Yuja Wang Concert Review

Yuja Wang concert

I love the San Francisco Symphony! and I attend concerts there frequently…

The first half of the concert on Sunday, June 17th, was somewhat of a disappointment: Yes, the Pavane Op. 50 by Gabriel Faure is a beautiful piece, but it seemed to me that the first Flute was not quite ready, and Faure’s lovely melody was not played in the smooth, delightful manner that was required.

Similarly, the Symphony #3 by Jean Sibelius painted some of Finland’s cold Nature, but the piece never reached any exciting climaxes that connected with me.

That all changed after intermission: From the moment that Yuja Wang appeared on stage with her flaming red dress, and her rapid steps toward the piano, electricity was in the air. And her performance of Sergei Rachmaninov’s Piano Concert #3, Opus 30 was a totally wonderful experience.

One amazing thing for me was the insight into how small the world was even back in 1909 when the concerto was written: It occurred to me how different the music of Rachmaninov is from the somber, serious, sardonic sounds in the compositions of Gustav Mahler. Yet… when this concerto was first performed in New York in 1909, Mr. Rachmaninov was the piano soloist, and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra was conducted by its Music Director at the time, whose name was Gustav Mahler! Mahler was already very ill at that time; he died in Vienna two years later.

The performance on Sunday was outstanding. Ms. Wang is an accomplished artist with a terrific feeling for creating drama in music. Mr. Thomas provided terrific orchestral support by having the orchestra fade into the background at the appropriate time, yet bring out the winds, the lush strings, or the horns to support this beautiful, romantic music.

Yuja Wang’s candenzas were gorgeous. They were flawlessly played and soon allowed the orchestra to return with some more of Rachmaninov’s melodies. Yea… I love this music…

And… there was an encore: Wonderful display of pianistic pyrotechnics, which I think was titled “Carmen Fantasy”, composed by Vladimir Horowitz. I could be wrong here, so feel free to correct me in the comment space, below.

I could not locate a video of the Rachmaninov 3rd, so here’s the Second concerto with Ms. Wang:





Here is a recoding of thePiano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30 with Sergei Rachmaninov, piano, and the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy


Tags: Concert review, San Francisco Symphony, June 17, 2012, Rachmaninov, Piano Concerto #3, Yuja Wang, Michael Tilson Thomas


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