seater attached to the Royal Conservatory of Music. Wang cancelled her Montreal
Symphony Orchestra gig a few weeks ago because of the proverbial raisons de sant. She appears to have recovered
nicely.

Yuja Wang
Style Magazine April 9, 2009

Now Hear This: Yuja Wang, Sonatas & Etudes (Deutsche


Grammophon)
BY CLARKE BUSTARD

This may be the most eagerly anticipated debut album by a classical pianist in a generation. Yuja Wang, a 22-year-old
from China by way of Philadelphias Curtis Institute of Music, has been stunning audiences and driving critics to their
thesauruses since she was 14.
Wangs first disc reprises music she played two years ago in a University of Richmond concert with Shanghai Quartet
as well as a solo recital there two months later: Franz Liszts massive Sonata in B minor; the shorter but no less
challenging and intense Sonata-Fantasy in G sharp minor by Alexander Scriabin; and two brief but eventful tudes,
Fanfares and The Sorcerers Apprentice, by Gyrgy Ligeti. To those, she adds Frederic Chopins Funeral March
sonata (No. 2 in B flat minor), which resonates in spirit, if not style, through the other works.
This program constitutes a critical mass of technically challenging music for the piano, and Wang produces a 74minute detonation of dazzling finger work, brilliant sprints across the keyboard undergirded by seismic bass lines. Her
energy, power and stamina are awesome; so is her firm grasp of music that could easily spin out of control, especially
at the speedy tempos she takes.
But this is more than a collection of finger-busters: Wang has ordered these pieces into a primer on the art of the
musical fantasy, as developed by the romantics and reflected through modern prisms. By placing the Liszt at the end,
she reminds us that so-called modern harmonic language was spoken in the mid-19th century. Fast and loud as it gets,
however, this music is poetry free verse in sound. Wang gets that, too, phrasing lyrically and airing out phrases with
silences in which the imagination has room to play.

Yuja Wang
The Star Tribune March 16, 2009

Pianist Yuja Wang formidable in Chopin Society recital


BY LARRY FUCHSBERG

I've been known to react allergically to hot young pianists. I deplore the hype heaped upon them and the repertory
choices they're pressured to make. And I weep for the mature, insightful performers sidelined by the music industry's
obsession with youth and technique.
That said, I was bowled over by Yuja Wang's Frederic Chopin Society recital Sunday at Macalester College. At 22, the
Beijing native is well beyond adjectives like "promising" -- she is a finished artist of formidable range and depth. A
student of Gary Graffman at Philadelphia's Curtis Institute, from which she graduated last year, Wang has both the
explosive dexterity we've come to associate with Asian-born pianists and, what is rarer, a poet's sensibility. (She also
shows a laudable independence of taste; she told an interviewer that of Beethoven's piano concertos she likes the
"Emperor" least, finding it "repetitive.")
The first half of Wang's program, which overlapped not at all with her soon-to-be-released dbut CD on Deutsche
Grammophon, established her 18th- and 19th-century credentials. In her opening set of sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti,
the two works in G major (Nos. 427 and 455 in Ralph Kirkpatrick's catalog) were taken needlessly fast, but without
sacrificing articulation or accuracy. The proto-romantic B-minor Sonata (K.87), subtly shaped, offered a foretaste of
the Brahms to come; the E-major (K.380), once a fixture on Vladimir Horowitz's programs, was a paragon of sly
delicacy.
Young pianists are often clueless when it comes to Brahms, but the two books of Brahms' Paganini Variations, his last
big work for solo piano, proved the high point of Wang's recital. These marvelous pieces, thunderous and ethereal by
turns, were treated to a performance of magisterial sweep and tonal refinement; my favorite variation, the dreamy waltz
in Book II, was played unforgettably. If on occasion the pianist overlooked Brahms' implied punctuation, her surging
line carried the day.
Wang's all-Russian, all-20th-century second half included a lucid rendition of Nicolai Medtner's nostalgic "SonataReminiscenza," a spectacular realization of Stravinsky's Three Movements from "Petrouchka," and a less-thanpersuasive account of Alexander Scriabin's erotically charged, ecstasy-seeking Sonata No. 4. These should have left her
prostrate. Yet somehow she found the stamina for two encores, lyric (Gluck-Wang) and pyrotechnic (Mozart-Volodos),
which together served notice that golden-age pianism, so loudly lamented, isn't quite as dead as its mourners suppose.

Yuja Wang
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette March 6, 2009

Agile Wang makes strong PSO debut


BY ANDREW DRUCKENBROD

Move over, Lang Lang. For that matter, step aside, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon": Classical music has a new
Chinese pianist with action hero-like moves: Yuja Wang.
Her Heinz Hall debut yesterday was astounding. I had to stare to make sure the cascading runs, agile jumps and vital
weight in Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 2 that I was hearing were emanating from this slender 21-year-old.
Wang was born in Beijing and studied at the Central Conservatory there and later the Curtis Institute of Music in
Philadelphia.
But her performance with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra was not of the unpolished, raw and potential type. It was
refined, focused and fully kinetic.
It seemed as if she moved preternaturally quickly between notes, so that she arrived with more time than most pianists
to eloquently prepared key moments and then drove them home with fantastic clarity.
Her quickness was married to musicality from the onset. Unlike countryman Lang Lang, she eschewed flamboyancy
and sought to fan the fire already burning in the score.
Case in point is the gargantuan cadenza Prokofiev placed in a peculiar place in the first movement -- that of serving as
the development of the concerto's themes rather than as an add-on at the end.
There's crucial work to be done in this cadenza; it is not just there to dazzle the audience. Wang's treatment obliged. It
was breathtaking in its virtuosity, yet satisfying because she drew out a full range of color even at lightning speeds.
Wang was the orchestra for a few glorious minutes.
Not that the PSO was eclipsed. Under, and at times in spite of, debuting conductor Hannu Lintu, the orchestra set the
table and then provided high-level conversation with Wang. The brass were particularly crisp.
Lintu deserves that substituting head start from the critical hunt. He replaced an ailing Charles Dutoit without changing
any of the programming. The Finnish conductor's day was largely competent, but at times he would offer an ambiguous
beat, and the PSO would more or less play through him.
However, the twist was that this was done with guest concertmaster Jeff Thayer (leader in the San Diego Symphony,
who also showcased some delicate solos) in place of Andres Cardenes.
That meant that performances of Stravinsky's "Dumbarton Oaks" and Debussy's "Afternoon of a Faun" (with vibrant
soloing by flutist Damian Bursill-Hall) and "La Mer" were alternately luminous and clamorous, but never soul-stirring.
That was supplied by the rising star, Yuja Wang

Yuja Wang
Los Angeles Times February 6, 2009

Yuja Wang, the next Chinese sensation


BY MARK SWED

An awakening classical music giant has roared again.


With Lang Lang and Yundi Li already in their mid-20s, the time has come for China to launch its next sensation if it
intends to dominate young pianism (as it clearly does). Her name is Yuja Wang. She will turn 22 on Tuesday. Her
first recording on Deutsche Grammophon (Langs and Lis label) is scheduled to come out in April. Shes gone from
playing minor engagements to big-ticket ones in no time. She apparently dazzles everywhere she appears.
Thursday night at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Wang played Prokofievs big-fisted Second Piano Concerto with the Los
Angeles Philharmonic, under Charles Dutoit, who is one of the celebrity conductors to have taken her under his wing
(Michael Tilson Thomas is another). This was her debut with the full ensemble (she appeared in a chamber music
program with orchestra members two days earlier). It was hardly, though, her West Coast debut. The Philharmonic
Society of Orange County presented her in a recital at UC Irvine when she was 16. No one paid much attention. Now
that presenter looks very prescient.
Wang is slight as a sparrow (a very pretty sparrow), with willowy arms and long, slender fingers. At least I think her
fingers long and her hands unusually large. They moved far too fast to tell. The massive, focused tone she gets from the
piano does not quite seem possible without a massive, muscled frame to produce it or, at the very least, a pair of big,
beefy hands.

Yuja Wang
Los Angeles Times February 6, 2009
page 2 of 2
And then there is the speed and accuracy. These things are hers to command as well, and to an astonishing degree. She
is no less a technical wonder than Lang and Li.
She is not, though, attempting to compete with her superstar elders in the flash department. Hers was a sober,
commanding performance Tuesday that put the music first.
The choice of concerto was an interesting one for several reasons. No one knows quite what to make of this work,
which was not much played until recently. It got a big boost from Li, who recently recorded it with the Berlin
Philharmonic under Seiji Ozawa for a disc that has become a critics favorite.
The concerto will open the Hollywood Bowls classical season in July, with Vladimir Feltsman as soloist.
Written in 1913 when the Russian composer was still a student in St. Petersburg, the full score was lost in the 1917
Revolution, and Prokofiev rewrote the work from the piano part in 1923. The original score was said to have been
daring.
Prokofiev, not Shostakovich, was considered Russia's most promising revolutionary composer by an avant-garde that
was producing Futurist paintings, books and poetry. These artists courted Prokofiev, trying to wean him from less
provocative Russian Modernism to something more out-there, but they got to him too late and then went to work on
Shostakovich as second best. By the '20s, when the Second Concerto was rewritten, Prokofiev had become a more
mainstream European Modernist.
By coincidence, a symposium on Russian Futurism was given earlier Thursday at the Getty Center, in conjunction with
its exhibition on the avant-garde Russian book Tango With Cows. It is a pity the museum didnt hook up with the
L.A. Phil, because this performance of the Prokofiev concerto came much closer to a graphically Constructivist
approach than any I had heard. Li and Ozawa on their Berlin recording make pretty Romantic-tinged music as if for
the Russian bourgeoisie, soft-pedaling any hint of barbarism.
Wang and Dutoit were exciting. Ironically, Dutoits specialty is French music of the period when Prokofiev rewrote
the concerto in Paris, under the citys spell. Still, this was a brilliant, incisive reading from orchestra and soloist.
Prokofiev didnt smooth all the edges - there are still startling stops and starts - and the edginess here was a
stimulant.
Dutoit ended his program with Rimsky-Korsakovs Scheherazade. That was also the work that followed the premiere
of Prokofievs concerto in St. Petersburg in 1913, and it represented a pretty good idea of what the Russian public at
the time felt music should sound like. I doubt, though, that it sounded then anything like it did in Disney.
Dutoit gave the lush score a tart French treatment, bringing out sharply etched colors and making sure every melodic
phrase had the finesse and charm that you find only on the fanciest Parisian boulevards. He fiddled with the extremes
of slow and fast, with sexiness and perfectly controlled frenzy. There was not a dull second in a score that has plenty
of repetition.
Martin Chalifour gave intense flavor to the extensive violin solos. And all others in the orchestra rose to his challenge.
Michele Zukovskys sinuous clarinet solos were particularly bewitching.
The program began with Debussys Petite Suite, a pleasant two-piano piece orchestrated by Henry Bsser for no
good reason other than that it is a crowd-pleaser. And so it was.
Los Angeles Philharmonic, Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., L.A. 2 p.m. Saturday. $42-$147. (323)
850-2000 or www.laphil.com

Yuja Wang
Houston Chronicle November 30, 2008

Wang gives concerto its due


BY EVERETT EVANS

Rising star Yuja Wang gave an impressive performance of Rachmaninoffs Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Houston
Symphony Friday evening, making the audience favorite an exciting centerpiece for the program.
With guest conductor Alexander Mickelthwate demonstrating a dashing style on the podium, the orchestra in fine form
and two very different and highly satisfying works on either side of the concerto, it made an ideal evening for music
lovers.
One of the best-loved concertos for its dramatic construction and passionate melodies, the Rach 2 found in Wang an
interpreter equal to its most explosive outpourings as well as its more delicate reveries.
From her dramatic handling of the opening chords, like bells tolling with increasing furor, through her powerful
hammering of rhythmic counterpoint to the first movements brooding main theme in the strings, she was in command
of the soloists role. Yet she also summoned the delicacy to make the most of the movements lyrical second theme.
Wang is not as effusive in manner, facial expression and such as many have been with this dazzling material. She
seems to prefer to let her playing do most of the emoting. Yet there was great feeling, notable for warmth and
genuineness, to match her accomplished technique.
With Mickelthwates decisive command of tempos, the orchestra partnered Wangs solo role in perfect balance. The
muscular work of the strings in the first movement, the sound both sonorous and sweet, set the standard for superb
orchestral work in all three movements.
This balanced interplay was key to the adagio, with its haunting theme trading off between woodwind solos and
Wangs piano. Expressiveness tempered with restraint was the key to Wangs impact here, extraordinary in the serene
hush of her closing measures.
Wang and the orchestra relished the dynamic final movements chance to cut loose with the galloping rhythms of its
main theme. The 21-year-old pianist found her flashiest opportunities in this movement but also brought a fine
romantic sweep to the famous second theme.
The concert opened with Benjamin Brittens The Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra, his set of 13 inventive
variations and closing fugue, based on a stately Henry Purcell theme, brilliantly showcasing the different instruments of
the orchestra. Not only the ideal introduction for young (or any) people, its a potent reminder of all of the orchestras
extraordinary variety and range, and what a marvelous invention it is.
It was especially so under Mickelthwates agile and spirited direction, each variation dispatched with expertise and
enthusiasm. There isnt space to name every musician, so lets have Paula Pages celestial harp solo represent the many
bursts of individual excellence.
The live camera close-ups worked well here, as did actor Jim Johnsons narration in just the right tone genial,
appreciative, never heavy or patronizing.

Yuja Wang
Houston Chronicle November 30, 2008
page 2 of 2
The program closed with a potent reading of Sibelius Symphony No. 5, a work interestingly pitched between tradition
and bold innovations in symphonic form.
As often with Sibelius, the work opens in somewhat diffuse manner, as the music seems to awaken through rumblings
in the percussion and brass, but with the themes and orchestral forces converging midway through the movement.
Mickelthwate made good use of this sense of gathering power as the first movement progressed to its bright scherzo
(Sibelius devised it as a 2-in-1 movement, one of this symphonys innovations).
The magic really took hold in the andante second movement, with Mickelthwate bringing a light, hovering touch to the
tiptoeing main theme, keyed to high woodwinds and pizzicato strings.
The final movements tremolo strings and bustling melodic figures racing through the orchestra built to the powerful
arrival of the majestic brass theme, a sibling to the comparable theme in Sibelius Second. The performance surged to a
powerful close, capped by Sibelius novel finish of six emphatic, starkly separated chords. I liked Mickelthwates touch
of counting them off with his fingers as he drove each one home.

Yuja Wang
Detroit News October 25, 2008

Pianist Yuja Wang joins DSO and polishes her star


BY LAWRENCE B. JOHNSON

You may have read the glowing reports heralding 21-year-old Yuja Wang as the most brilliant pianist yet to emerge
from China - or never mind that, simply the most important new pianist to appear in recent years, period.
Well, her performance Friday night with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra served as a cautionary lesson about taking
such unbridled accolades at face value. They're all hopelessly inadequate.
Wang is a phenomenal pianist, a thrilling musician, a stunningly original interpreter and, not to overstate the case one
iota, probably a genius.
You look at this petite figure at the keyboard -- in addition to everything else, she's the very model of perfect pianistic
posture -- and you can't help wondering how she produces such a grand sound. But that was only my third or fourth
reaction to her jaw-dropping turn through Prokofiev's formidable Second Piano Concerto with the DSO and guest
conductor Charles Dutoit.
The actual sequence of my impressions went something like this: Wow, what concentration, depth and elegance. Wow,
what incredible - and I mean lightning-flash - speed. Aaah, what finesse and understanding.
Wang's playing was fully as poetic as it was technically dazzling, and on the latter score this pianist has no discernible
limits. Her Prokofiev was a head-spinning delight, just huge fun and yet utterly arresting. She made very clear the
lyrical subtext of a concerto that might seem to be mostly a showcase for blazing virtuosity. While Wang could zoom
through the most turbulent or effervescent passages at speeds that all but defied processing, she never failed to convey
the musicality, the inflected poetry of those notes flying by.
The audience went bonkers, which seemed to both touch and amuse the pianist, so she offered as an encore the famous
"Turkish" Rondo from Mozart's Piano Sonata in A major, K. 331 - on steroids. This version, by the Russian pianist
Arcadi Volodos, was tricked up with rambunctious syncopations and some extra layers of muscle. A real screamer, and
Wang went after it with relish. Which brought another round of whooping approval.
Wang probably could have played till quitting time, the DSO could have played cards and everybody would have been
happy. But she apparently had something else to do, and so did the band - Rimsky-Korsakov's big-screen tone poem
(never mind that it was written before movies) "Scheherazade."
Dutoit, conducting without a score and very much from the heart, elicited a plush tapestry of sound from the DSO, a
performance as pliant and assured as it was opulent. Concertmaster Emmanuelle Boisvert, in her majestic and lustrous
solos, provided yet another reminder of just how fortunate the DSO is to have so complete a violinist at so critical a
post. The whole orchestra was in top form in capturing the magic of "Scheherazade" - its romantic soul, which has ever
secured this music in the world's affection.

Yuja Wang
Miami Herald October 20, 2008

Fiery Wang displays keyboard artistry


BY LAWRENCE A. JOHNSON

The New World Symphony entered its third decade Friday evening -- and its last full season in the Lincoln Theatre -- a
la Russe et Francais, with artistic director Michael Tilson Thomas leading the orchestra in showpieces by Ravel and
Stravinsky.
The two composers make companionable, cross-cultural program mates. The Russian composer's music is imbued with
French style and influences and Ravel's elegance often draws on the sunshine and dance rhythms of Spain.
The evening's spotlight belonged to Yuja Wang, the young pianist who is making her New World debut at these
concerts.
Two seasons ago, Wang displayed an astounding technique in a local recital but her playing felt a bit cool and remote.
What a difference two years makes, for the Chinese pianist's performances Friday night demonstrated keyboard artistry
on the highest level.
Ravel's Concerto for the Left Hand is an enigmatic work, ingeniously crafted yet quirky and driven. Ravel's offbeat
scoring reflects the music's strangeness, often relying on low instruments, as with the subterranean contrabassoon
growling against lower strings in the opening bars.
Even with just 50 percent of her digital arsenal on display, Wang showed remarkable fire and iron-fingered power, with
clear sympathy for the off-kilter bravura of this concerto. She brought a striking array of shading and nuance to the
climactic cadenza and her give and take with the orchestra under MTT's direction was most impressive, often echoing
the orchestra players' phrasing and somehow even the very timbre of their instruments.
Wang was allowed all her fingers in Stravinsky's Capriccio, a lightweight but charming showpiece that gracefully
melds a jazz quality with the composer's wry Neo-Classical style.
Here too, the pianist was a simpatico soloist, blazing through the spiky angularities without sacrificing the music's light
amiable spirit.
The 21-year-old pianist reemerged for an encore, managing to bring down the house with Mozart's Turkish March in
the bizarro Volodos arrangement.
The level of the New World is remarkably consistent, even with a third of the orchestra's members new every season.
Yet even by that elevated standard, the playing in the two main symphonic works was truly impressive, at times
staggering in its gleam and virtuosity.
MTT's take on Ravel's Rapsodie espagnole showcased the kaleidoscopic brilliance and dazzle with whipcrack
renditions of the Malaguena and the Feria, Spanish rhythm and castanets very much to the fore.

Yuja Wang
Miami Herald October 20, 2008
page 2 of 2
No complaints about the performance of the 1919 suite from The Firebird. One of our finest Stravinskians, Tilson
Thomas' complete ease in this ballet music was manifest. MTT drew out scoring subtleties and exotic colors, with a
notably tender Berceuse and galvanic splendor in the final bars. Often the conductor just cued and let the musicians
play, which they did quite gloriously, the woodwinds in particular excelling in their myriad opportunities.
The evening began with a pre-encore bonus that hewed to the French motif, Delibes' Marche and cortege of Bacchus
from his ballet, Sylvia. Tilson Thomas and the orchestra delivered a rousing rendition of brassy swagger and
thunderous impact. But what happened to the tradition of opening the season with the National Anthem?

Yuja Wang
Daily Gazette August 19, 2008

Pianist phenom Wang wows em as soloist and in ensemble


BY GERALDINE FREEDMAN

SARATOGA SPRINGS Every season Saratoga Chamber Music Festival artistic director Chantal Juillet finds a
new artist to present to audiences. On Monday night, that new artist was the 21-year-old Chinese pianist Yuja Wang.
She was a stunner. She performed Liszts prodigiously difficult Sonata in B minor.
Its a very long work that goes for almost 50 minutes of constant playing. Like much of Liszts music, this one ebbed
and flowed from great dramatic moments to quiet ephemeral sections filled with a romantically ethereal melody.
It took a page or so of music before Wang was completely involved emotionally, but once she was wozzah.
She has technique to burn. Her octave runs at lightning speed were incredible. The volume and big sound she got out of
the piano, which in the big chordal passages sounded like giant footsteps, contrasted sharply with the lacy streams of
notes. Her delicate stroking of the melody was like angels singing.
Now and then, shed lift off the piano stool in her intensity. Yet with all her passion, Wang was always in control. Her
concentration was focused. She was unhesitating in pacing herself in accordance with the works demands. Her vision
was a dramatic one. It was great stuff and the crowd loved it. Wang got a standing ovation and several curtain calls.
In Brahms Trio for piano, violin and French horn in E-flat Major, Wang showed she could be part of an ensemble,
which included violinist David Kim, the concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, who was making a rare
appearance on this stage, and French hornist Jennifer Montone, the principal French horn of the orchestra.
Considering that the trio had never played together before the days rehearsal, they showed an impressive intuitive
ensemble sense.
There was excellent drama in several sections as well as haunting lyricism and always a wonderful flow to the music.
Montone got a mellow tone and played with an effortless breath control. Kim played with strong phrases, rich tones
and provided solid, anchored leadership. Wang was effortless in her part, too.

Yuja Wang
Daily Gazette August 19, 2008
page 2 of 2
The evening began with Kim, cellist Efe Baltacigil of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Juillet on viola in Dohnanyis
Serenade in C Major. Tempos were lively, Kim and Baltacigil made strong statements. Juillet had a few difficulties in
the very fast technical sections, but she got a good tone and her solo in the slow second movement was expressive.
Tonight, the Russian duo of violinist Vadim Repin and pianist Nikolai Lugansky will entertain.

Yuja Wang
Saratogian.com August 20, 2008

Popular pianist proves she can deliver


BY JUDITH WHITE

Sensational pianist Yuja Wang made her debut in the Saratoga Springs Chamber
Music Festival Monday at Spa Little Theatre. It should serve as clear notice that
her upcoming debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra on Friday at the Saratoga
Performing Arts Center will be a command performance for music lovers.
Music Director Chantal Juillet opened the program playing viola, rather than her
violin, for Dohnnyi's Serenade for String Trio. With her were the Philadelphia
Orchestra's concertmaster, David Kim, and principal cellist Efe Baltacigil.
Juillet played the lovely second movement viola solo with a tone that fit
perfectly, not too dark nor heavy, leaving space for Baltacigil to pluck texture
into the mix.
There was a casual display of expertise in this playing, as the three musicians
took refined ensemble playing to its max. They championed each other
throughout, and made the harmonized parallel lines sound as if played by a
single mind.

Yuja Wang

Kim, heard only once before in this setting, gave his soaring soprano sound a rest in this enjoyable work, which called
for and received more subtle treatment.
Many in the audience on this night came primarily to hear if Yuja Wang could deliver on the glowing publicity she has
earned, and it's likely no one left disappointed.
Wang played the difficult Liszt Sonata in B Minor, a half-hour of non-stop romantic mood changes exploring every one
of the piano's 88 keys in all possible combinations with the others.
Some say this music shows the different facets of the composer's personality, and Wang exposed the most gentle,
languorous aspects of the piece every bit as perfectly as the hard-edged, pounding furor.
Just 21, hair blunt-cut to hide her face in profile at the piano, Wang is a quiet, unaffected presence as she plays, utterly
without body language except when the force of her arms on the keys lifts her slight frame from the bench.
This young pianist is a technical whiz who makes every note speak for itself.
Wang returned to the stage after intermission with violinist Kim and the Philadelphian's principal horn, Jennifer
Montone, to play Brahms' Horn Trio.
Montone has quickly become an audience favorite with the Philadelphians and seems never to let her tricky instrument

Yuja Wang
Saratogian.com August 20, 2008
page 2 of 2
get the best of her.
This night was no exception as she blew one horn call after another perfectly, and pared her big, warm sound to meet
Kim's. The two made a tender testament of the melody Brahms used. The composer had written this work after the
death of his mother and not long before he wrote his remarkable Requiem.
The piano had a difficult part here, and Wang showed herself entirely capable of playing in ensemble.

Yuja Wang
Kalamazoo Gazette June 28, 2008

Pianist Yuja Wang performs brilliantly in Fontana Chamber Arts


concert
BY C.J. GIANAKARIS

Friday night's Fontana Chamber Arts concert, featuring pianist Yuja Wang, prompted a brilliant performance that
displayed her dazzling technique and profound interpretive grasp -- a winning performance all round.
Born in 1987 in Beijing, Wang moved to the United States at 15 years of age. She received the Gilmore Young Artist
Award in 2006 and had been heard before by some in Friday's large audience at St. Luke's Episcopal Church.
She led off with two very different pieces by Chopin. The opener, Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23, the flashier, has
always been an audience favorite, and she made clear why. Providing absolutely ravishing melodic lines, meltingly
played, Wang revealed crystalline singing melodies on top, balanced by firm bass accompaniment. The audience was
breathless during the staggered, opposed chromatic octave runs at the end.
On the other hand, Chopin's late Barcarolle in F-sharp minor, Op. 60, featured a caressing manner that enveloped the
fetching melodies in gorgeously played trills and ornaments. Splendid sustained passages of pianissimo lines suited the
highly reverberating hall better than the dominating fortes of the Ballade. But in both works, Wang's playing was
wholly persuasive at all times.
Bella Bartok's 1926 Piano Sonata, BB 88 (Sz. 80), bristled with dissonance but also revealed rich fragments of
Hungarian folk songs, all riding a joyous, unrelenting rhythmic undercurrent that appealed to listeners' instincts.
Balancing the Bartok was Wang's playing of her own arrangement of a melody from C. W. Gluck's 1762 opera Orfeo
ed Euridice. Wang gently highlighted Gluck's haunting melodies as surely as would an operatic soprano, making for
delectable moments.
Wang's final solo was Vladimir Horowitz's famed arrangement of Camille Saint-Saens' "Danse macabre," Op. 40. As
reset, the work is designed as the showiest of show pieces. Horowitz's renowned presto markings and impossible
technical demands evoked no terrors for Wang whose octave runs throughout astounded. Even an internal fugal
passage, immersed in heavy note-traffic, emerged cleanly.
We will be hearing more of Wang, confirmed by this virtuosic performance.
The remainder of Friday's concert also pleased. Members of the Daedalus Quartet -- violinist Kyu-Young Kim, violist
Jessica Thompson and cellist Ramakrishnan -- joined Wang in an exuberant performance of Brahms' Piano Quartet No.
1 in G minor, Op. 25.
Given the reverberation in the venue, no surprise it took time for the players to find a blend. But they did, and the final
two movements were sensational. The four performers melded into a single unit to produce crisp bravura playing. Each
player had moments in the spotlight, and each handsomely acquitted himself or herself. Impressive, too, was the
discovery that Wang was as fine an ensemble performer as a soloist.

Yuja Wang
Baltimore Sun April 28, 2008

Vibrancy of Tortelier, BSO resonates loud and clear


BY TIM SMITH

Had the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performed its latest program on the other side of the Atlantic over the
weekend, it might have found itself in severe legal trouble.
Conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier encouraged the BSO to pump out the volume Friday night at Meyerhoff Symphony
Hall to an extent that could have run afoul of European Union rules governing noise levels in the workplace, rules that
have just been extended to the music and entertainment fields. (That's already causing some headaches - earaches, I
guess - over there. At least one orchestra and opera company have had to make difficult changes for when the decibel
levels got too high.)
Not that I'm complaining. I'm warped enough to believe that nothing can be too loud - or too soft. Or too fast or too
slow, for that matter. So Friday's concert, which also hit some notable levels of soft along the way, not to mention fast
ones, proved to be quite the attention-keeper.
Tortelier is always a welcome guest. He's a fundamentally classy conductor, yet never overly studied and certainly not
stuffy. He knows how to maintain a sense of spontaneity in music-making, a quality the BSO clearly relishes.
Expressive synergy between podium and orchestra flowed all night, starting with the off-beat opening work, Richard
Yardumian's Armenian Suite. That surname will be familiar to longtime BSO watchers. The composer's daughter,
Miryam Yardumian, is retiring at season's end after 19 remarkable years in artistic administration with the orchestra.
The Philadelphia-born Richard Yardumian wrote the Armenian Suite for eminent conductor Eugene Ormandy, a
champion of his music, and the Philadelphia Orchestra, which gave the premiere in 1954.
Based on folk songs the initially self-taught composer heard from his mother, the seven-movement suite reveals, above
all, a deft command of orchestral coloring. From the gentlest hue to bright, sparkling shards, the score is alive with
aural activity. A little more in the way of development would be welcome; most of the movements are so brief that the
distinctive melodies barely have time to register before they evaporate.
The attractive piece was vividly performed, and the energy it generated set the stage nicely for Prokofiev's Piano
Concerto No. 1.
This is an aggressive, assertive opus, as much about showing off - it was Prokofiev's parting shot upon graduating from
conservatory - as it is about investigating how to put various themes through interesting hoops. Deliberately
provocative in its harmonic language and often pugilistic writing for the keyboard, the concerto understandably shook
up many of its first listeners in 1914. It's still pretty startling.
The music got an exciting workout Friday from pianist Yuja Wang, with plenty of supporting fire from Tortelier and
the orchestra.
The Beijing-born soloist made her impressive BSO debut in the summer of 2005, when she was still a teen. Now barely
into her 20s (she's finishing up her studies with Gary Graffman at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia this year), Wang is
disarmingly at ease with the mechanics of playing, even in such a thorny concerto as this, but also attentive to
possibilities beyond perfection of note-production.

Yuja Wang
Baltimoresun.com April 28, 2008
Page 2 of 2
She proved particularly effective in the subtler passages of the score, applying a delightful, gossamer touch. In beefier
and noisier portions that included orchestral action, she was not helped by Tortelier, who let the ensemble blare away at
will, but she had a chance to show muscle in the cadenza.
The pianist acknowledged the audience's vociferous reaction with two encores, each chosen for maximum bravura. The
witty, thunderous transcription of Mozart's Rondo alla Turca by Arcardi Volodos was delivered with abundant panache.
Wang pushed Rachmaninoff's transcription of Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee into supersonic speed,
bringing the house down yet again. It was lots of fun, but it would have been nice to hear the pianist in a real contrast.
Maybe next time.
The concert closed with Symphonie fantastique by Berlioz. Tortelier treated the warhorse to an eventful performance
full of character and fine detail. There was abundant mystery and drama in the opening movement, and a kind of tense
elegance in the waltz.
The "In the Country" movement unfolded most poetically, with exquisite call-and-answer playing from English horn
soloist Jane Marvine and, offstage, oboist Michael Lisicky. Tortelier ensured that each appearance of the symphony's
idee fixe registered tellingly, nowhere more so than its sudden interruption of that pastoral scene.
All of the brassy, percussive power in the final two movements was unleashed, along with great splashes of
atmosphere, as the conductor guided his thoroughly responsive forces - and pushed the volume all the way up to
neighbor-rattling setting.

Yuja Wang
The Beverly Hills Outlook April 28, 2008

Marriner Masters Romanticism at Royce


BY CHARLES LONBERGER

With a commanding presence, Sir Neville Marriner led St. Martin in the Fields through the Romantic lexicon at Royce
Hall on March 29th when UCLAlive! Presented the ensemble as part of its rich season.
Before a packed to the rafters Hall, Marriner reminded us just what great conducting is: accomplishing much with little
movement, his every gesture had meaning. His work this night was precise, confident and authoritative.
The concert began in the High Romantic, with Mendelssohns atmospheric Hebrides Overture, Opus 26 ("Fingals
Cave"). This is a mysterious composition that seems to come out of nowhere, and, in Marriners hands, it was as if the
listener had stepped onto a wheel already in circular motion. Marriners interpretation was restrained, yet the score all
but throbbed. With strings shimmering, it was sweet, yet brooding. Most notable was how the conductors version of it
clearly revealed the composer echoing Schubert, yet foretelling Tchaikovsky. This version was almost magically
definitive, while musically reaching out beyond itself.
Next, the conductor took the ensemble back to the Classical Mozart, in that composers Piano Concerto No. 24 in C
minor, K491, a piece, which nonetheless prefigures Romanticism. Accordingly, the Allegro opens with tension and
drama, and the concerto concludes with an Allegretto imbued in encroaching darkness mocked by playful winds. Only
its centerpiece, the Larghetto, is strictly Classical in balance.
This Concerto was the first showpiece of the evening for piano soloist Yuja Wang, who here was on her goodbehavior;
despite an outburst of pure Romanticism, the approach was very logical and dispassionate, veryfeminine, modest, and
perfectly in place. Her interpretation on the Allegro was gentle; the Larghettowas pensive, yet pure. Cascading over the
keyboard ambidextrously in the Allegretto, she was guided bythe ensembles exquisite support.
After intermission, and having changed from a blue gown into a red one, Wang was unleashed and herinterpretation of
Mendelssohns Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Opus 25, was one of forceand passion. Her work on this concerto
was excitable, yet turned transparent and quiet in the Andante. Skipping over the keys in a heart pounding Presto
Molto Allegro vivace, she was insistent, yet fluid, and touched her instrument with a certain unexpected elegance.
The concert concluded back in the High Romantic where it began, with Mendelssohns Symphony No. 4 in A major,
Opus 90 ("The Italian"). Marriner attacked the score with a sweeping sense of excitement that was, at times, giddy and
light hearted. The Andante con moto was moody and on edge, while its very curious Con moto moderato opened
luxurious, but became quasi-militaristic, underlining the heroic nature of the composition. It ended with a very manic
Saltarello: Presto. As an encore, Marriner led us into the late Romanticism of Tchaikovsky, which was desolate and
sad. Thus, in a scant 2- hours of listening, the audience had traversed the history of a musical movement. Not only
had Marriner given us a masterful example of the art of conducting, but he had educated his audience as well in the
process.

Yuja Wang
The Washington Times April 26, 2008

Fantastic sounds on piano dazzling


BY T.L. PONICK

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra opened its current program at Strathmore on Thursday night performing works by
Prokofiev, Berlioz and Yardumian under the vigorous baton of guest conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier. The featured
soloist was young piano phenom Yuja Wang.
The orchestra opened with the "Armenian Suite" from the late Armenian-American composer Richard Yardumian.
Composed in the 1930s and revised in 1954, it proved an enjoyable curtain raiser if not a memorable one. Next on the
musical menu was Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 1 in D-flat Major, op. 10, penned as a student work when the
composer was just 20. The concerto was controversial at the time, its extended tonality and ostentatious flashiness
stretching the boundaries of what was considered permissible in 1912.
Charmingly slight of build, Miss Yuja seated herself demurely at the piano, then proceeded to blow the roof off
Strathmore's Concert Hall with a massive yet insightful attack on the piece. She was skillfully supported by the BSO
under Maestro Tortelier, most impressively so in the work's sweeping final measures. Miss Yuja's performance was not
mere technical bombast, although at times, her tempos were overly exuberant, as if daring the orchestra to go faster.
She got Prokofiev's concept right, however, interpreting the concerto as the bold statement of a new generation. Her
speed and control were dazzling, her tone full and rich, her mastery of the composer's wicked passage work nearly
perfect. Not yet 21, she seems already destined to become one of this century's major talents.
After intermission, the BSO gave a spirited reading of Hector Berlioz's fabulously insane "Symphonie Fantastique,"
penned in 1830, just three years after Beethoven's death.
Commencing with a dreamy, romantic first movement, the symphony's visual scenes sweep through a whirling waltz to
an unhappy country picnic that convinces our poet-composer to escape the world via a narcotic haze. What he gets
instead are the symphony's crazed 4th and 5th movements in which he hallucinates he's a murderer and marched to the
gallows to the jauntiest funeral march ever. He then experiences the horrors of Hades before waking up to discover it
was all a bad dream.
The BSO's performance was notable for its bright solo work, well-executed musical special effects, and energetic
percussion section. The only detectable glitch occurred in the Witches' Sabbath finale where the offstage tubular bells,
apparently unable to see the conductor clearly, were off the beat on two occasions.

Yuja Wang
Washington Times April 26, 2008
Page 2 of 2
But why quibble? This is the kind of dazzling evening classical audiences love and they've got two more chances to
do so this weekend in Baltimore at the Meyerhoff.

Yuja Wang
Philadelphia Inquirer April 9, 2008

Seriously talented pianist, age 21, steps in to save tour


BY DAVID PATRICK STEARNS

BOSTON - Having assumed most of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields' U.S. tour from ailing Murray Perahia,
pianist Yuja Wang is showing belated signs of taking herself and her talent rather more seriously.
The old Yuja - relatively speaking, since she just turned 21 - could be delightfully puzzling. Tell her that you're going
to hear her Rachmaninoff concert next week, and the Curtis Institute of Music student would murmur, "Guess I'd better
practice." After being told by friends that her triumphant Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 last year with the Boston
Symphony was hair-raising, she switched channels and said with calculated teenage nonchalance, "Want to go
shopping?"
No doubt her deadpan sense of humor was partly at work. But at the Boston stop of the current Academy of St. Martin
in the Fields tour - the ensemble plays tonight at the Kimmel Center - a new sense of commitment was palpable, even if
that state of mind has its downside: When the Beijing-born pianist starts practicing these days, nobody can be sure
when she'll stop. Sir Neville Marriner, 83, venerated founder of this widely recorded chamber orchestra, fears she'll tire
out before performances.
"The moments before we step on the stage she still has the score in her hand, just reviewing what she might do," says
Marriner. "She's an intensely dedicated pianist."
Yet she's relatively unburdened by her talent. "They say that Mozart should only be played by pianists who are under
12 or over 60," she says. "I just turned 21. I feel that a lot of adults make things harder than they need to be. They
complicate everything."
She's the first to admit she tends to do the exact opposite of what she's told - much to the consternation of her teachers
at the Beijing Central Conservatory of Music, more than one of whom has asked, "Why don't you do anything I tell
you?" But that stubbornness - plus her admiration for jazz greats like Art Tatum - accounts for the immediately
recognizable originality apparent in her playing since she left her native China for a year of study in Calgary and then
five years at Curtis, working with Gary Graffman.
Rejecting the ideas of others, even in knee-jerk fashion, stimulates her own thinking, she says. She loves listening to
the recordings of others, from the late Artur Schnabel to her friend Piotr Anderszewski, but with her iPod in "shuffle"
mode so she never knows who is coming next.
Whatever the process, Marriner loves the results: "Whereas we think about it [Mozart] for years and years and years,
and do it, she does it because it's the first time she's had to do it and this is what she feels," he says. "It's immensely
refreshing."
Also remarkable, this spontaneity hasn't been inhibited by the pressured circumstances of the current tour. If anything,
Wang is more reckless than ever. She had only a week's notice before the March 25 opening date in Houston. And
though she had played Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 24 before, it wasn't in her active repertoire. But she whipped it into
shape while also offering to play Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No. 1. Plus encores. Marriner gladly replaced the
previously scheduled Mendelssohn string symphony that had been programmed by Perahia.

Yuja Wang
Philadelphia Inquirer April 9, 2008
Page 2 of 2
The 12-concert, two-week tour, in fact, turned from a disaster to a gift. When pianist Perahia pulled out (he also was to
have conducted the concerts), the orchestra faced possible tour cancellation and a long-term financial downturn. But
Marriner has the star power to redeem the tour. Besides having recorded the complete orchestral works of Mozart plus
the soundtrack to Amadeus, he is widely considered to be in the midst of an Indian summer more vigorous and
interesting than any of his work in decades past.
Though long committed to guest conducting in Zagreb, Croatia, on dates that overlapped the tour, he was, after
extensive negotiations, able to get out of the engagement.
Two U.S. presenters suggested Wang to replace Perahia as pianist, and at their first interview she and Marriner
experienced instant mutual adoration. In a world where concerts are scheduled years in advance, both love the idea of
doing something unexpected. Though Wang is dogged by boredom playing the same music night after night in a
subscription series, she finds touring, with a new city, piano and hall every day, stimulating, and she loves the
camaraderie with the orchestra, including what she calls deep, philosophical conversations with the players - no doubt
abetted by the fact that she's currently reading Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse.
Her burgeoning commitment to life in music comes with fears of public fickleness. On the current tour, she notices that
applause is medium-warm for her Mozart concerto but extravagant when, for an encore, she plays a souped-up
arrangement of the same composer's Alla Turca.
Then there's the child-musician phenomenon.
"Age is a big deal," she says. "If audiences see a young person playing with the orchestra, there will always be a
standing ovation. And I'm not going to be young all the time. I talked about it to Piotr [Anderszewski, who just turned
39], and he said, 'Nobody can be you.' He said the best thing I can do is to try not to think about it, and develop
myself."
That's evident in her recent forays into composing. The Mozart concerto's first movement has no surviving cadenza by
the composer. After reviewing several (including one by Marc-Andre Hamelin, who landed the tour's Lincoln Center
date last night), she wrote her own in two hours. Actually, she has yet to write it down; it's partially improvised in the
voluminous style of Liszt. Marriner finds it amusing, but upon realizing it was changing every night, requested she just
end with a trill so he knows when to bring in the orchestra. "That's what cadenzas are about - what the artist feels about
the work," he says.
True to her contrarian form, she'd rather have an edgier ending, and sees even more modern possibilities. "You have to
write according to whatever time you live in," she says. "Maybe I should write one in John Cage style - 4:33 [of
silence]!"
Cage is dead, she's told.
"Oh, he is? Damn! I'll do one Philip Glass style!"

Yuja Wang
San Francisco Chronicle April 2, 2008

Stunning Show by pianist Yuja Wang


BY JOSHUA KOSMAN

The world of classical music can be every bit as stodgy as its detractors like to claim. But all it takes to shake things up
is an artist of dazzling genius.
The jolt in Davies Symphony Hall this week was supplied by pianist Yuja Wang, who made two guest appearances
with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields under longtime conductor Sir Neville Marriner. Mozart and Mendelssohn
will never sound quite the same again.
For that matter, even the comfortingly precise and streamlined sound of the Academy - the very embodiment of the
classical music establishment - sounded newly alert and alive. The two concerts, presented Sunday and Monday by the
San Francisco Symphony as part of the Great Performers Series, found the orchestra playing with a welcome strain of
vitality that isn't always part of its genetic makeup.
But the real excitement was the presence of Wang, the 21-year-old Chinese-born virtuoso whose every performance
adds to the aura of greatness that surrounds her. As she hinted in a performance with the San Francisco Symphony last
year and demonstrated conclusively in her February recital debut, Wang combines a practically superhuman keyboard
technique with artistic eloquence that is second to none.
This week, she lavished those gifts plentifully on concertos that call for both. Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No. 1,
written as a vehicle for his own precocious keyboard prowess, is one of the great explosions of youthful showing off, a
rapid-fire collection of irresistible tunes and lithe, clattery passagework.
Wang had no trouble at all with the work's technical demands - aside from a slight tendency to rush through some of
the faster scale passages, she tossed it off like so much child's play. More striking, though, was the way she brought out
the humor in the outer movements - this is music that reminds the listener how much out-and-out fun technical bravura
can provide - and contrasted that with the radiant tonal colors of the slow movement.
On Monday, Wang rose to even greater heights in Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491. In comparison
to the Mendelssohn, this was a stately, mature reading, mixing dramatic but measured rhetoric with a certain emotional
urgency that carried through the entire concerto.
Even in the slow movement - where Marriner and the orchestra suddenly lapsed into a placid vein that threatened to
becalm the music - Wang kept things energized with a series of forward-leaning phrases.
For sheer explosiveness - and as a reminder of how musical virtuosity has changed since Mozart's day - Wang supplied
a wonderfully Lisztian cadenza for the first movement. She responded to the audience's unbridled applause with two
finger-busting encores, Mozart's "Rondo alla Turca" arranged for what sounded like six hands by Arcadi Volodos, and
her own arrangement of the "Melody" from Gluck's "Orpheus and Eurydice."
Wang's presence for these concerts, like Marriner's, was a fluke. Until a couple of weeks ago, the orchestra's tour was
supposed to feature Murray Perahia as pianist and conductor; when he dropped out for medical reasons, Marriner and
Wang were pressed into service.

Yuja Wang
San Francisco Chronicle April 2, 2008
Page 2 of 2
Perhaps that sense of haste was helpful in goosing the performers out of the unruffled sleekness that is the Academy's
house style, or perhaps it was simply Wang's vivacious contributions. Whatever the reason, the concerts sounded
rhythmically fresh and tonally firm.
Sunday's concert was an urban tour of sorts, beginning with a stylish account of Mozart's "Paris" Symphony and
concluding with a muscular, well-fed rendition of Haydn's "London" Symphony. Mendelssohn's early String
Symphony No. 10 in B Minor filled out the program alluringly.
Monday brought more Mendelssohn, the "Fingal's Cave" Overture and the "Italian" Symphony, both done with flair
and plenty of orchestral color. The slow movement of his Fifth Symphony served as the first orchestral encore both
nights.

Yuja Wang
San Francisco Classical Voice April 1, 2008

Youth vs. Experience


BY HEUWELL TIRCUIT

The first of two concerts by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Sunday in Davies Symphony Hall, required some
program shuffling. The venerable Sir Neville Marriner was filling in for the indisposed pianist-conductor Murray
Perahia. With the presence of 21-year-old pianist Yuja Wang, the combination of youth and experience made for a
zesty evening of virtuosity.
Marriner opened and closed with the two symphonies originally programmed: Mozarts Symphony No. 31 in D Major,
K. 297, the Paris Symphony, and Haydns Symphony No, 104, also in D major, the London Symphony. For the
announced Mozart Concerto No. 21, Wang substituted Mendelssohns Piano Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 25. But
as both the Mozart symphony and the Mendelssohn concerto are relatively short, Marriner opened the second half with
the latter composers early Sinfonia No. 10 in B Minor for strings.
Even more surprising was a generous offering of no fewer than three encores, when only one was expected: the slow
movement of Mendelssohns Reformation Symphony, the so-called Fifth (its actually his Second); the Overture to
Mozarts Marriage of Figaro; and Brahms Hungarian Dance No. 1. Audience reaction was such that the performers
could have danced all night.
Marriner was his usual solid self, a no-nonsense conductor who draws sterling playing from the orchestra that he
founded many moons ago. Tempos were right on target, balances were superb, all the tricky passagework was
dispatched with ease. There was never a wisp of anything other than perfect intonation.
Mozart wrote his share of vivacious music, but nothing more so than the Paris Symphony, which was in effect a job
application. He made his Paris trip in hopes of landing a court appointment, or at least a major patron. So he geared his
symphony to French fashions of the time: three movements, not four; no formal introduction, such as was expected in
Vienna and London; flashy rushes of notes in the violins. (All Mozart garnered was the death of his mother, who had
come along for the trip.)
All those virtues in the performance of the Mozart applied equally to Haydns last grand symphony, actually the 12th of
his London symphonies in the Viennese style. The formal (and soberly dramatic) introduction is lengthy and thus a
perfect foil to the utterly cheerful Allegro which perhaps Haydn intended as a joke (lead them to expect something
grim, then jab an elbow into the ribs).
The Puzzling Case of Felix
And then theres Mendelssohn, whose common relegation to the second tier of composers has always puzzled me. His
flaw, if it is one, was that he was a flawless gentleman who avoided all forms of rudeness. That was as true of his music
as of his basic personality, with which he never sought to shock his public. But the total musicality of his many talents
was amazing.
Mendelssohn could turn out masterpieces by age 12. Its surprising that the B-minor Sinfonia for Strings one of five
from 1823 already carries the melodic fingerprints of his mature style. Actually, the Sinfonia is more like a formal
Overture with its two movements: a soulful Adagio followed by a bristling Allegro. Its the most frequently
programmed of his 13 sinfonias and a nice piece.

Yuja Wang
San Francisco Classical Voice April 1, 2008
Page 2 of 3
As for his piano works, it may seem difficult to imagine, but in the mid-19th century Mendelssohns G-minor piano
concerto was the most frequently performed and admired of all piano concertos up to that time. Virtually every pianist
learned it, and indeed it was mandatory piano repertoire at the Paris Conservatory. It even became the subject of
Berlioz rather famous infernal piano story: The Conservatory, it seems, had a piano that kept playing the concerto,
even when there was no one sitting at the keyboard. They chopped it up, and still it played the Mendelssohn Concerto,
on and on. Finally, they took it into a courtyard to burn it and get the damned thing to stop.
Wangs brilliant performance of the Mendelssohn was the finest Ive heard since the heyday of Rudolf Serkin. The
Beijing native is currently completing her studies with Gary Graffman at the Curtis Institute, but she has already been
playing major works with a number of major orchestras around the world, including concertos by Grieg, Ravel, and
Beethoven with the San Francisco Symphony.
While her technical prowess is most impressive, her high level of musicality shone out to an exceptional degree. Wang
is notable for small things, such as the delicate and always tasteful application of smidgens of rubato to her phrasing.
Such things cant be taught, but have to be intuitive, and form a major barometer for judging a natural talent. The
clarity of her twinkle-fingered passagework during blinding tempos all point to a major career. I doubt that even
Perahia plays better piano.
Those three encores were like mothers milk to Marriner and his merry band, which tossed them off with nary a burp.
But it was the performance of the hum-along Brahms that proved to be their trump card in an altogether great concert
program.
Three Ms, Followed by Meretricious
Mondays second 3M program turned out to be less distinguished. The best of it consisted of Marriner conducting
Mozart and Mendelssohn. But pianist Wang managed to dampen her reputation as a tasteful musician with as vulgar a
display as Ive encountered by any pianist. The program consisted of Mendelssohns Fingals Cave Overture, Mozarts
Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491, and, following intermission, Mendelssohns joyous Symphony No. 4 in A
Major, Op. 90, the Italian.
Wangs performance of the Mozart was stellar in dynamics and clarity, as she improvised basic arpeggios in the first
movement where the piano part is largely absent from the score. Fine. But she added her own cadenza, which was
appallingly out of sync with the sobriety of Mozarts most tragic concerto. The mood of this concerto befits the most
serious episodes of Don Giovanni or Mozarts Requiem. What Wangs cadenza offered sounded like Liszts Don Juan
Fantasy on drugs.
This was then compounded by her two solo encores, music of even greater claptrap than her cadenza. First came a
rhapsodic horror on Mozarts Turkish Rondo, garish in all its being, and then a sentimentalized transcription of Glucks
Dance of the Blessed Spirits, replete with oozy chromatics of the Rachmaninov sort.
Those represented a triumph of performer ego over good taste, not helped by the fact that she was having trouble
finding all the notes in the former, to say nothing of her happy hour approach to the Gluck. How a pianist who played
two concertos so stylishly correct could slump into a misplayed cadenza and two vaudeville encores is a mystery.
Someone ought to put a word in her ear like, dont!
The Academy played brilliantly throughout the evening. Marriner took a broad tempo during the Overture to emphasize
the gravitas of Mendelssohns wonderful seascape. The storm still managed to rage, and the duo for clarinets near the
close of the piece was wonderfully, exceptionally moving. Marriner even gave clarinetists Marie Lloyd and Helen
Paskins a bow; they deserved it.

Yuja Wang
San Francisco Classical Voice April 1, 2008
Page 3 of 3
Things really caught fire for the Italian Symphony, which was all vim and sunshine, beautifully molded in perfect
tempos. Mendelssohns Saltarello finale nearly had us dancing in the aisles. The general performance made it one of
the few times Ive wished a conductor had taken the long first movement repeat. Alas, he didnt.
For encores, Marriner repeated the Andante from Mendelssohns Restoration Symphony and Mozarts Figaro
Overture from the first program, but didnt repeat Sundays Brahms.

Yuja Wang
Colorado Springs Gazette.com March 16, 2008

Chinese pianist hits all right notes in concert


BY MARK ARNEST

The buzz before Saturday's Colorado Springs Philharmonic concert was that Yuja Wang has the potential to be one of
the world's best pianists.
The buzz was a gross understatement: Wang is already one of the world's best pianists, with a sound that's big without
sounding forced, combined with a delicacy that's impossible to describe.
It's not just that the 20-yearold Chinese pianist plays piano at what the extreme limits of what is humanly possible - as
she proved in her encore, Arcadi Volodos' transcription of Mozart's familiar "Rondo a la Turca." Sure, you can find this
kitchen-sink amalgamation of technical stunts in the dictionary under "bad taste" - but she played it with such verve,
panache and ease as to silence nagging critical doubts. It's as though she has no idea what a wrong note is.
But it was her performance of Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 that proved that she's also an assured and original
interpreter. Above all, she's a master of transitions, as in the one from between the first movement's second and closing
themes: Most pianists treat this as an abrupt break, but Wang began with a quiet intensity that matched the preceding
lyricism, and then built naturally to the more dramatic finish.
And you'll never hear Chopin's lacy filigree played more delicately. If her interpretation downplayed drama in favor of
intimacy and charm, that's not a bad approach for this youthful, fresh work.
Conductor Lawrence Leighton Smith had their work cut out for them, but perhaps put on guard by the recent concert
with violinist Miriam Fried, they followed Wang's elastic tempo changes with seeming ease.
Wang was well set up. The concert began with a ravishing performance of Wagner's Good Friday music from
"Parsifal" - some of the tenderest and least overbearing music Wagner wrote.
The orchestra was even better in Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4, which ended the program. It supplied the passion and
drama absent from Wagner's and Chopin's more lyrical works.
From the first movement's nervous anxiety, to the second movement's solitary melancholy, to the finale's hysterical
intensity, this was one of the season's finest performances. The sound was warm and balanced, combining passion and
precision. Smith's command of the pace is typically excellent, but he outdid himself here, especially in the buildup to
the first movement's shattering climax.
It's also a symphony that shows off soloists, especially in the woodwind section: bassoonist Clark Wilson, clarinetist
Julianna Scott, and oboist Guy Dutra-Silveira.

Yuja Wang
International Piano March/April 2008

Yuja Wang: Performance Review


BY STEPHEN WIGLER

Ligeti Etudes for Piano no. 4 Fanfares and no. 10, Der Zauberlehrling. Liszt Sonata in B Minor. Scriabin Sonata
no. 2 in G sharp minor op. 19, Sonata-Fantasy. Bartk Sonata. Ravel La valse
Terrace Theater at the Kennedy Center, Washington DC
26 January 2008
The 20-year-old Yuja Wang, a winner of the 2006 Gilmore Young Artist
Award, has taste, excellent physical coordination and superb technical
equipment. Add to this playing that possesses urgency, personality,
imagination and colour, and shell soon be making her two more celebrated
and older compatriot-colleagues, Lang Lang and Yundi Li, run for cover.
In her debut appearance in the Washington Performing Arts Societys
Hayes Piano Series, she dispatched two Ligeti etudes with impressive
virtuosity. The repeated notes in Fanfares were dazzling and the ease with
which she negotiated the complex, shifting tempi of Der Zauberlehrling
was nothing less than a tour de force.
Liszts B minor Sonata was, in some respects, also a triumph. She played the works torrential double octaves with
unerring accuracy and at something like the speed of light. And she was able to make each appearance of the third of
the Sonatas initial motifs, a powerful theme marked for which Liszts directive calls. Wang still has room to grow in
her interpretations: in a few years we can expect her to play the Sonatas introduction and coda with greater subtlety
and mystery and we can expect that in the latter shell have enough confidence to play the codas final note more
softly, with the pianissimo for which the composer asks.
While we can expect similar kinds of growth in her already fine readings of Scriabins Second Sonata and the Bartk
Sonata, her performance of Ravels own solo piano arrangement of La valse can scarcely get any better. Wang plays
this piece with enough extravagant colour and exuberant abandon to rival that of any orchestra.

Yuja Wang
San Francisco Chronicle February 12, 2008

Review: Wang delivers recital for the ages


BY JOSHUA KOSMAN

The arrival of Chinese-born pianist Yuja Wang on the musical scene is an exhilarating and unnerving development. To
listen to her in action is to re-examine whatever assumptions you may have had about how well the piano can actually
be played.
There are virtuosos who can get around the keyboard with comparable speed and accuracy, but they don't achieve the
kind of rhythmic ease and communicative grace that Wang does. There are pianists who can probe as deeply, or even
more so, into the structural mysteries of the great piano masterpieces, but their fingers don't relay those findings as
reliably as Wang's can.
These astonishing revelations, and plenty more, came out during Wang's debut recital in Herbst Theatre on Sunday
afternoon - an event presented by San Francisco Performances on the pianist's 21st birthday. The gifts were for the
audience.
Wang's program was neither meretricious nor immodest, but it did seem designed to demonstrate just how much she
can do, and to get the message across with maximal efficiency. She strode commandingly through no fewer than five
major repertoire pieces and got everybody out the door - jaws agape, eyes blinking in amazement - in a tidy two hours.
Wang staked out her technical turf early, leading off with two of the most demanding selections from Gyrgy Ligeti's
Piano Etudes.
"Fanfares," built on a steady sequence of eight-note scales, calls for a combination of crisp rhythmic accompaniment
and jazzy, infectious melody, all done at top speed, and Wang rose superbly to the challenge. Even more daunting is
"The Sorcerer's Apprentice," a blur of rapid repeated notes that in Wang's blistering rendition seemed limited only by
the piano's mechanisms.
But the heart of the program came after intermission, with three pieces from the decades around 1900. In Scriabin's
Sonata No. 2, she matched the composer's harmonic ambiguities - often elusive, always just on the cusp of resolution with a hazy and equally insinuating range of keyboard colors.
Then she turned around and attacked Bartk's Piano Sonata with a sharp-edged ferocity that could hardly have been
more different - or more apt. As she tore through the composer's lean, rhythmically acerbic melodies, the music seemed
to rattle its own cage with aggressive fervor.
The afternoon's crowning glory was Wang's concluding romp through Ravel's "La Valse," in a performance that
brought out the music's poisonous charm and parodic savagery. The technical bravura on display was remarkable
enough, with fingers flying and chords pounding.
But even more breathtaking was the assurance with which Wang captured the dark bait-and-switch of Ravel's writing.
Time after time, she would caress the music's dance phrases into a seductive lilt - then plunge the knife in a burst of
dissonance or sarcasm. This piece has rarely sounded so gorgeous, or so profoundly unsettling.

Yuja Wang
San Francisco Chronicle February 12, 2008
page 2 of 2
The only time all afternoon that any reservations surfaced was during Wang's magnetic but slightly overdrawn account
of Liszt's B-Minor Sonata. The central lyrical passages were done with plenty of delicacy, but the more extroverted
sections, played with an excess of pedal, tended to become blustery very quickly. If there is any lack in Wang's musical
palette, it would seem to be a reliable command of the mezzo-forte range.
The afternoon concluded with two encores, beginning with her own resplendent arrangement of the "Melody" from
Gluck's "Orpheus and Eurydice," and continuing with Rimsky-Korsakov's ever-delightful "Flight of the Bumblebee" as
arranged by Sergei Rachmaninoff and Gyrgy Cziffra.

Yuja Wang
The Ann Arbor News January 21, 2008

Pianists performance equal parts power, poetry


BY SUSAN ISAACS NISBETT

I know better.
But still, I found myself wondering, as pianist Yuja Wang opened her Sunday afternoon University
Musical Society recital with a stunning pair of Ligeti etudes, whether the exceptionally glorious Steinway
she was playing had ever made an appearance on the Hill Auditorium stage before.
The point, of course, is that Wang, a 20-year-old miracle of a player with a growing worldwide
reputation, had not; and the glory is what she does with the piano, making it sing, thunder and whisper,
and above all, speak.
Her repertoire for the afternoon, works by Ligeti, Liszt, Scriabin, Bartok and Ravel united by obsessive
development of thematic or rhythmic material, showcased her virtuosity.
But if she can play barrages of swift octaves with the best of them and she can, whether in the Liszt B
Minor Sonata or in encores of Volodoss transcription of the Mozart Turkish March and Rimsky
Korsakovs Flight of the Bumblebee (played faster than the speed of light, let alone bees) she is as
much about poetry as power.
That was as evident in her Liszt, with its unmoored veerings from black darkness to caressing serenity, as
its was in her Ravel La Valse, or her Gluck Melody, a luminous encore of her own transcribing.
If Wang was equally at home in the percussive sonorities of the Bartok sonata and the fluid waters of the
Scriabin Sonata No. 2 in G-sharp Minor, with its floating melody, it was perhaps her Liszt and Ravel that
revealed her gifts most extravagantly.
Wang lures with her miraculous sound production the color was not just in the persimmon and then
sapphire gowns she wore -- but she keeps you with her with a taste for clarity, an ear for inner voices and
a keen eye for architecture.
The Liszt never gave away its hand, and yet its arch was beautifully traced. The Ravel let you see or
rather, hear the dancers moving in and out of focus as they whirled around the ballroom, nearer and
farther from the viewer.
You couldnt see Wangs face much her hair obscured her like a veil much of the time. But her hands
spoke volumes enough. Lets hope for a quick return and rejoice in what should be a long career ahead.

Yuja Wang
Virginia Classical Music Blog November 13, 2007

Review: Yuja Wang, Shanghai Quartet


BY CLARKE BUSTARD

The Shanghai Quartet doesnt usually play as an opening act and backup band, but the group may have to
reconcile itself to those roles when performing with the young Chinese pianist Yuja Wang.
Wang is the most spectacularly and comprehensively gifted pianist since . . . God knows who and when. Her
technique is both awesome and flawless, her ear for piano sonority and color unerring. She projects a pianissimo as
forcefully as a fortissimo, and everything in between, and doesnt exaggerate or misplace any dynamic level.
When she plays at speed, her fingers literally blur. Her phrasing is as natural as breathing. She has produced a
tasteful arrangement from Glucks "Dance of the Blessed Spirits," improving on Wilhelm Kempffs. Even her
posture is beyond reproach. She is 20, and looks maybe 14.
Appearing with the Shanghai during a two-day window between trips to Latin America, Wang played Scriabins
Sonata No. 2 in G sharp minor, Ravels "La Valse" and four encore pieces, including her Gluck arrangement,
Vladimir Horowitzs " Carmen Variations" from the Bizet opera, Gyrgy Cziffras arrangement of RimskyKorsakovs "Flight of the Bumblebee" and Mozarts "Rondo alla Turca" as "paraphrased" by the pianist Volodos.
Then she joined the Shanghai in Schumanns Piano Quintet.
Those selections embrace most every sound a pianist would be expected to make, short of tinkering with its
innards or playing cluster chords, and I didnt hear a sound to fault, an imbalance to correct or, more importantly, a
lapse in musicality. (Other than choosing to play the Mozart mosh lets chalk that up to Wang being 20 and not
reading five stars on YouTube as a warning sign.)
Scriabins "Sonata-Fantasy" is an homage to Chopin; a crossbreeding of those two musical personalities is a highly
volatile mix. Wang did justice to both in a performance that sustained dreamy lyricism through a succession of
expressive outbursts and jagged harmonizations.
The enormous bass sonorities she produced in the Scriabin returned in the Ravel, but the most striking feature of
her reading of "La Valse" was its clarity. In the hands of most pianists, this piece is marked by splashes of notes
and smears of tone color. Wang played it with the fine articulation and careful proportion that pianists strive for in
Mozart, yet she did so without sacrificing any of this musics ominously surging power or woozy humor.
Schumann, of course, was a pianist some accuse him of writing piano music regardless of his scores
instrumentation and his Piano Quintet can be a precarious balancing act between keyboard and strings. Wang
played her part emphatically, but never crowded the Shanghai. The string players, in turn, were at their most
expressively assertive and tonally voluptuous.
The foursome opened the program with Beethovens "Harp" Quartet (No. 10 in E flat major, Op. 74), perhaps the
most quirkily adventurous of his middle-period quartets. The Shanghai emphasized its tonal surprises, sudden
twists and dynamic contrasts while maintaining a generally plummy tone and high but not hyper energy level. Solo
voices rising from the ensemble, which are plentiful in this piece, were rendered with special sensitivity.

Yuja Wang
The Kansas City Star November 24, 2007

Guest conductor, Chinese pianist provide impassioned, energizing


performances
BY THERESA RUPERD

Like my two-block walk from the parking lot to the Lyric Theatre, the Kansas City Symphony concert was
invigorating.
The Symphony was led by talented guest conductor Klauspeter Seibel. The concert opened with Stephen Dankers
Albrecht Drer The Apocalypse of St. John, Triptychon fr Orchester. I am not normally a big fan of
contemporary composition, but this piece intrigued me.
The first movement, St. John and the Twenty-Four Elders, contained beautiful solos, which were shared
throughout the orchestra. Concertmistress Kanako Ito played her reoccurring solo with exquisite passion. Unlike
the Brahms symphony, heard after intermission, the movements of the triptych melded into one another.
St. Michael Slays the Dragon, the second movement, came to life with rumbling bassoons and contrabassoon
playing the medieval song Lhomme arm (The Armed Man). Tambourine and cymbal added to the folklike
dance feeling of the piece. The struggle between St. Michael and the dragon was audible as lyrical lines were
pulled back and forth across the orchestra. The use of pizzicato slaps from the cello and string bass sections were
heard as ammunition being hurled at the dragon.
The dragon slain, the piece progressed to the final movement, St. John Devours the Book, which returned to the
serious mood of the opening. The piece at times was slightly marred by out-of-tune brass ensemble playing.
Danker was in attendance and was invited to the stage at the conclusion of the piece.
Yuja Wang made her second appearance with the Kansas City Symphony playing the Mendelssohn Concerto No.
1 in G minor for Piano and Orchestra, op. 25.
The 20-year-old pianist, born in Beijing, was a beauty to watch and hear. Florid passages were played with grace,
ease and agility. She engaged the orchestra in a game of musical catch and seamlessly went from soloist to
accompanist and back again.
The slow movement showed Wang has emotion and musicality beyond her years, as the solo piano section was
tender and soulful. Yet at times the piano was covered by the rich timbre of the viola and cello sections.
Wang let her fingers skillfully build excitement in the final movement. Her clean technique, combined with
excellent musicianship, led to an exhilarating, breathtaking performance.
Unable to hold back the excitement any longer, the audience erupted with applause, and she was rewarded with a
well-deserved standing ovation.
Frank Byrne, executive director of the Symphony, welcomed us back from intermission. He warmly introduced the
new viola section member and saluted Bill Drybread for his 50 years of musical service to the Kansas City
Philharmonic and Symphony.
The concert concluded with Brahms Symphony No. 3 in F Major, op. 90. It was masterfully conducted and
played. Powerful and lush string and brass resonances were enveloping like a good heavy quilt.
I have not heard the Kansas City Symphony play this exquisitely and passionately for a long time. I now
understand why Seibel has acquired quite a following in Kansas City. Under his expert leadership, I left to venture
back out into the cold night with my soul sufficiently warmed.

Yuja Wang
Reading Eagle October 8, 2007

Reading Symphony, Constantine make beautiful music together


BY SUSAN L. PENA

The orchestras new music director makes his debut Saturday night in a concert of works by
beloved Russian composers Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff.
Conductor Andrew Constantine made his debut as the Reading Symphony Orchestras new music director in a
concert featuring works by two of the most beloved Russian composers: Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff.
The first subscription concert of the season, held Saturday night in the Sovereign Performing Arts Center, featured
the formidable young Chinese pianist Yuja Wang playing Tchaikovskys Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor,
Op. 23, in a reading that made the old war horse seem newly composed.
The rest of the program was devoted to Rachmaninoffs Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27, revealing the RSO in
top form, with Constantine drawing from it a precise, wonderfully balanced, deeply expressive performance.
From the full-bodied opening of the Concerto to its bighearted conclusion, Wang proved why she has become such
a talked-about artist. Her perfect technique and big, warm sound are only the beginning.
She played with soul and a sweet seductiveness in the lyrical sections, displaying a complete understanding of the
Romantic sensibility; then she would spring into tigerish attacks that knocked the audience back in their seats. She
approached the work with a sense of discovery, giving it an improvisatory feel, and she rode the fast sections like a
racehorse.
Amidst all the bravura, there were moments of breathtaking quiet, like the beginning of the second movement with
its flute solo, beautifully played by principal Mary Berk, over tiny pizzicato strings unfolding like a flower into a
gentle dialogue between piano and woodwinds, and a fine cello solo by principal Douglas McNames.
Such attention to detail, and the musicians response to Constantines faultless direction, made this a thoroughly
captivating performance.
The Rachmaninoff symphony, with its Wagnerian chromatic tension and melancholy mood, seemed to erupt from
underground, as the basses opened with a rich, rumbling tone.
There was beautiful playing throughout the tormented first movement, the galloping Dies irae theme of the
second movement, the well-known Adagio (featuring a gorgeous clarinet solo by principal Janine Thomas), and
the sparkling finale.
Constantine and the RSO created moments of such stillness that time seemed to stop and no one breathed; then he
would unleash a burning energy out of nowhere. It was an incredible performance.
It seems the two will make a fine team.
N E W Y O RK | L OS A N G E LE S

Yuja Wang
The New Mexican (Santa Fe) July 17, 2007

Real Quiet is really quite good at Chamber Music Festival


BY CRAIG SMITH

Anyone who thinks recorded music always trumps live performance should have heard the Real Quiet ensemble play
Monday and Tuesday in St. Francis Auditorium. Theyd have had a change of heart on the spot.
Opening the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festivals 35th season, the California-based trio cellist Felix Fan, pianist
Andrew Russo and percussionist David Cossin not only played with the brilliance found on great recordings. Their
artistic discipline and emotional generosity also drew the audience along as they went straight to the heart of every
piece. That only happens when artists and audiences share the same time, space and goal: to come as close to perfection
as humanly possible.
Real Quiets repertoire was really luscious at the one-hour noon concert Tuesday. For Fan and Russo, there were
Beethovens G Minor cello sonata, Brittens C Major sonata, and Piazzollas Le Grand Tango. Fan and Cossin played
music arranged from Tan Duns film score for the 2000 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
There were occasional piano-cello balance problems in the Beethoven, but otherwise Fan and Russo projected sad,
aching tenderness in the opening Adagio, plenty of testosterone in the middle-movement Allegro molto and all the
merry force of a rushing wind in the closing Rondo. Beethoven stuffy? Not when played like this.
The Britten sonata, which he wrote in 1961 for Mstislav Rostropovich, is a wider and quirkier compositional landscape
than the Beethoven, though just as beautiful in its own way. Fan and Russo journeyed through its five movements with
impeccable control technique as a means to an end, not an end in itself. Russos piano work was sensitively gauged,
and Fans varied tones sounded like the taste of black walnuts and the color of dark amber.
The Tan Dun selection was wonderfully atmospheric. Fan and Cossin handled their complicated parts wonderfully
especially Cossin, who played a percussion tube with a built-in sound feedback module that changed electronic pitch as
the tube changed positions in the air. Impressive. Fan and Russo romped through the Piazzolla, riding its ever-growing
waves of sound like runners getting their second, third and fourth winds, to a fireworks of a conclusion.
Monday evenings concert, a reprise of Sundays season opener, began with festival artistic director Marc Neikrugs
Ritual. A co-commission with La Jolla Music Society and underwritten by Fans parents, it has some pretty moments
for all three instruments and Real Quiet played them well. But most of the piece was ungainly and ugly tone-crunching,
a musically inauspicious start to the season.
Soprano Patricia Racette and mezzo-soprano Beth Clayton gave operatically scaled, passionate readings of duets by
Schumann, Brahms and Tchaikovsky, with Neikrug at the piano. The pair sang with excellent German and Russian
diction and superb dynamic control, and if the sound was sometimes almost too big for St. Francis, it fit the material
perfectly. Tchaikovskys Passion Spent was especially thrilling.
Tchaikovskys Piano Trio in A Minor ended the concert with an incandescent performance from a threesome of
magnificent artists: violinist Daniel Hope, cellist Lynn Harrell and pianist Yuja Wang. To go into detail would be to
catalog the rainbow, so Ill just say it was one of the most memorable collaborations Ive heard at CMF in years.

Yuja Wang
The New Mexican July 17, 2007
page 2 of 2
Incidentally, the 20-year-old Wang has come a long way since she was a 2005 CMF young artist. Hearing her then, I
thought she was potentially world-class but a bit too het up on display over feeling. Shes got plenty of both now and
gets around the piano with purpose as well as passion. She equaled her senior colleagues intensity and musicianship in
the trio, and her noon solo recital Thursday in St. Francis should be something to remember.

Yuja Wang
San Francisco Classical Voice April 24, 2007

YujaMania I & II
BY JANOS GEREBEN

YujaMania I
Before singing a note, you take a breath. Before touching a key on the piano, you get your arms in position.
Preparation, attack: That's how it works. But Wednesday night, in Davies Hall, I saw and heard something different.
Yuja Wang, 20, the San Francisco Symphony's soloist in the Bee.
Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 2, performed technical and musical miracles. But the way she approached each note
dazzled most of all (except for the utter beauty of those pearly, "hesitating" notes
in the Adagio). I didn't quite believe it then, and it seems impossible even more
in retrospect: Wang seems to make no visual or audible preparation for the notes.
When it's time for her entrance, she touches, attacks, begins - yet none of it,
perceptibly. There is only the music, not the "technique," nor the making of
music. Her appearance here at the same time as eccentric titan of the piano
Marino Formenti's San Francisco Performances concerts in the de Young
Museum made last week a red-letter entry in the diaries of keyboard fanatics.
A noted Aspen Festival veteran, Jane Erb, wrote to Classical Voice about her: "I
have known Yuja since she was 15 and blew my socks off by learning the
second and third movements of the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 for a master
class with Leon Fleisher. She learned that monster in two weeks, while doing
other things, and memorized them the day before the master class. She was solid, too, and knew right where to go when
Leon directed so. This was just before she entered Curtis while she was a New Horizon student here at Aspen, with
John Perry.
"I am sure you know that her big, blockbuster piece is the Prokofiev Second. As she is tiny, I still can't imagine how
she does it. 'Yes,' she said to me, 'I have small hands but a big stretch.' I've been watching her since that first year. And
she's no prima donna either."
If you missed Wang this time around, take note of her San Francisco Performances recital next year. Yes, Ruth Felt,
who snatched up Lang Lang before he became, well, Lang Lang, contracted Wang early in her rise to fame. She will
play a concert on Feb. 10 in the S.F. Conservatory of Music Concert Hall.
YujaMania II
Last week's Music News referred to Yuja Wang's Web site, with free samples of her recordings of Prokofiev, Ligeti,
and Ravel, among others.

Yuja Wang
San Francisco Classical Voice April 24, 2007
page 2 of 2
Reader Charlie Cockey, in faraway Brno (of Jancek fame), went online, and after being delighted with her other
performances, he turned his attention to Wang's Ligeti Etudes:
Wow! She plays them right up there with the deity, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, who I heard in L.A., in the presence of
Ligeti himself. Unlike the pathetic performance of the Etudes a week or so previous in Berkeley (where Ligeti was
moved to get up on the stage with a blackboard and explain to the audience what he'd had in mind, because they sure
weren't hearing it from the pianist), in L.A., he just sat there a few seats away from me - his arms were folded across his
chest, he had a magnificent, pixie, ear-to-ear grin on his face, just eating it up. Too bad he couldn't have heard Wang
play them as well.
Again, here as in the Prokofiev Toccata on her Web site, it is so easy to hear Wang having fun with the music - and
how many players in the world can even play those works, much less with such aplomb, abandon, and sheer glee?
I've been listening to the "Fanfares" Etude, and going back-and-forth between the Yuja Wang Web site clip and the
Pierre-Laurent Aimard Sony recordings. The differences are both interesting and telling. In the opening 15 to 20
seconds, for example, Aimard's choice of touch-texture voicing tends to smooth out some of the irregularities in the
opening right-hand fanfare. As he plays them, the right hand figures seem almost quarter-note steady (or at least some
their metrical peculiarities seem much more invisible). But listen to Wang - that right hand line is hard-edged, and
driving, and the asymmetries are somehow much more forcefully evident.
On the other hand, that rolling ostinato in the left hand, when she plays it, is a straight pattern with no accents, but
Aimard gives the bottom note a pronounced accent, which sets up an even more insistent
regularity to the pulse that makes the right hand's metric perambulations more noticeable.
So, in their own way, each has set the right hand to a fanfaring, but my ideal performance for
this section would be his left hand and her right.
As the piece progresses the differences in the choices of the two pianists continue to amaze and
perplex - sometimes Aimard shines and at other times, Wang. Given how much I love Aimard's
interpretation that is mighty praise! For maximal fun, I played the two recordings at the same
time, turning the music into a crazy two-piano canon.
Pierre Laurent Aimard
Photo by Vivien Harrison Parrott

Yuja Wang
San Francisco Chronicle April 20, 2007

Young pianist Wang shows immense talent in early Beethoven piece


BY JOSHUA KOSMAN

Wednesday's concert by the San Francisco Symphony introduced most listeners to an extraordinary new musical talent:
pianist Yuja Wang. Perhaps the only thing more remarkable than the splendor of her performance was the fact that she
made her mark in the comparatively flimsy vehicle of Beethoven's Second Piano Concerto.
At 20, Wang has both the energetic, fearless imagination of youth and the probing sensitivity that in most artists comes
only with maturity -- as well as the keyboard technique to put all her ideas flawlessly into action. To hear an artist so
extravagantly gifted on every front is to realize how much compromise is usually involved in hearing even the most
impressive virtuosos.
Wednesday's performance, in collaboration with guest conductor Charles Dutoit, was not Wang's first appearance in
Davies Symphony Hall, but it was the first chance for most local concertgoers to hear what she can do in the standard
repertoire. Wang made her debut last year in the orchestra's Chinese New Year concert, and returned in September to
perform Ravel's G-Major Concerto in a concert that wasn't open to the public.
Now we know just what we've been missing. Chinese-born and trained at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, Wang
boasts a keyboard approach that is both steely and poetic, and often both at once.
She dispatches passagework with a degree of precision and evenness that would sound superhuman, even mechanical,
if not for the fact that each note is invested with a silvery, communicative glow. Her dynamic range is phenomenal,
from huge fortissimo chords to whispery tendrils of sound. She applies a wide variety of weights and colors to
harmonies and textures, so that even repeated passages never sound entirely the same.
And she worked all this magic all in Beethoven's Second, the least substantive or interesting of his piano concertos. The
numbering is misleading -- although it was published second, this is the first concerto Beethoven completed, and with
its formulaic structures and taste for the predictable, it's the work of a gifted but still developing genius.
Or so I thought before I heard Wang have her way with it. Wednesday's performance revealed new and unsuspected
dimensions to the music, most of them having to do with what must have been the similarly dynamic performing style
of the young Beethoven (he was 25 at the premiere).
Wang tore through the potentially clattery scales and arpeggios of the first movement as though they carried some
urgent dramatic message -- and making a listener believe it in the process. In the rambunctious rondo finale, Wang
ramped up the weight and impact of her touch to create a powerhouse effect.
Most stunning, though, was the slow movement, whose lyrical stream of melody can sound beautiful but predictable in
most performances. But by varying the rhythmic profile of the line in a thousand microscopic ways, Wang turned it
into an ardent and even suspenseful soliloquy.
Dutoit was an elegant, supportive partner throughout, making sure the orchestra offered her a firm backdrop without
crowding her style. The remainder of the program, featuring music by Ravel and Strauss, found him in equally fine
form.

Yuja Wang
San Francisco Chronicle April 20, 2007
page 2 of 2
Next season, Dutoit begins a stint as chief conductor and artistic adviser of the Philadelphia Orchestra -- a sort of
stopgap while the orchestra casts about for a music director to succeed Christoph Eschenbach -- and just hours before
the concert came news of another appointment. In 2009, Dutoit will succeed Daniele Gatti as artistic director and
principal conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London.
The illness of principal keyboardist Robin Sutherland forced a late change in Wednesday's program, as Frank Martin's
"Petite Symphonie concertante" was replaced by Ravel's "Le Tombeau de Couperin." The suite from Richard Strauss'
"Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme" occupied the second half as planned.
The result was a thematic pairing of almost comically exact consistency. Both pieces were written in 1917, and each
one is a modern-day reimagining of music from the Baroque.
Ravel's homage to Franois Couperin sounded sweet and stylish, though another rehearsal or two might have firmed up
some of the textures. Principal oboist William Bennett was the hero of the proceedings, occupying the spotlight in
nearly every movement and doing it with nimble panache.
Strauss' pastiche of Lully and other composers (including himself) got a vivid, well-turned reading, with superb
contributions from concertmaster Alexander Barantschik and principal cellist Michael Grebanier.

Yuja Wang
San Francisco Chronicle April 14, 2007

Liszt, Beethoven, Prokofiev what could be cooler than playing


these guys?
BY JOSHUA KOSMAN

Anyone meeting pianist Yuja Wang for the first time could easily take her for any one of the bright, vivacious 20-yearolds who inhabit the nation's college campuses and shopping malls.
It's an understandable mistake. Bubbly and talkative, Wang peppers her conversation with "like" and "cool" and
"whoa!" She giggles and tosses her hair. She's wholly charming, in a youthful, gum-chewing sort of way.
And -- oh, yeah -- she can barrel through any of the major piano concertos with enough technical prowess and
interpretive depth to make her elder colleagues weep with envy. Wang is due in Davies Symphony Hall next week to
play Beethoven's Second Piano Concerto with the San Francisco Symphony under guest conductor Charles Dutoit. It's
not the first time she's performed here -- she appeared with conductor Edwin Outwater during last season's Chinese
New Year's concert and returned in September to play Ravel once with Michael Tilson Thomas -- but it's her first full
engagement with the orchestra, and part of a season full of debuts.
When we spoke in September, Wang was looking forward to her coming concerto appearances with all the breathless
ebullience of someone plotting an extravagant resort vacation. "There's the Prokofiev Second in Chicago, and the
Prokofiev Third. The Beethoven Second here, the Liszt First with the New York Philharmonic, and then I'm doing the
Tchaikovsky First with Yuri Temirkanov and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic -- that'll be fun! I always thought it was a
cheesy piece and I'd never play it, but I think I was wrong."
As Wang herself might say, whoa! Isn't that a lot of repertoire to keep in one's head at once? She conceded the point,
sort of. "My managers always think I should focus on three," Wang said with a slightly guilty shrug. "But I like variety,
and it keeps me from being bored. I'm easily bored."
Maybe so, but you can't tell from the responses to her playing. When she made her Chicago Symphony debut with
Dutoit last month in the Prokofiev Second Concerto, critics fell out of their chairs. In the Chicago Tribune, John von
Rhein praised her "sinewy power, stamina and agility," and wrote that "the big cadenza to the first movement, with its
cascading runs and coruscating chords in rapid succession, had audience members looking at each other in happy
disbelief."
Her repertoire extends beyond the standard Classical and Romantic showpieces, too. When I chanced upon her recital
for the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival last summer, what caught my eye was her promise to perform a handful of
Gyrgy Ligeti's Piano Etudes -- an increasingly important part of the contemporary piano world, but hardly a common
offering from a traditionally minded virtuoso.
"I heard a CD by Pierre-Laurent Aimard," she said, "and I thought, 'That stuff is really cool! Maybe I can play it.' I love
the stuff that's really mathematical; it can drive you insane."
In the end, the Ligeti pieces didn't show up on the program because ... well, Wang forgot to bring her music to Santa
Fe. Instead, she gave magnificent performances of Ravel's "La Valse" and three of Liszt's piano transcriptions of
Schubert songs, playing with ferocious technique and an extraordinary sense of lyricism.
Wang was born in Beijing, the only child of a dancer and a percussionist. She began studying piano at 6, although she
said she was exposed to music her whole life ("My dad is crazy about the Beatles"). She studied at the Central

Yuja Wang
San Francisco Chronicle April 14, 2007
page 2 of 2
Conservatory in Beijing until she was 14, studying with the same exacting, Russian-trained teacher the entire time.
Then she got out, living in Calgary for a year -- "it was boring!" -- before moving to Philadelphia to study with Gary
Graffman at the Curtis Institute. A few years in North America have been enough to expunge almost all trace of China
from her speech, and although her parents are still in Beijing, she considers Philadelphia her home now.
"I'm never going back to Beijing. I just visited back there, and it's a totally different world. I love the food, but they
don't have good pianos, and the audiences are weird -- very critical and judgmental. Here people just enjoy the music."
When she isn't busy adding to her ever-growing repertoire of concertos, solo music and chamber pieces, Wang is an
inveterate reader. "My friends are like, 'You're so nerdy,' because I read like crazy. But I'm, like, 'Get over it.' " Recent
favorites include Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray" and Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables," not to mention the
Bard of Avon. "I just love Shakespeare -- not that I really understand it. But everything he says is, like, 'Wow, that's so
true!' "
In addition to her regular engagements, Wang makes herself available for substitutions -- another area where her large
repertoire proves an asset. In the last year alone, she has stepped in for Radu Lupu, Jon Kimura Parker and Murray
Perahia, and generally received raves. It's all part of Wang's restless, boundlessly energetic approach to her career.
"I love taking the risks, and doing things I can brag about. To take a red-eye flight and then play a concert the next day
-- it's so fun! "And traveling alone is great for reading a book. As long as I have a nice piano to practice on and a nice
hotel, I'm home."

Yuja Wang
Chicago Tribune March 24, 2007

Wang, Dutoit combine for high-voltage performance


By JOHN VON RHEIN

At Thursday night's subscription concert by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a 20-year-old pianist from China and a
70-year-old conductor from Switzerland generated enough electricity to light up Symphony Center for days.
The pianist was Yuja Wang, a greatly gifted Curtis Institute undergraduate making a triumphant CSO debut. The
conductor was Charles Dutoit, the Philadelphia Orchestra's newly named chief conductor and musical adviser,
beginning a two-week guest engagement here.
At Wang's Chicago recital debut nearly a year ago (when she was a last-minute replacement for Murray Perahia), she
struck me as a promising work in progress. What a difference a year can make! She is a wisp of a girl, with smallish
hands and loose brown hair spilling all over her face as she flings herself from one end of the keyboard to the other. But
the sinewy power, stamina and agility she brought to Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 2 belied her modest appearance.
Wang proved herself more than a match for one of the most ferocious knuckle-busters in the repertory. Not for her the
hard, metallic sound many pianists use to pummel Prokofiev into submission: Her tone reached deep into the Steinway,
full where necessary, supple where the music drifts into dreamy lyricism or dances sinuously. The big cadenza to the
first movement, with its cascading runs and coruscating chords in rapid succession, had audience members looking at
each other in happy disbelief.
Wang poured on the speed like a possessed dervish in the brief Scherzo and stormy finale, without making it feel as if
she were showing off to the gallery. The rapid-fire exchanges between piano and orchestra went off like precisely
timed firecrackers.
She and Dutoit have performed together before, and his knack for clarifying orchestral detail told throughout their tight
collaboration.
Thursday's audience rose to its feet at the exhilarating close, awarding Wang a hefty volume of applause and shouts of
approval. Clearly the acclaim she drew earlier this month in Boston as a late replacement for Martha Argerich was no
fluke. If she continues to develop at this pace musically, there will be no stopping her.

Yuja Wang
Chicago Tribune March 24, 2007

Wang, Dutoit combine for high-voltage performance


BY JOHN VON RHEIN

At Thursday night's subscription concert by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a 20-year-old pianist from China
and a 70-year-old conductor from Switzerland generated enough electricity to light up Symphony Center for days.
The pianist was Yuja Wang, a greatly gifted Curtis Institute undergraduate making a triumphant CSO debut. The
conductor was Charles Dutoit, the Philadelphia Orchestra's newly named chief conductor and musical adviser,
beginning a two-week guest engagement here.
At Wang's Chicago recital debut nearly a year ago (when she was a last-minute replacement for Murray Perahia),
she struck me as a promising work in progress. What a difference a year can make! She is a wisp of a girl, with
smallish hands and loose brown hair spilling all over her face as she flings herself from one end of the keyboard to
the other. But the sinewy power, stamina and agility she brought to Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 2 belied her
modest appearance.
Wang proved herself more than a match for one of the most ferocious knuckle-busters in the repertory. Not for her
the hard, metallic sound many pianists use to pummel Prokofiev into submission: Her tone reached deep into the
Steinway, full where necessary, supple where the music drifts into dreamy lyricism or dances sinuously. The big
cadenza to the first movement, with its cascading runs and coruscating chords in rapid succession, had audience
members looking at each other in happy disbelief.
Wang poured on the speed like a possessed dervish in the brief Scherzo and stormy finale, without making it feel
as if she were showing off to the gallery. The rapid-fire exchanges between piano and orchestra went off like
precisely timed firecrackers.
She and Dutoit have performed together before, and his knack for clarifying orchestral detail told throughout their
tight collaboration.
Thursday's audience rose to its feet at the exhilarating close, awarding Wang a hefty volume of applause and
shouts of approval. Clearly the acclaim she drew earlier this month in Boston as a late replacement for Martha
Argerich was no fluke. If she continues to develop at this pace musically, there will be no stopping her.
Ravel's "Le Tombeau de Couperin," which began the concert, charmed the ear with light, fleet woodwind interplay
(led by Eugene Izotov's liquid oboe), its finely wrought timbres glinting like tiny jewels.
What a pleasure to hear a great orchestra delighting in the Arabian Nights fantasy and opulent scoring of RimskyKorsakov's "Scheherazade" as ours did under Dutoit. Concertmaster Robert Chen's silken violin solos were
seductive enough to soothe the most savage sultan's breast.

Yuja Wang
Philadelphia Inquirer March 10, 2007

Yuja Wangs Tchaikovsky astonishes


BY DAVID PATRICK STEARNS

Any pianist who replaces an artist of the Martha Argerich caliber is likely to see more than the usual number of empty
seats abandoned by disappointed ticketholders. Who could compare to Saint Martha?
The answer at yesterday afternoon's Boston Symphony Orchestra concert was Yuja Wang, the China-born 20-year-old
in her last year at Curtis Institute whose musical presence in recent years has made her an honorary Philadelphian.
Though Wang's temperament contrasts rather than compares to Argerich's, the audience was visibly warming to her in
the opening minutes of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1: Programs rustled as listeners consulted her biography; a
purse rummager halted in mid-rummage. Even the best orchestras phone in a Tchaikovsky concerto accompaniment,
but not these Bostonians on this day. By the end of the final movement, the audience stood and roared - even more,
reportedly, than at Thursday's opening night.
Wang's Boston Symphony debut was hatched when Argerich decided she was too exhausted after her Philadelphia
concerts to fulfill her Boston commitments. Conductor Charles Dutoit, who was to work with Argerich in Boston as he
had in recent days with the Philadelphia Orchestra, suggested Wang as a replacement. They had performed together in
Tokyo, and the idea arose when she paid a backstage courtesy call on him at the Kimmel Center.
Though Wang was cautioned not to get her hopes up because bigger names were being solicited, she recently had
played the Tchaikovsky with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, and it fit perfectly with Dutoit's Boston program.
Besides, he wanted a big-boned repertoire for anyone replacing Argerich. And the Tchaik First is the concerto that
launched a thousand careers.
"She doesn't know that it's difficult," Dutoit said after yesterday's performance.
Backstage well-wishers called the concert among the best in their experience; others declared it historic. Meanwhile,
Wang was rotating her wardrobe between a slinky pink number and an iridescent green silk - a psychological trick she
plays on herself to freshen performances. "I want to be different every time," she said.
Her success might seem doubly remarkable among Yuja watchers, who could question whether Tchaikovsky taps her
best qualities. Though the concerto's virtuosic qualities draw from her a compact, polished though not slick sonority
that wears well on the ears, Wang is a seasoned chamber musician whose best moments come from small jewellike
phrases that can be particularly arresting in majestic works of Beethoven where one doesn't always expect them. In fact,
the big final flourish of Tchaikovsky's first movement wasn't pounded out to the gallery - as per usual - but integrated
into the overall sonority. That's one of the things Dutoit loves about her: "There's no theater!" Except, perhaps, the
response to her playing.
True to form, Wang was casual about the ovations until she realized she's appearing in a season with Alfred Brendel
and other pianistic gods. "What am I doing here?" she asked rhetorically. Answer: Getting used to it.

Yuja Wang
The Boston Globe March 9, 2007

At 20, stepping in for a piano star


BY JEREMY EICHLER

This week's BSO program made news before it took place, as the pianist Martha Argerich withdrew from all four
performances, pleading physical exhaustion and doctor's orders to return home to Europe. This brilliant and reclusive
pianist enjoys a passionate following and her fans must surely have been disappointed, though certainly not surprised.
Argerich's cancellations have grown sadly frequent in recent years; an advance ticket purchase has become something
of a gamble.
Stepping in for this shadowy piano goddess would be a daunting task for just about anyone, but the orchestra and
Charles Dutoit , as this week's guest conductor, brought in a young Chinese pianist named Yuja Wang , only 20 years
old and currently completing her undergraduate work at the Curtis Institute of Music. Despite her age, Wang appears to
be on a career fast track, making her first appearances this season with the San Francisco Symphony, the New York
Philharmonic, and the Chicago Symphony, among others.
She cuts a very diminutive figure, but last night, wearing a bright pink dress, she tackled Tchaikovsky's First Piano
Concerto with impressive virtuosity and poise. Her playing overall was musical without being mannered, her phrasing
lithe, and her articulation exceptionally clean across the acres of rapid passagework. She found some unusual colors in
the first-movement cadenza and one can imagine her interpretative voice growing more distinctive with time. Her
sound was large enough to be heard above the orchestra without appearing strident. In fact, her temperament seemed
rather Apollonian for this very Dionysian work, but she had no trouble drawing in the audience, which was on its feet
cheering immediately after the final chord.
The Tchaikovsky Concerto was itself a substitution for the Beethoven First that Argerich was scheduled to play, but in
a way, it fit more smoothly with the rest of this Russian program on which Dutoit led Rimsky-Korsakov's "Russian
Easter Overture" and Stravinsky's Symphony in C . In the former work , Dutoit made the most of its glittering surfaces
and had the orchestra sounding marvelous. The strings played with a lovely gossamer sheen and the brass sound was
smooth and rich, with an especially notable trombone chorale of dark velvet.
Stravinsky's Symphony in C is a work perforated down the middle by exile. He wrote the first two movements in
Europe and the second two in this country, having fled the storm clouds of 1939. It's easy to hear the piece in terms of
this biographic subtext and to note, as Stravinsky did, the anxious shifts in meter that quickly begin piling up once the
"American" half begins. But the piece also coheres on its own terms as a delightful excursion in the composer's
neoclassical style. One can imagine Stravinsky strolling through a museum of the symphonic past with an impish smile
on his face. Familiar conventions from previous centuries are given wry, ironic treatment. Sweet candy becomes black
licorice.
The orchestra was in fine form, with Dutoit drawing out perfectly tart playing from the woodwinds, and angular,
incisive lines in the strings. Tempos were spacious and unhurried. The work may end with a New World sound, but
here it had an Old World elegance.

SddeutscheZeitung Montag,30. Oktober200G

mmFeger
Yuja Wang mit viel Schwungim Herkulessaal
Haydns Klaviersonate Nr. 50 in C-Dur
ist ein luftiger Leckerbissen, vergngi
und unbeschwert, vertrumt und voller
Energie. Und es ist bewundernswert, wie
die Chinesin Yuja Wang diesen Haydn im
Herkulessaal spielt: fein, przise, ohne
die raschen Lufe mit dem Pedal zuzukleistern,.mit leicht getupftem Staccato,
explosiven Akzenten und lyrisch gezeichneter Melodik im Adagio, das dennoch
unaufdringlich und keineswegs schmalztriefend daherkommt.
Das ist hohe, ausgewogene Klavierkunst, so knnte es weitergehen. Und beinahe mchte man bedauern, dass Wang
sehr rasch den Weg zur Virtuosenliteratur einschlgt und ihre ruhige, berlegene Haltung dabei der Schauspielkunst
opfert. Sptestens bei Liszts TranskriptionvonSchuberts ,,Erlknig" wird sie daher von den tosenden Repetitionen derart durchgebeutelt, dass einem Angst
und Bange wird. Und was die junge Pianistin da durch Nacht und Wind reiten
lsst, erinnert weniger an besorgte Vter

samt Sprssiing, sondern eher an eine


wild gewordene Kavalleristenschar. Wie
gut, dass Wang dieser martialischen
Technikdemonstration Ravels,,La Valse" folgen lsst, eine humorvolle Parodie
auf den Wiener Walzer, mit viel Schmh,
dissonanten Attacken, rauschenden Giissandi und weiterem Bombast, die Wang
mit kurios platzierten Crescendi und
charmanter Agogik gut in Szene setzt.
Und weil es gerade so schn ist, walzt
sie gleich noch, ohne sich dabei frir ein bestimmtes Tempo entschlieen zu wollen,
durch Chopins g-Moll-Ballade. In der
Coda jedoch nimmt sie das Presto con fuoco verdammt ernst und rast ungebremst
von dannen - beinahe eine Vorausahnung der finalen, hmmernden Prokofjew-Toccata fr Klavier, op. 11. Doch
hier besinnt sich Wang auf die musikalische Klasse und den differenzierten Ausdrucksgehalt ihrer ersten Darbietung.
ANDREAS PERNPEINTNER
Verantwortlich:

Franz Kotteder

Yuja Wang
Kansas City Star February 12, 2007

Cold concert landscape finally warms


Pianists show with KC Symphony stirs the blood
BY PAUL HORSELY

Some chilly winds blew over the citys concert stages this weekend. By Sunday the jazzy swing of the Kansas City
Symphonys performance of Gershwin brought a welcome blast of warmth.
It began Friday with the Friends of Chamber Musics presentation of the Mir String Quartet, an enormously
gifted young ensemble with a polished and uniform sound.
But its astringent program featured Shostakovichs 14th String Quartet as a centerpiece, one of the composers last
works and far from accessible. It features a central Adagio that is so remote and personal that its hard to find
universal messages at all, other than empathy for the composers misery.
The Mirs approach was to plumb the works austerity rather than try to find a warmer, more passionate strain.
The same cool austerity didnt mortally wound Haydns F-minor Quartet (Op. 24, No. 5), but it threatened to
suffocate Beethovens E-minor Quartet, Op. 59, No. 2. Breakneck tempos precluded the contours and chiaroscuro
that give Beethoven its craggy drama.
There was an aptness to the groups encore, perhaps, the slow movement of the Debussy String Quartet, which
even if its not intended as a depiction of an icy landscape might as well be.
Other weekend highlights were performances by two young women making a dent in the piano world. Both are
20 and are students, but the similarity pretty much ends there.
Beijing-born Yuja Wang played Saturday at White Hall with clarity, fantastically deft fingers and a precocious
grasp of styles. One came away with the impression more of a pianists pianist than a searching musical mind. But
there is time for her to develop into an exceptional musician.
Most impressive was her Chopin, especially the G-minor Ballade, which built from quiet stealth to a series of welltimed climaxes. The clean, high-register pianissimo passage dazzled for its crystalline accuracy.
There was often a kind of introversion in the gentility of her playing, though, which made Haydns big C-major
Sonata (Hob. XVI:50) feel remote despite its extreme attention to detail. In Liszt transcriptions of Schubert songs
her sonority was at times so hushed sometimes that not all the notes sounded. Not until Der Erlkoenig did the
pianist finally tear into the keys with panache.
Her best showing was in Prokofievs barnstorming Toccata, which was all the more effective for the quietude at
the opening, which exploded into an outstanding technical display.
The Kansas City Symphonys soloist for Gershwins Concerto in F was Korean-born Joyce Yang, silver
medalist at the 2005 Van Cliburn Competition.
Yangs playing Sunday had such a natural, unforced ease that you couldnt help being pulled along. Though her
sense of swing was upstaged by that of principal trumpeter Gary Schutza who could step into the Count Basie
Orchestra today if he wanted to her playing had an extroverted directness that I appreciated after so much
inward playing through the weekend.
I was seated near the back of Yardley Hall, but I still felt she was playing for me.

Yuja Wang
Kansas City Star February 12, 2007
page 2 of 2
The rest of the concert was a mixed affair, with German-born guest conductor Jun Mrkl leading an almost
perversely unfussy Brahms Fourth Symphony. Brisk tempos turned their back on Old World ponderousness.
Balances were erratic, but there was honesty and conviction to the approach, and the slow movement featured
some lavishly beautiful playing by wind principals and the delicious-sounding cello section.

Yuja Wang
Kansas City Star February 12, 2007

Pianist emphasizes delicacy, clarity over extroversion


BY PAUL HORSLEY

Pianist Yuja Wang possesses enormous gifts at the keyboard: clarity, delicacy, a sense of pacing and fantastically
deft fingers.
At her Kansas City recital debut Saturday at White Hall, the Beijing-born Curtis Institute of Music student
revealed a precocious grasp of a wide variety of musical styles.
If one came away with the impression more of a pianists' pianist than a searching musical mind, one had to
remember her youth. Saturday was Yuja Wang's 20th birthday. There is time for her to develop into an exceptional
musician, and she is well on the way.
Most impressive to me was her Chopin, especially the G-minor Ballade, which built from quiet stealth to a series
of well-timed climaxes. The clean, high-register pianissimo passage halfway through was dazzling for its
crystalline, almost understated accuracy.
Chopin's C-sharp-minor Waltz (Op. 64, No. 2) featured two headlong but carefully gauged accelerations before
settling back into gentle repose. The elusive Polonaise-Fantasy, Op. 61, eschewed drama in favor of inward
contemplation.
There was often a kind of introversion in the gentility, which made Haydn's big C-major Sonata (Hob. XVI:50)
feel remote despite its extreme attention to detail. Even Ravel's "La Valse" remained in a bit of a haze instead of
bursting forth into a tutti blaze.
In Liszt transcriptions of Schubert songs her sonority was at times so hushed sometimes that not all the notes
sounded. Not until "Der Erlkoenig" did the pianist finally tear into the keys with panache.
Her best showing was in Prokofiev's barnstorming Toccata, which was all the more effective for the quietude at the
opening, which exploded into an outstanding technical display. An encore of a Toccata by Scarlatti was fleet and
smart and sent the audience out into the cold with a smile.

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The New York Times January 13, 2005

Nordic Program Clarifies Goals for a Conductor in the Wings


BY JAMES R. OESTREICH

NEWARK, Jan. 13 - When Neeme Jarvi takes over as music director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra next fall,
he will inherit a major task and a potential mission. Both seemed clear in the orchestra's concert here at the New Jersey
Performing Arts Center on Thursday night, conducted not by Mr. Jarvi but by his 32-year-old Estonian compatriot, Anu
Tali.
The task will be to make the woodwind and brass players perform with the polish, subtlety, warmth and cohesiveness
of the string players, newly empowered by the orchestra's acquisition of a cache of valuable string instruments. Despite
Ms. Tali's best efforts, and they were considerable, supporting passages in the winds sometimes jarred, especially in
Sibelius's Fifth Symphony, a consummately organic work that suffers more than most from imbalances.
That said, Ms. Tali elicited an excellent performance over all, catching most of the symphony's majesty if not all of its
mystery. The long sweeps and mighty surges were all in place, nowhere more than at the end of the first movement,
where an accelerating crescendo runs head on into a wall of silence. Though too hidebound myself to applaud between
movements of a symphony, I was tempted to join the many in the audience who did.
The program was the second of three in the orchestra's annual winter festival, this year called Northern Lights. It also
included works more obscure and more popular: Niels Gade's Mendelssohnian concert overture "Hamlet" and Grieg's
ever-popular Piano Concerto.
Ms. Tali acquitted herself well here, too, and the Grieg came with another powerful attraction: the remarkable
17-year-old Chinese-born pianist Yujia Wang. Ms. Wang, a student at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia,
performed with an assurance that belied her age, displaying a clean, sparkling technique and plenty of strength
but also a fine sense of rhythmic freedom. The current young lions among Chinese-born pianists, Lang Lang
and Yundi Li, had better start looking over their shoulders.
As for Mr. Jarvi's mission, should he accept it: with his obvious taste for Nordic music and with a readily available
stable of maestros - including his conducting sons, Paavo and Kristjan, and Ms. Tali - to extend the Nordic range, he
seems to be ideally placed to develop a specialty with this orchestra much the way Charles Dutoit did in French music
with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. As there, it would come as added value and needn't detract all that much from
the orchestra's typical repertory.
You have to think that having conceived Northern Lights even before he arrives officially, he wants to do something
like that. In any case, he will be back to conclude the festival next week, with works of Carl Nielsen and Sibelius.

Yuja Wang
The Philadelphia Inquirer October 31, 2005

Her keyboard command lets Curtis student Yuja Wang, 18, take
risks other pianists might avoid, and her studious presence belies
her imaginative flair.
BY DAVID PATRICK STEARNS

Even when she's not playing piano, Yuja Wang's fingers tap into the air as if she were.
This latest Curtis Institute of Music candidate for classical music stardom - she's already made her Kimmel Center
debut - is on her first outing with the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2, in a rehearsal with the Orchestra of the
Southern Finger Lakes. During the orchestral interludes, her hands are, in a sense, "mouthing" the concerto as she
puts its pieces together in her restless mind. This isn't last-minute cramming. It's her process.
"I can't stand thinking it all out beforehand," says the Beijing-born Wang. "When I practice, I like to play different
spots in different pieces. I tend to be random."
Many classical musicians - with rare exceptions such as Leopold Stokowski - won't risk making significant
interpretive decisions on the spot. But at age 18, Wang's command of the keyboard is such that her fingers create
a secure bedrock over which her imagination runs. While the famous opening of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto
No. 2 suggests ominously tolling bells to many, Wang perceives the composer, who was recovering from a
breakdown, as searching to find the piece's home key-signature, its structural foundation. Later in the concerto,
she visualizes herself in an abstract "energy field." She thinks colors, and then plays them.
That, plus her counter-rebellious spirit, is why Yuja Wang is atypical of career pianists arising from China - and,
for that matter, Curtis. She's had the same teachers as the popular Lang Lang, both at the Central Conservatory of
Music in Beijing as well as Gary Graffman at Curtis. She's being shepherded into the music business by Lang
Lang's first American manager, Earl Blackburn.
Yet in contrast to Lang Lang's exuberant flamboyance, Wang's best moments are in chamber music, which she
plays with a startlingly warm, recognizable sound and a spontaneous way of phrasing that makes the music unfold
as if it's being composed on the spot.
In a way, it is. Part of her spontaneity comes from learning in a matter of days or weeks music that takes other
pianists months or years. In her playing, you hear the flush of first discovery. Because too much practicing dulls
Wang's enthusiasm, and since she can pull many pieces out of her hat, manager Blackburn jokingly fears that
she'll walk onstage and play the wrong concerto.
How well-grounded is that fear?
"It's deep-rooted!" Wang says with a laugh, but with no apology. "Well, you have to do whatever works."
Backstage in Elmira, as she's studying a list of notes from the conductor, you wouldn't guess that such talent is
inside of her. With her blond-streaked hair and hip-hugger jeans, she might have just walked out of a New Jersey
shopping mall. Having lived in the West for the last four years (and on her own for the last two), Wang is
scrupulously American, punctuating most sentences with a girlish laugh and describing herself as a slacker who
needs two bars of dark chocolate to get herself to practice Rachmaninoff. She uses out-of-town gigs as an
opportunity to catch up on sleep she doesn't get in Philadelphia.

Yuja Wang
The Philadelphia Inquirer October 31, 2005
page 2 of 3
Yet her intelligence is such that she passed her GED exam three years ago after studying the English language
only one year. You wonder if, after years of hard piano study in China, and winning midlevel competitions in
Spain and Germany, she's having her adolescence late. Her laughter stops: "Maybe that's what I'm doing."
Who can really tell? Wang inhabits such a singular world of gifted young musicians that she doesn't think it
unusual that she's playing concerts with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and toured last season with the China
Philharmonic - including a stop at the Kimmel Center. Nothing unusual, either, about taking on blockbuster
repertoire - Rachmaninoff this month, Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 27 Tuesday at New York's Weill Recital
Hall, and Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 2 on Nov. 12 with the Susquehanna Symphony in Bel Air, Md.
You can all but predict her success. What's remarkable is that she conquers even provincial audiences with a
studious presence - one that's also been the source of conflict with her more traditional Chinese mother who is a
dancer. "Her idea is to make gestures, to visualize the music for the audience," says Wang. "But I don't think that's
part of my job. It actually gets in my way."
But she also resists the idea that she's the opposite of Lang Lang, whose playing she likes and whose flashy
physicality "is really a Chinese-parent thing."
So is, to a certain extent, the emphasis on crowd-pleasing Russian repertoire. "A lot of artists," she says,
struggling to be tactful, "think this is entertainment."
"She's holding back sometimes, which I was accused of doing when I was her age," says teacher Graffman, who
heads the Curtis Institute. "I was accused of being too square. She starts with that and goes from there. Lang Lang
is the opposite: He starts at the other extreme and you try to rein him in."
Like Lang Lang, Wang began playing at an early age - 4 - and after successful concerts in Germany and Australia
at ages 10 and 11, she showed enough talent to enter Beijing's Central Conservatory, studying with the husbandand-wife team of Ling Yuan and Zhou Guangren. She was taught in the Russian tradition of slow but continuous
practice, which allowed her relatively tiny hands to encompass the necessary octaves of the big romantic
repertoire.
At age 14, she placed third in the Special Jury Award at the First Japan Sendai International Music Competition,
and didn't look back: She migrated to Mount Royal College in Calgary, Alberta, for a year before being accepted
at the Curtis Institute. Though she was required to live with a host family at first, she moved out on her 16th
birthday.
Her Americanization was well under way: "I can express my own opinion and not be judged, or at least not as
harshly. The Chinese view is more narrow-minded. The advantage is that you're more concentrated, which can
give very good results. But here, people are well- rounded."
She's had prestigious successes with the Tonhalle Orchestra of Zurich, and after she replaced an indisposed Radu
Lupu with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, music director Pinchas Zukerman told Blackburn that
rarely had he met "a talent this deep." He wants her back every season.
Still, Wang is hard-pressed to say at what point she decided upon a career in piano. "What career?" she says. "I
have a lot of other interests, like psychology. I really appreciate literature, like Shakespeare."
As much as that comment suggests a lack of commitment, Graffman is confident of her seriousness. He's
impressed that she's so fascinated with other arts. Wang went to the Salvador Dal retrospective at the
Philadelphia Museum of Art four times. Her interest was particularly piqued by paintings with different images
superimposed on each other.
And while she more readily discusses jazz and rap, her real idol is one of the great singing actresses of the 20th
century, Maria Callas. Wang is enthralled not only by her singing, but also by her master classes at the Juilliard
School of Music, which were recorded and published.

Yuja Wang
The Philadelphia Inquirer October 31, 2005
page 3 of 3
"I thought that, like me, Callas did everything intuitively," she says. "But she thought through all of her roles. Part
of it is her phrasing and sound. It's so real and so moving... . "
Her girlish laugh subsides. Words fail her. And then they don't: "Callas used singing to express her personal life.
It's the idea that art isn't separate from life. She's inspirational!"

Yuja Wang
Chicago Tribune April 11, 2005

Future star shines as guest of South Bend Symphony


BY ANDREW S. HUGHES

SOUTH BEND -- Saturday's audience for the fifth masterworks concert of the season by the South Bend Symphony
Orchestra should consider itself lucky:
Not only did it receive a magnificent performance by the orchestra and Maestro Tsung Yeh, it witnessed a star in the
making give a stunning performance when Yuja Wang joined the orchestra for Edvard Grieg's Concerto for Piano and
Orchestra in A Minor, Opus 16.
The varied and delightful program for the concert at the Morris Performing Arts Center featured works by three
Scandinavian composers, including Jan Sibelius' Symphony No. 1 in E Minor, Opus 39, and Hugo Alfvn's Swedish
Rhapsody No. 1, "The Midsummer Vigil," Opus 19, in addition to the Grieg concerto, and continued the symphony's
seasonlong exploration of the Romantic era.
From the vision of vast open spaces that Trevor O'Riordan's opening clarinet solo produced to the mad-dash crescendo
that led to its finale, Yeh and the orchestra delivered a masterful rendition of Sibelius' first symphony to open the
concert. The orchestra's performance was full of life, humor, friction and sweeping beauty.
In the first movement, O'Riordan's clarinet solo also contained a heralding call that was answered by the gathering
force of the full orchestra at its entrance, while a spotlight on a pair of flutes added a light, fun sensibility to the
movement. Later, the brass and string sections produced a wonderful set of dynamics in an exchange in which the brass
players held their final note, letting it recede with decaying volume under the response of the strings.
The second movement featured lush dreamscapes and light, serious, fun and dark moments, while the magical third
movement had a joyous vitality to it. This came out, particularly, in the interplay of the entire orchestra, from the
passing of the main melody from section to section to the rhythmic support provided by the cellists tapping their bows
against their strings.
The fourth movement featured a frantic escalation of volume and tonal counterpoints, punctuated by the crash of
cymbals as Yeh and the orchestra built to the symphony's abrupt but exhilarating ending.
Alfvn's Swedish Rhapsody opened the second half of the concert. The orchestra's performance made it a playful
dance, with the winds and French horns in the spotlight, although a slow interlude featured the strings playing with a
lush, romantic feeling that set the stage for a gorgeous but brief French horn solo before the full orchestra roared back
out at full strength for the piece's lively conclusion.
As brilliant as the orchestra sounded on the Sibelius and Alfvn pieces, however, Wang's and the orchestra's
performance of the Grieg concerto eclipsed both of those performances.
Wang jumped right into the piece, attacking the keys with power for her opening cadenza, but moments later, she
played with grace and elegance in her next extended section. As the tempo increased in the middle of the first
movement, Wang's fingers flew over the keyboard with force and a frantic emotionalism that made it more than a
display of dazzling technique. At other times, her deft sense of touch produced achingly delicate, reflective passages,
and that was just in the first movement, which ended with an unusual in-piece round of applause from the audience.

Yuja Wang
Chicago Tribune April 11, 2005
page 2 of 2
The orchestra's string sections worked in tandem with Wang during the second movement, with the strings playing in
with a grandeur that supported the somber nature of the piano's part in the movement. In particular, the plucked notes
of the bass section added depth and a sense of forward movement to a brief chordal passage on the piano.
Wang's vivacious performance of the concerto's dance section was fun and joyful, and the orchestra responded with
energetic playing.
Her performance left no doubt that Wang, still a teenager and a student at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia,
will one day be a major star in the classical music field. South Bend and its orchestra should feel blessed to have seen
her here now.

Yuja Wang
The Philadelphia Inquirer March 11, 2005

Yuja Wang, with China group, captivates


BY PETER DOBRIN

Orchestras have funny little traditions, and one of them is that when they visit each others' cities, the host-town
ensemble leaves a cake backstage for the visiting team. Bakers for the Philadelphia Orchestra have been busier than
ever in the last few years, what with the Kimmel Center's seriously interesting visiting orchestra series.
It's probably the most important artistic development in decades that one can hear, locally, the orchestras of Vienna,
Berlin and Cleveland - those gold-standard ensembles. But just as valuable are groups that, if not mentioned in the
same breath as the world's most vaunted orchestras, are fascinating for other reasons.
Wednesday night the China Philharmonic Orchestra rolled into town with its precise, sometimes too-straitlaced,
approach; tonight, answers to questions we haven't yet thought of will be provided by the Oslo Philharmonic led by
Andr Previn.
The China group was not on the subscription roster when the Kimmel announced its season a year ago, but rather was a
late signing, which might explain a smallish (yet demonstrative) audience. The group is young, founded in 2000 with
conductor Long Yu, and its members look only slightly older.
The orchestra is touring the United States with Lang Lang, which is a problem in a lot of cities, including Philadelphia,
where the pianist was already booked this season. Orchestras get nervous that the same soloist visiting twice will eat
into ticket sales.
But the solution, in the form of Yuja Wang, was a wonderful one. The Beijing-born Wang, 18, a student at the
Curtis Institute of Music, took on Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Wang is a stylish player,
and that she was able to infuse as much personality into a work as orchestra-heavy as this one was no mean feat.
She has a polished, crystalline sound. Her expressive philosophy is nothing flamboyant, but captivating
nonetheless.
The orchestra opened by Rimsky's Overture to the Tsar's Bride, and Moon Reflected on the Erquan Fountain by Hua
Yanjun, a folkloric piece that once caught the attention of Eugene Ormandy.
But it was Schoenberg's orchestration of Brahms' Piano Quartet in G Minor that fully revealed the orchestra and
conductor Long Yu. The piece's famously flowing 15-note opening was laid out in perfect precision, but with none of
the expressive manipulations other conductors bring. It was oddly dispassionate. Other phrases, too, were so devoid of
expression they arrived as emotionless as marches.
Anti-sentimentalists? No. In other spots, conductor and orchestra tested the limits of expressiveness. Stylistically,
there's nothing non-Western about the orchestra's sound. They pushed an astonishing amount of sound into the hall,
which, though there was little in their tone that was luxurious or refined, was a convincing expression of emotion in
itself.

YUJA WANG
Le Droit (Ottawa) February 15, 2005

The new generation has arrived


BY JEAN-JACQUES VAN VLASSELAER

Because of sickness, the great pianist Radu Lupu had to cancel, already several weeks ago, his North-American
tour including this all-Beethoven concert: a two-part program in partnership with Pinchas Zukerman in the Sonata
No. 3 for violin and piano and as soloist in Concerto No. 4. In his place, we heard Yuja Wang. Too quickly,
everyone compares her with her countryman, Lang Lang. This is a profound mistake. Lang Lang, as gifted as he
is, is becoming more and more a technical firebrand; Yuja Wang is a musician. The former proposes a show of
fingers; the second delivers a work with all of its poetry. This doesn't mean to say that this young girl of 18 years
doesn't have the virtuosity of the former; beyond that, she builds it (the virtuosity) on flexible musical lines.
Fluent playing, transparent articulation, a silvery touch without removing the solid character from the works of
Beethoven, she presented these for the listening pleasure of the public.
Already, during the Third Sonata, we perceived a piano very independent, outspoken and energetic, working
together with a violin at first concise (allegro con spirito) then lofty (adagio) and fleeting (rondo) of Zukerman in
a spirit both unified and natural. The concerto confirmed all these qualities: she imprinted a lyric character on the
allegro moderato and a marvelous liveliness, balancing the classic and the romantic in the piano by a twin
delicacy of touch and softness of color, rather than highlighting the seriousness or the theatrical side........a star is
born.

Yuja Wang
The New Yorker January 14, 2005

The Rest is Noise


BY ALEX ROSS

I wrote recently that NJPAC, the New Jersey Symphony's home, is the second-loveliest concert hall in the New York
area. I forgot to mention, as I remembered tonight, that the walk from Newark Penn Station to NJPAC takes you along
the second-ugliest stretch of road in the New York area, next to whatever Godforsaken route appears in the Sopranos
credits. You can, in fact, ride little buses to and fro, in order to avoid the feeling that you're about to be hauled into a
van and taken for a long drive in the woods. But the hellish walk somehow adds to the pleasure of the place itself. The
program, under the direction of the striking young Estonian conductor Anu Tali, consisted of Niels Gade's Hamlet
Overture, Grieg's Piano Concerto, and Sibelius' Fifth. I'll save the Sibelius for an upcoming New Yorker column and
comment briefly on the Grieg. Yujia Wang was the soloist; I knew her from Leon Fleisher's Carnegie Hall workshops,
which I wrote about last year. Then, I was gripped by her playing, though I felt she hadn't fully grasped Schubert's
language. She has certainly mastered Grieg's. She gets a huge sound out of the piano, which isn't surprising from a
well-traveled young prodigy. What's more impressive is that she plays in big paragraphs, shows a powerful grasp of
structure, brings delicate fantasy to lyric passages. She is only seventeen years old, which amazes me most of all; I
assumed she was in her twenties when I heard her last year. She is a remarkable talent with miles of room to grow. She
plays NJPAC again on Saturday.