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Sonatas & Etudes (Chopin/Ligeti/Scriabin/Liszt)

23 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 7, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Recording debut of the 21-year-old virtuoso Chinese pianist. Since her debut in 2005 Yuja Wang has given astonishing debuts in almost every major US city and continues with
a substantial tour throughout 2008. Yuja has stepped in for Radu Lapu and Martha Argerich in major concerto appearances, and wowed audiences and the press alike. Album highlights not only her technical brilliance but also musical subtlety.


Charmingly slight of build, Miss Yuja seated herself demurely at the piano, then proceeded to blow the roof off Strathmore s Concert Hall with a massive yet insightful attack on the piece...Her speed and control were dazzling, her tone full and rich, her mastery of the composer s wicked passage work nearly perfect. Not yet 21, she seems already destined to become one of this century's major talents. --The Washington Time

The arrival of Chinese-born pianist Yuja Wang on the musical scene is an exhilarating and unnerving development. To listen to her in action is to re-examine whatever assumptions you may have had about how well the piano can actually be played. --The San Francisco Chronicle
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Product Details

  • Performer: Yuja Wang
  • Conductor: Yuja Wang
  • Composer: Chopin, Ligeti, Scriabin, Liszt
  • Audio CD (April 7, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,189 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Erik Ketzan on March 12, 2009
Format: MP3 Music
First of all, I recently had the pleasure of seeing the 22-year-old Yuja live, and she's an eye-popping performer, with rock-solid technique and hands that seem to move like kung fu. She has ended recent concerts with encores including Cziffra's Flight of the Bumblebee and Volodos's beefed-up Turkish March, both of which can be seen on YouTube and convey the excitement she brings to live performance. She's already proven herself a rising star in a field badly in need of some new blood.

The two major pieces on this CD, the Liszt Sonata in B Minor and Chopin Sonata 2, impress but are predictable choices.

Yuja joins a number of other up-and-coming pianists in recent years to include Liszt's piano sonata in B Minor on their debut or second CD: David Fray (David Fray Plays Schubert & Liszt) and Yundi Li (Yundi Li: Liszt), for instance. And the reason is simple: it shows the world you mean business. It's difficult, displays a wide range of piano technique in its 30 minutes, and, since it's been done by every piano legend in the book-- Horowitz, Argerich, Brendel, Kempff, Pollini, Richter, Rubinstein, you name it-- lets a young pianist declare that they're ready to join the big leagues. There are no doubt listeners who compare many versions of this piece and can pick and choose their favorites, but suffice it to say that Yuja's is a fine rendition that equals or betters anyone else of the young generation.
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Robert L. Berkowitz on December 19, 2009
Format: Audio CD
I don't know what to make of the phenomenon that a young Chinese pianist can play the pinnacles of the piano repertoire with an apparent ease and with musicality that challenges the established greats in the field. I had the advantage of listening to this CD without having looked at the liner notes or cover picture, so I came to a conclusion based entirely on listening. I was very excited about this disc. I found it to be a compelling and interesting recital, more than just a collection of difficult piano pieces on display.

The recital is bookended by two of the greatest romantic piano works, the Chopin Bb Minor Sonata and Liszt B Minor. In between, there are two Ligeti Etudes surrounding Scriabin's 2nd Piano Sonata (the Sonata-Fantasy). The juxtaposition of the Ligeti Etudes seems inspired to me. The first one immediately invited me to remember the end of the Chopin Sonata that just preceded it, and it formed a welcome bridge to Scriabin's wonderful 2nd Sonata (played very movingly -- probably one of the best recorded versions of the piece). The second one was also fascinating -- both Ligeti Etudes served as a kind of sorbet between the larger works that surrounded them. The Liszt Sonata is given a robust and enthralling reading here. She captured my attention from beginning to end.

I eagerly await to see what other recordings she produces, and I hope to have an opportunity to hear her live. This is a wonderful recital.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Paul Turner on August 20, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It is tempting to say that there are a few great performances among the many, many recordings of the Liszt sonata and that they are all by Emil Gilels (Salzburg, 1970 on Orfeo and the 1965 RCA studio recording are essential). But Yuja Wang is also the real thing, and her beautifully recorded performance is among the very best. Wherever it is possible to draw the wrong kind of attention to yourself, she is sure-footed, artistically and interpretatively right on the money. She draws attention only to the music, and yet she is also her own voice. She has that magnificent quality of being able to make you listen, occasionally seeming to stop time. Right from the off, the descending octaves force you to listen. The leaping subject is daring and powerful but not rhythmically distorted for the sake of accuracy. Then the repeated-note theme is chilling, the last note abruptly clipped, the phrase as a whole again so musical. And so it goes on: virtuosity of the highest order at the service of one of the greatest masterpieces of the 19th century and one of the greatest solo piano works in the entire repertoire. As DG's artwork shows, Yuja Wang is a very striking young woman, but that is wholly incidental to this astonishingly mature and musically rewarding performance. And, of course, that is just the Liszt. Another joy of this album is the fact that is could be a recorded concert - the Chopin funeral march sonata and Scriabin's beautiful second sonata making up the programme along with two of Gyorgy Ligeti's extraordinary etudes including the spookily fantastic Sorcerer's Apprentice. So, a good-looking young woman who is a great pianist giving a truly wonderful concert on a very attractive DG disc...? Yes, that's about it. While I have been writing the Liszt sonata has just finished.Read more ›
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Michael Gunther on June 6, 2010
Format: Audio CD
Yuja Wang has already attracted a huge Cult of Personality (I am a charter member), based on her amazing live performances of virtuoso and contemporary music, that establish a visceral connection with her audience. This artist truly has the potential to become one of the great pianists of our time. The meat of this, her first CD, isn't the modern music that is her most outstanding repertoire, but rather two big Romantic sonatas of Chopin and Liszt. It is a very bold move, since it invites comparison to two of the greatest performances ever recorded by the Old Masters: Horowitz for Chopin, and Andre Watts for Liszt.

In Chopin's sonata, Yuja is the anti-Horowitz; I barely recognized the melody in the fast sections of the first movement, since her rhythmic beat is deliberately (I think) placed into non-traditional accents. She offers the "Funeral March" as a Promethian struggle against Fate, rather than Horowitz' elegaic threnody. She feathers the one-and-a-half-minutes long, and inhumanly-fast, fourth movement like a moth on a fluttering wing, in contrast to Horowitz' careful (but equally fast!) articulation and voicing.

In the Liszt sonata, Andre Watts (1985) delivers a jaw-dropping 30-minute continuous trajectory; it is truly magical, flexible, subtle, and overwhelming. Yuja breaks it up into a postmodern sensibility of scintillating shards, with plenty of air between the phrases, and jarring contrasts of tempo, dynamics, and tone-colors.

Yuja's CD wouldn't necessarily be my first choice for either piece, but it delivers enough virtuoso fireworks and new musical ideas to make it well worth hearing; it is an original and modern take on these two classics.
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Sonatas & Etudes (Chopin/Ligeti/Scriabin/Liszt)
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