Yuja Brings Technical Virtuosity and Sophisticated Musicality to Stravinsky, Scarlatti, Brahms and Ravel
“She seems to have everything: speed, flexibility, pianistic thunder and interpretive nuance.” – The New York Times
Though only 23 years old, Chinese pianist Yuja Wang has already begun to attract attention around the world for her blazing technique and mature interpretations. Her debut recording, Sonatas & Etudes, was nominated for a Grammy and she returns with an all-new recital – Transformation – which categorically demonstrates that she is a young master of the Steinway. The recital will be available April 13, 2010 from Deutsche Grammophon and Yuja will appear throughout North America in a variety of recital and concert performances.
The art of planning a recital is always a unique and personal experience for every artist. While she understands the impressive quality of virtuosic music (and can certainly dispatch towering chords and lightening quick runs), Yuja prefers to present herself as a serious musician and enjoys lyrical, big, romantic pieces the most. For this recital, transcription emerges as the unifying theme. This idea of taking a work written for a different instrument or the entire symphony orchestra, and re-working it for the piano fits with Yuja’s views on the instrument itself: the piano is “just the instrument that could do whatever I want to do with music. I love music. It is what interests me. It is what intrigues me.”
For this recital Yuja begins with Stravinsky’s own adaptation of three movements from his ballet, Petrushka. Rather than simply transcribe the orchestral version, Stravinsky sought to compose purely pianistic music. The finished score, some of the most difficult in the solo piano’s repertoire, was written for Arthur Rubinstein and gives the pianist ample opportunities to showcase outstanding technical talent. Ravel also transcribed his own orchestral work for solo piano, but without the overt purpose of providing a showpiece. His remarkable re-interpretation of the Viennese waltz is an orchestral work of immense instrumental color and ambience – something which Yuja evokes by reflecting Ravel’s orchestral score through the prism of the piano.
The Brahms Variations on a Theme of Paganini is a similarly technically difficult, but emotionally rich, score allowing Yuja to demonstrate many aspects of her playing. The work plainly and simply presents the theme (that of Paganini’s famous Caprice No. 24 in A minor for solo violin) and then proceeds to present 26 variations of varying difficultly and character. Yuja follows the sequence of variations as ordered by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, a pianist she greatly admires.
With the rainbows of color and thundering technique needed for Stravinsky, Brahms and Ravel, the two Scarlatti sonatas provide briefly cleansing respites. Though not without technical challenges (the pianist must always remain alert and attentive to even the smallest details), these works allow the listener short chances to prepare for the next musical storm as conjured by Yuja.
Born in Beijing in 1987, Yuja began studying piano at age six, with her earliest public performances taking place in China, Australia and Germany, and went on to study at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing under Ling Yuan and Zhou Guangren. Following three years, from 1999 to 2001, at the Morningside Music summer program at Calgary’s Mount Royal College, an artistic and cultural exchange program between Canada and China, Yuja moved to Canada and began studying with Hung Kuan Chen and Tema Blackstone at the Mount Royal College Conservatory. In 2002, when Yuja was 15, she won Aspen Music Festival’s concerto competition and moved to the U.S. to study with Gary Graffman at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she graduated in 2008. In 2006 Yuja received the Gilmore Young Artist Award.
4/16-18/2010 Bartok: Concerto no. 2 Miami, FL
4/20/2010 Recital Costa Mesa, CA
4/22/2010 Recital San Francisco, CA
4/23/2010 Recital Santa Barbara, CA
4/25/2010 Recital Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
4/29/2010 Recital Philadelphia, PA
5/15/2010 Recital Detroit, MI
5/22/2010 Recital Washington DC
6/17/2010 Ravel & Stravinsky San Francisco, CA
6/18/2010 Ravel & Stravinsky Los Angeles, CA
6/19/2010 Ravel & Stravinsky San Francisco, CA