From the Vault Dept.: Pianist Yuja Wang has out a new album sporting Ravel’s two concertos and the Ballade by Fauré, and its cover photo inspired a snotty lede from David Hurwitz in his ClassicsToday review. To remorsefully self-aggrandize for a moment, one of my own earliest concert reviews included a similarly snotty crack about a performer’s outfit; my comment about his dressing up earned me a deserved dressing down, and I’ve since tried to focus on the performance itself, as in the review below.
DURING A FRENZIED MOMENT in the opening of Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No. 6, the manuscript is marked, over a dense chord, “col pugno
.” When she reached it, pianist Yuja Wang curled her fingers into a fist and skillfully smacked the keys, the percussive surprise of the moment executed with an inspiring combination of precision and charm
We’re so accustomed to the proficiency level of the top-flight pianists who live in or pass through this area that when an exceptional talent like this one appears, it takes a moment to register that something even more extraordinary than usual is happening on stage.
Yuja Wang is a 24-year-old enjoying a phenomenal career, having already appeared with many major orchestras, in many cases as a last-minute replacement. She made a splash three years ago in concerts at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Saturday’s solo recital at Albany’s Massry Center should only add to her legend.
The big piece was Liszt’s Sonata in B Minor, a four-movement but nonstop work that opens with some ominous octaves that, in Wang’s hands, suggested the sweep with which Horowitz took on the piece. But what most energizes her approach is a control over the dynamics that shades the textures with a more colorful palette than I’m used to hearing.