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Fantasia

4.4 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 10, 2012
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$12.29 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details Only 14 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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"Every new release by this marvelously gifted pianist is eagerly anticipated ... " -- Gramophone
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Product Details

  • Performer: Yuja Wang
  • Composer: Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninov, Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti, Christoph Willibald Ritter von Gluck, Giovanni Sgambati, Isaac Manuel Francisco Albéniz, et al.
  • Audio CD (April 10, 2012)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B006WXW098
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,662 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
This is a surprisingly successful album, since hearing eighteen encores filling up 68 in. of miniatures isn't necessarily enticing. For a virtuoso with Yuja Wang's exceptional technique, even among her kind, an encore is almost always a dazzler, a finger-crunching display first and music second. For those reasons, I've only owned two encore records over the years, one from Horowitz (bought in college so that I could hear his rendition of Stars and Stripes Forever), the other from Arkadi Volodos, so that I could hear how closely he resembled Horowitz. May I suggest that Wang outdoes both? She plays without vulgar showmanship, and when she steps into Horowitz's home territory - playing his famous arrangement of themes from Bizet's Carmen (also included on Volodos's debut CD) - there's no aggression of the kind that gets audiences to leap to their feet. She almost never uses her fingers like hammers.

Wang realizes that we aren't hearing true encores, because we aren't at a concert fired up by the main event. We're coming to this CD cold. Therefore, she adapts these pieces into real music, experiences of her artistry more than her prowess. You can sit through the cascade of notes in Liszt's arrangement of Schubert's Gretchen am Spinnrade because the fireworks are secondary to Wang's sensitive rendering of the song itself. Some of these showpieces are closer to what Sir Thomas Beecham called "derangements" than arrangements, as for example the two longest works, Dukas' Sorcerer's Apprentice and Saint-Saens' Danse macabre, and memories of Horowitz and Cziffra, who were incendiary in their approach, aren't erased. But Wang's subtler methods never induce a headache or cloying satiation.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This CD belongs in the collection of every pianophile. It is wonderful. In fact, it is just short of being great. Decades ago pianists would record albums like this one, comprised of a variety of works with no particular theme except enjoyment. Recent times have seen an emphasis on completeness, i.e., the complete sonatas or the complete etudes, etc. of a given composer. Now we have a disc that is devoted to the pleasure of music and the fun of a powerful virtuoso.
The program is extremely attractive, offering familiar works with tasty rarities. For the most part, Ms. Wang is quite successful in her performances, but she is outdone by a couple of the works as noted below.
Perhaps the most enticing item on her program is the Victor Staub transcription of Dukas' Sorcerer's Apprentice. Ms. Wang has made some alterations to the score to fit her hands. Her performance is spectacular, easily outshining most orchestral performances. She plays this with marvelous virtuosity and musicianship. Now someone needs to record the Sandor transcription.
Her performance of Chopin's Waltz, Op. 64, No.2 is one of the absolute finest I have ever heard, reminiscent of the glorious recording made by Rosenthal. The Rachmaninoff pieces are impressive, especially the Elegy, Op.3, No.1. The Scriabin works are also given fine performances.
Ms. Wang provides a passionate reading of the Schubert/Liszt Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel, and she does a great job with Cziffra's flashy transcription of the Tritsch-Tratsch Polka. Speaking of trash, she also does a fine job with the trashy arrangements by Horowitz, who vulgarized the Bizet and Saint-Saens transcriptions done far better by Moszkowski and Liszt.
Curiously, Ms. Wang is totally lost with the Gluck/Sgambati Melodie.
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7 Comments 28 of 33 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Audio CD
We are at the cusp of transition from one generation of pianists to another, but a name stands out as exception to clear distinction between grand old musicians and brilliant young talent. Yuja Wang doesn't fit into those (arbitrary) boxes.

At only 25, Yuja (her own preference for second reference) is an old soul, and seemingly in the vanguard for a long, long time. In fact, it's been a dozen years - half her life - that she's been winning international contests and hearts around the world, plus engagements with major orchestras, so she is neither a newcomer nor a member of the <em>ancien régime</em>. She is what she is, one of the finest pianists - and, importantly, musicians - of our time.

And she has now produced her fourth Deutsche Grammophon CD, "Fantasia," which follows [...]"Sonatas & Etudes"</a> (2009), [...]"Transformation</em>" (2010), and [...]"Rachmaninov"</a> (2011).

It is a varied, capricious, collection of miniatures, just a few minutes each, the longest being a 10-minute tribute to Mickey Mouse - quite a change since the large-scale collection of "Transformation."

Almost all tracks come from Yuja's large storehouse of encores; she needs many because her recital audiences unvariably demand - and almost always - receive them.

Four brief Rachmaninov [not Rachmaninoff, according to this album] pieces lead the way, played with unshowy brilliance, power, and her usual complete authority over the keyboard. The stormy Étude-tableau in A minor Op. 39 No. 6 is a grand calling card; Op. 39 No. 4 is swift, playful; Op. 39 No. 5 has a quiet, but persistent romantic sweep.

Élégie in E flat minor Op. 3 No. 1, wisely slipped in between No. 4 and No.
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