Pianist Yuja Wang plays to a sold-out Lincoln Center

Updated: 2014-03-20 12:06

By Amy He in New York (China Daily USA)

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Pianist Yuja Wang plays to a sold-out Lincoln Center

Yuja Wang at a press event Wednesday after performing to a sold-out crowd in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center on Monday. Wang will be performing in Boston at the end of March before heading to Europe for the remainder of her 2013-2014 tour. Amy He / China Daily Pianist

The colorful cover of pianist Yuja Wang's latest album belies the difficulty of the pieces she recorded for the CD: Sergei Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 3, often called one of the most technically difficult pieces of music.

Wang played the piece to a sold-out audience at the Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York on Monday, one of her last US stops before heading to Europe to continue her 2013-2014 tour. The 27-year-old performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.

Beijing-born Wang said at a press event on Wednesday that the Rachmaninov piece is "exhausting", but the concerto is one she has been listening to since she was 12, so it is fun to perform her own rendition.

"One of the first CDs I possessed was [Vladimir] Horowitz playing the piece with the New York Philharmonic and I just really loved it," she said. "Of course, it's technically hard and it's an exhausting 45-minute piece, but it's like wave after wave of passion until the end."

Wang likened playing Rachmaninov's piece to "telling a Russian story", a very different experience than performing Sergei Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No 2, the other concerto on her album released in October.

"It's different from the Prokofiev 2, which is very explosive and very dark, almost like rock 'n' roll. It's very concise in the structure and all the notes are condensed into 22 minutes," Wang said. "The way the Rachmaninov works is that it's very poignant and interwoven. There are lots of different episodes but they're all connected in a subtle way."

Working with Venezuelan conductor Dudamel, Wang's Rachmaninov, Piano Concerto No 3 & Prokofiev, Piano Concerto No 2 were recorded live in Caracas in February and the performances marked the first time the two have recorded together. The Simn Bolvar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela accompanied Wang, the orchestra's first time with a soloist.

"Yuja has a wonderful quality in that she listens to us all the time. We connect as if we were playing chamber music," Dudamel said in a statement.

"Previously the orchestra has always recorded symphonic music. Yuja is very young and very talentedtogether we are all building a new generation of musicians and audiences," he added.

Wang began playing piano at the age of 6 and later studied at Beijing's Central Conservatory. She eventually joined Calgary's Mount Royal College and won its concerto competition and later graduated from the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia in 2008.

She made her recital debut at New York's Carnegie Hall in 2011 and debuted in Tokyo's Suntory Hall during her Japanese tour last year. Wang said that although she has not had a chance to tour extensively in China, there is growing interest from Asia and she has plans to perform there soon.

"Curiosity in Asia is very strong," she said. Last year, she played sold-out shows in Beijing, Taipei, Hong Kong and other Asian cities.

Wang is signed under Deutsche Grammophon, part of Universal Music Group. Her next album comes out in April.


(China Daily USA 03/20/2014 page2)