This scintillating recital is Chinese pianist Yuja Wang’s second recording for DG and marks her as one of the most exciting young performers today. She has chosen her program according to her own concept of “transformations”.
For instance, Stravinsky’s Three Movements from Petrouchka traces the transformation of puppet to human and back. The Brahms piece, Variations on a Theme by Paganini is bound up in thematic transformations of one of music’s most famous themes. The Scarlatti sonatas (K 380 and K 466) are oases of quiet in an often tempestuous program. A mighty tempest closes this recital – Ravel’s La Valse, which can be viewed as a transformation of this dance-form. This 1920s piece was written for the Ballets Russes but was rejected. Composer George Benjamin summed it up perfectly when he described La Valse as tracing “the birth, decay and destruction of a musical genre: the waltz”.
The DG engineers have close-miked the Steinway used in these sessions but the result is not over-analytical. In fact, the sound is as if we’ve been given a seat right in front of the piano. Yuja Wang
is reminiscent of the incendiary Martha Argerich. There is abundant virtuosity on display but it never comes over as flamboyancy.
There is zest here, but with close attention to the quietest details.