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Transformation: Stravinsky / Scarlatti / Brahms / Ravel

4.6 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 13, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

On the heels of her impressive Deutsche Grammophon debut recital album, pianist Yuja Wang's return recording for the label - Transformation - categorically demonstrates that she is a young master of the Steinway.Her new album excites with a demanding recital that includes some of the most electrifying pieces of piano literature - Stravinsky's Petrushka, Brahms's Variations on a Theme by Paganini, Scarlatti's Sonatas in E and B minor, and Ravel's La Valse. Yuja Wang's ability to take her music by storm is tempered by a sophisticated musicality that never distorts the line. Transformation highlights Yuja Wang's penchant for piecing together high concept programs the public adores.

Review

"She seems to have everything: speed, flexibility, pianistic thunder and interpretive nuance." -- The New York Times

Wang has both the energetic, fearless imagination of youth and the probing sensitivity that in most artists comes only with maturity - as well as the keyboard technique to put all her ideas flawlessly into action . . . Extravagantly gifted on every front. -- San Francisco Chronicle

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Danse russe
  2. Chez Pétrouchka
  3. La semaine grasse
  4. Scarlatti: Sonata in E, K 380
  5. Brahms: Variations on a Theme by Paganini, op. 35
  6. Scarlatti: Sonata in f minor, K 466
  7. Ravel: la Valse (Poème Choréographique)


Product Details

  • Performer: Yuja Wang
  • Composer: Igor Stravinsky, Dominico Scarlatti, Johannes Brahms, Maurice Ravel
  • Audio CD (April 13, 2010)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B0035F0MTG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,362 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Santa Fe Listener HALL OF FAME on April 13, 2010
Format: Audio CD
DG recently lost its two superstar Chinese pianists, with Yundi (as he wants to be known) skipping to EMI and Lang Lang to Sony. they have the power to demand any terms they want, while DG must turn to a new crop of virtuosos. They've placed a good bet on Yuja Wang. Although marketed as sexy in this all-red cover photo, she has the technique to match her male rivals, a solid musical background form Curtis Institute, a famous teacher in Gary Graffman, and most important, real musical instincts. The only drawback is that she has been launched internationally before her musical gifts have matured, but since when is that new?

This, her second solo album, begins with a famous knuckle-cruncher, the Three Movement form Petrushka (1921), where we can compare her directly to Evgeny Kisisn and Maurizio Pollini. She bows to neither for technique, and her quick tempos are fearless. Pollini sounds ore aristocratic, Kisisn more grand, but Wang's light, sparkling rendition is more breathtaking because she really does make the technical hurdles seem effortless. This kind of control is jaw-dropping, for once giving meaning to that cliche. DG's sound is first-rate, and so is the piano she has chosen. By comparison, Pollini's piano sounds tinny and hard.

I wish the rest of the program didn't seem like an audition for a piano competition, consisting of two delicate Scarlatti sonatas, the humongous Paganini Variations of Brahms, and as a taste treat at the end, Ravel's La valse. It wasn't necessary to display so methodically that Wang can cover all bases. that said, the Scarlatti is done with charm and an easy touch' not for her the brittle brilliance of Horowitz. Let me confess that my interest in Brahms's big-deal piano works is only passing.
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I first heard Yuja Wang on Symphony Cast on Feb. 1st- the host quoted a SF reviewer that said, basically, that to hear Yuja Wang play was to re-evaluate how well the piano could be played-
Yeah right, I thought- I have certainly heard that before. But it was absolutely true! Words are lacking to explain this, but despite all the great pianists I have heard, this was a special and unique experience. Her playing translates well in this recording; technical brilliance? No doubt. Expressiveness and musical sensitivity beyond her years? Well yes, very much so!
She has a unique ability to make musical sense out of complex pieces that would simply be noise in lesser hands.
A fabulous young artist!
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The 24 year old Chinese born Yuja Wang seems to have it all. She is a beautiful young performer who knows her repertoire and also knows how to adjust a series of works that will leave any audience satisfied. And given those virtues so important on the road to fame, Yuja Wang is startlingly brilliant in this her second recording form DGG. It may have been a safer idea to offer another recital of the works of one composer at this point in her career, but that would have been robbing us of a thoroughly delightful program of varying composers and Wang's 'transformation of these.

The open works - a triptych of pieces from Stravinsky's ballet Pétrouchka alone are worth buying this recording. Wang's virtuosity is stunning - the clarity of her technique is probably unmatched on other recordings of the piano version of this music. And her interpretation doesn't stop there. Her ability to transform Stravinsky's rhythms into pianistic jewels is a feat worthy of adulation. There is as much atmosphere in these three moments as in the ballet with full orchestra! Wang follows these with two Scarlatti Sonatas (in E and in f minor) and her way with these challenging pieces is once again as though they came from her own creative live of thinking - crisp, elegant, probing.

For this listener the Brahms 'Variations on a Theme by Paganini' is a complete success, not only because of her ability to present this difficult work with utter ease, but her choice to place the Brahms in between the two Scarlatti Sonatas is a stroke of programming genius.
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2 Comments 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Elsewhere I have expressed my unfailing admiration for this amazing artist. Her
performances of the most demanding works are achieved with apparent ease,
and she does play some of the most demanding works. More importantly, they
are done with astounding finesse. Her recordings, at least of 19th- and 20th-century
works, will be welcome additions to the collections of anyone interested in fine
piano playing.
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Yuja Wang is a remarkably gifted young Chinese pianist who combines awesome seemingly effortless technique
with artistic sensitivity of the highest order. The Scarlatti sonata which I have heard many many times was just a revelation while the Stravinsky and Brahms just dazzled me for someone so young. I greatly look forward to when
she tries her skills at Beethoven, Schumann, and Mozart. It is on my List of Intentions to see her live some time
in the future. I can't imagine what she will be like 10 years from now when she begins to mature. I intend to still be around to find out. The sound of the piano on the recording is beautifully natural. This is a CD to have if you love great piano playing.
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