Yuja Wang's debut CD, "Sonatas & Etudes": The more you listen to it the more stunning her performance becomes; these amazing pieces become absolutely breath-taking. - Interchanging Idioms
Pianist Yuja Wang's highly anticipated second solo recital recording, Transformation, will be released by Deutsche Grammophon on Tuesday, April 13, 2010. The album comprises three movements from Pétrouchka by Stravinsky; Scarlatti's Sonata in E major K. 380, Andante comodo and Sonata in F minor/C major K. 466, Andante moderato; Brahms's Variations on a Theme by Paganini op. 35, Books I & II; and Maurice Ravel's La Valse. The album follows Yuja's critically acclaimed debut recording, Sonatas & Etudes, which was nominated for a Grammy® Award in the Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without Orchestra) category and named Best Debut Album of 2009 by International Piano magazine.
For her second recital album Yuja chose a program of piano transcriptions of works written for either a different instrument or for symphony orchestra. This idea of taking a work and re-working it for the piano fits with Yuja's musical ideals: "For me, conveying the music through the piano is more important than the instrument itself. The music is what interests and intrigues me."
The concept of the album is further explained in the recording's liner notes by Michael Church: "Yuja Wang's title for her recording reflects the Buddhist idea that life consists of constant change, and she finds its musical rationale in Brahms transforming his theme 27 times, Ravel transforming the waltz by testing it to destruction, and Stravinsky's puppet Petrushka being temporarily transformed into a human being before finally reverting to puppethood."
Transformation opens with Stravinsky's own adaptation of three movements from his ballet, Pétrouchka. 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 repertoire, was written for Arthur Rubinstein and gives the pianist ample opportunities to showcase technical virtuosity. Ravel also transcribed his own orchestral work La Valse for solo piano, but without the overt purpose of providing a technical showpiece. His re-interpretation of the Viennese waltz for piano is a work of immense instrumental color and ambience. The Brahms Variations on a Theme of Paganini is a similarly technically difficult, but emotionally rich, score allowing the pianist to demonstrate many aspects of playing. The work presents a simple theme (that of Paganini's famous Caprice No. 24 in A minor for solo violin) and then proceeds to present variations of that theme, varying in difficultly and character. Yuja follows the sequence of variations by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, a pianist she greatly admires. Between the larger dramatic works, Yuja presents two Scarlatti one-movement sonatas. Though not without technical challenges, these works are two of the Scarlatti's most sweetly expressive sonatas.