Caracas, February 2013. The Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, now the international flagship of Venezuela's transformative network of music schools and youth orchestras known as El Sistema, has assembled in the concert hall of its Centro de Acción Social por la Música. Here Yuja Wang, the young Chinese virtuoso, has taken on a challenge substantial enough to make any pianist flinch. She is performing in one concert two of the most demanding piano concertos in the repertoire: Prokofiev's second and Rachmaninov's third.
On the podium is Venezuela's dynamic superstar conductor Gustavo Dudamel; and the orchestra, made up of young players mainly in their 20s, is ready to respond with all their habitual vitality, in one of the concerts that are celebrating the 38th anniversary of El Sistema's founding.
Making her first visit to Caracas, Wang declares herself enchanted by the place and the people. "It's so adorable, lovable and warm – and I don't just mean the weather", she says. "Everything feels very spontaneous and that totally fits with my temperament." She and Dudamel, well aware of each other as musicians before they ever met, had hoped to work together some day; and according to Dudamel the opportunity arrived sooner than expected. "It came about as if by magic", he declares. "Our schedules looked really full – but I was in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Bowl and they said, ‘We have a soloist you might be interested in...’" And so, in summer 2012, Dudamel conducted Wang in Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No.1. "Now, just a few months later, here she is, working with us in Caracas."
Prokofiev's Second Piano Concerto is less popular than his third, which presents perhaps a greater challenge to the soloist, particularly in the long and ferociously complex first-movement cadenza. This highly concentrated, four-movement work occupies a dark sphere in its composer's psyche: Prokofiev wrote it in 1912-1913 in memory of a friend from the St Petersburg Conservatory, Maximilian Schmidthof, who had taken his own life. The original score was destroyed in a fire after the Russian Revolution of 1917: Prokofiev subsequently redrafted it, and gave the new version's première himself in 1924. "It's very powerful emotionally,” says Wang. "The piece is really demanding for both me and the orchestra. But I love playing it because there's so much character and so much colour. There are qualities that are unique to this concerto: sinister, sarcastic, abstract ideas that can come off only when we're playing absolutely together." Dudamel adds: "For us, it's also a big technical challenge – and it's an amazing piece, very compact and very well constructed".
Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No.3 is the longest, most ambitious and most notoriously complex in technical terms of his works for piano and orchestra. It was written just three years before the Prokofiev concerto, in 1909, yet its romanticism seems to breathe the air of the 19th century rather than the 20th, to which Prokofiev's so evidently belongs. "This of course is one of the most famous of all piano concertos", says Dudamel, "and the important thing is to have a soloist who really connects with the orchestra. It can sometimes be a piece in which the pianist feels inspired in the moment, does his or her own thing and the orchestra has to follow – but Yuja has a wonderful quality in that she listens to us all the time. We connect as if we were playing chamber music".
Wang's accounts of the work around the world have been praised in no uncertain terms, with the San Francisco Chronicle, for one, noting "the depth and imagination she brought to the entire score, and the way she made the piece's virtuosic angle just one part of its purpose".
The pianist herself remarks that one of this concerto's greatest challenges for the soloist is how to maintain the narrative line across the music's substantial span. "It's a long story, very Russian", she says, "and full of every kind of emotion. It's been recorded many times, but I'm happy that this recording captures the energy levels of our live performance. I think it's a little explosive, but controlled and very communicative".
Wang first heard the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, New York, a few years ago, and she recalls being bowled over by the energy, enthusiasm and power of its young players. "I think it was the most exciting concert I've been to", she says. "It made people feel like they're living in another world. And that's what music should do to people, it's the essence of music."
Working with them did not disappoint: "They are all around my own age, which doesn't happen often, and what has really struck me is how responsive they are. In the rehearsals I found that if I asked them to do something in the music, they'd not only do it at once, but they'd do it about a thousand times better than I'd imagined. I could have gone on rehearsing for hours and hours because I was having so much fun".
Dudamel feels that this is a landmark recording for the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra: "It is the first album we've recorded with a soloist", he says, "and that's something important, because previously the orchestra has always recorded symphonic music – Mahler, Beethoven, Stravinsky... We were waiting to record with a soloist who could connect with us in this way. Yuja is very young and very talented, we're of the same generation and together we are all building a new generation of musicians and audiences. It's great that we are recording with her in Simón Bolívar Hall in our centre here in Caracas".
Source: Jessica Duchen (CD Booklet)
Η διάσημη Κινέζα πιανίστρια Γιούτζα Ουάνγκ ερμηνεύει το Κοντσέρτο για πιάνο αρ. 3 σε Ρε ελάσσονα, έργο 30, του Σεργκέι Ραχμάνινοφ, και το Κοντσέρτο για πιάνο αρ. 2 σε Σολ ελάσσονα, έργο 16, του Σεργκέι Προκόφιεφ. Τη Συμφωνική Ορχήστρα Σιμόν Μπολιβάρ της Βενεζουέλας διευθύνει ο σπουδαίος Βενεζουελανός αρχιμουσικός Γκουστάβο Ντουνταμέλ. Η ζωντανή ηχογράφηση έγινε στην Αίθουσα «Σιμόν Μπολιβάρ» στο Εθνικό Κέντρο Κοινωνικής Δράσης μέσω της Μουσικής (Centro de Acción Social por la Música) στο Καράκας της Βενεζουέλας, τον Φεβρουάριο του 2013.
Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
♪ Piano Concerto No.3 in D minor, Op.30 (1909)
i. Allegro ma non tanto
ii. Intermezzo. Adagio
iii. Finale. Alla breve
Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)
♪ Piano Concerto No.2 in G minor, Op.16 (1912-1913)
i. Andantino – Allegretto
ii. Scherzo. Vivace
iii. Intermezzo. Allegro moderato
iv. Finale. Allegro tempestoso
Yuja Wang, piano
Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela
Conductor: Gustavo Dudamel
Live Recording: Sala Simón Bolívar, Centro de Acción Social por la Música, Caracas, February 2013
Deutsche Grammophon 2013
(HD 1080p – Audio video)
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(Size: 1.27 GB – 96kHz/24bit)
|Photo by Nohely Oliveros|
Deutsche Grammophon's dramatic pairing of Sergei Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No.3 in D minor with Sergei Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No.2 in G minor makes this CD a brilliant showcase for pianist Yuja Wang and maestro Gustavo Dudamel, two of the biggest sensations on the label. Wang previously released Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and the Piano Concerto No.2 with Claudio Abbado conducting the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, an ensemble that seemed nearly ideal for accompanying her delicate and often intimate style of playing. However, the usually robust sound of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela is reined in somewhat on this recording of the Third, if not to be more subdued for Wang's playing, then perhaps to control the effect of Rachmaninov's thick orchestral writing. For whatever reason, Wang's playing is clear and generally well-balanced in the audio mix, though there is some artificial boosting of the volume. In terms of clarity and orchestral density, the Prokofiev Second is a different matter entirely, for the solo part is always audible, and the accompaniment is, for the most part, quite transparent. Wang is shown to better advantage here, and Dudamel has more options to work with, so this exciting performance really deserves top billing, despite the overwhelming popularity of the Rachmaninov work.
Source: Blair Sanderson (allmusic.com)
|Photo by Leila Méndez|
By the time Yuja graduated from the Curtis Institute in May 2008, she had already gathered momentum following the spectacular success of her debut three years earlier with the National Arts Center Orchestra in Ottawa. Wang attracted widespread international attention in March 2007 when she replaced Martha Argerich on short notice in performances of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No.1 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and within the span of just a few seasons she was working with conductors of the highest calibre. Over the past ten years of her career, she has worked with such pre-eminent Maestros as Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Valery Gergiev, Michael Tilson Thomas, Antonio Pappano, Charles Dutoit, and Zubin Mehta.
In January 2009 Yuja Wang became an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon recording artist. Her debut album, Sonatas & Etudes, prompted Gramophone to name her as its 2009 Young Artist of the Year. Her 2011 release of Rachmaninov's Second Concerto and Paganini Rhapsody with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Claudio Abbado was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo category. Subsequent releases for the yellow label include Fantasia, an album of encore pieces by Albéniz, Bach, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Saint-Saëns, Scriabin, and others; a live recording of Prokofiev's Concertos Nos. 2 and 3 with Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, and an acclaimed coupling of Ravel's two piano concertos with Fauré's Ballade, recorded with the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich and Lionel Bringuier. Reviewers around the world have documented the full range of Wang's work, capturing the essence of her musicianship and observing the development of an artist blessed with consummate technical prowess, an inexhaustible creative imagination, and an unmatched stamina.
She was recently described by the New York Times as "one of the best young pianists around" and hailed by the Sydney Morning Herald for her "blistering technique". In July 2015 the Los Angeles Times declared: "Hers is a nonchalant, brilliant keyboard virtuosity that would have made both Prokofiev (who was a great pianist) and even the fabled Horowitz jealous". The combination of critical acclaim, audience ovations, return engagements at leading international venues, and an exclusive recording relationship with Deutsche Grammophon confirm the 29-year old pianist's status as one of this century's most compelling artists.
The international reach and artistic breadth of Yuja Wang's 2016-2017 schedule reflects the strong demand for her work. She unveils her new season in the summer of 2016 with a run of recitals, chamber concerts and concerto performances at the Salzburg, Wolftrap, Tanglewood, Verbier and Baltic Sea festivals including collaborations with Matthias Goerne, Leonidas Kavakos, Lionel Bringuier, Gustavo Gimeno and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Following her initial NCPA residency concerts, Wang embarks on an extensive recital tour of China and Japan in September before traveling to the United States to open the Philadelphia Orchestra's season with three performances of Chopin's Piano Concerto No.2 in partnership with Yannick-Nézet-Séguin.
Yuja's way of making music connects with a strikingly broad audience. It appeals to everyone, from newcomers to the concert hall to devoted pianophiles, and has attracted an exceptionally youthful following. Her love for fashion, recently recognised by her induction into Giorgio Armani's Sì Women's Circle, has also contributed to the popular appeal of an artist who is armed with the ability to challenge convention and win fresh converts to classical music. She is set to broaden her audience throughout the 2016-2017 season, not least through her term as Artist-in-Residence at China's National Centre for the Performing Arts as well as the Konserthuset in Stockholm. The Beijing-born pianist returns to her home city in August for the first of six specially curated concerts at the NCPA, where she will explore programmes of Romantic and 20th-century repertoire in solo, chamber, and orchestral concerts. Her time in Stockholm will be filled by chamber music with Leonidas Kavakos, Bartok with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and Maestro Sakari Oramo as well as a recital programme.
Other bold highlights of Yuja Wang's 2016-2017 season include a nine-concert Asian tour with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Michael Tilson Thomas; performances of Ravel's Piano Concerto in G with the London Symphony Orchestra and Gianandrea Noseda at New York's Lincoln Center and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and an extensive spring tour of Europe with the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Antonio Pappano. In December she joins forces with percussionist Martin Grubinger for concerts in Vienna, Munich, Zurich, and Tel Aviv, and marks the new year with extensive recital tours of Europe and the United States with violinist Leonidas Kavakos. Wang will also undertake a major solo European recital tour in March and April, complete with concerts in Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, Vienna and London, and many other cities.
Over the next season's course, Yuja will explore everything from chamber works by Beethoven and Brahms to concertos by Chopin and Shostakovich. Her profound affinity for Bartók falls under the spotlight when she explores each of the composer's three piano concertos, with performances of individual works in Beijing, Cleveland, Dallas, Guangzhou, Stockholm, Taiwan and Toronto, and of the complete set with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and Gustavo Dudamel over two consecutive weeks in May and June.
Watch the trailer / Δείτε το trailer (2013, HD 1080p)
Watch the trailer for Yuja Wang's new album with Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. The album contains Rachmaninov's Piano concerto No.3 and Prokofiev's Piano concerto No.2 and is released on Deutsche Grammophon.
The album captures the extraordinary energy levels of a very special evening in Caracas. Rachmaninov's hugely popular Piano Concerto No.3 is his longest, most ambitious and most technically complex work for piano and orchestra. Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No.2 is phenomenally emotional and intense music that also presents huge technical challenges for the soloist – particularly in the long and ferociously complex first movement cadenza.
|Photo by Harald Hoffmann|
|Photo by Nohely Oliveros|
|Photo by Nohely Oliveros|
Frédéric Chopin: 24 Préludes, Op.28 – Yuja Wang (HD 1080p)
Béla Bartók: Piano Concerto No.1 in A major – Yuja Wang, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Esa-Pekka Salonen
George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue – Yuja Wang, Camerata Salzburg, Lionel Bringuier
George Gershwin: Piano Concerto in F major | Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.5 in D minor – Yuja Wang, London Symphony Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas
Sergei Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.2 in C minor – Yuja Wang, Verbier Festival Orchestra, Yuri Termikanov (HD 1080p)
Yuja Wang and the Art of Performance
Maurice Ravel: Piano Concertos – Yuja Wang, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Lionel Bringuier (Audio video)
Sergei Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.2 in G minor – Yuja Wang, Berliner Philharmoniker, Paavo Järvi
Yuja Wang plays Robert Schumann, Maurice Ravel and Ludwig van Beethoven at Verbier Festival 2016
Yuja Wang, the pianist who will not go quietly
Sergei Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.3 in C major – Yuja Wang, Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Claudio Abbado
Leonidas Kavakos, violin & Yuja Wang, piano
Johannes Brahms: The Violin Sonatas – Leonidas Kavakos, Yuja Wang (Audio video)
Johannes Brahms: Sonata for piano and violin No.2 in A major – Yuja Wang, Leonidas Kavakos
Maurice Ravel: Sonata for violin and piano No.1 in A minor – Leonidas Kavakos, Yuja Wang
Ottorino Respighi: Violin Sonata in B minor – Leonidas Kavakos, Yuja Wang