The Yuja Wang album that everyone has been waiting for wows with musical miniatures that are short, sweet, and huge in impact. These encore pieces by Scriabin, Gluck, Rachmaninov, Chopin and others will enthrall Yuja Wang's fans with challenging technical demands and the bravura precision of her execution.
The melding of her legendary technical skills with her interpretive intelligence transforms this album of treats into a profound musical experience.
The variety of styles - which includes neo-Classical, Impressionist, Romantic, jazz - in addition to the quality of the arrangements of pieces that are adaptations, provides a welcome and yet unique listening experience.
"Wang's playing-style is more focused than flamboyant and she has a distinctive, deft technique that allows for an astonishing lightness of touch..."
- Nick Shave,
BBC Music Magazine
/ March 2012
"...sensitive and mature technique...clever programming skills...The variety is enough here to make the listener giddy, especially when presented in such vivid, richly textured studio sound. Time and again Wang shows us why she's become the world's darling, whether shading dynamics poetically in a morsel of Gluck's "Orfeo ed Euridice", clarifying the multiple layers in Albéniz's "Triana", or romping with the preposterous glitter of Horowitz's "Carmen Variations" . . . With such tracks we listen intently, happy to follow Wang's fingers wherever they take us..."
- Geoff Brown,
(London) / March 23, 2012
Whatever programmatic agenda Yuja Wang had in mind for her third solo DG release, I detect not so much a “Fantasia” as a “Vladimir Horowitz Tribute” due to her inclusion of two celebrated Horowitz transcriptions, along with other works associated with the legendary pianist such as Rachmaninov’s E-flat minor Etude-Tableau, Scriabin’s Op. 32 No. 1 Poème, Chopin’s C-sharp minor Waltz, and Scarlatti’s G major K. 455 sonata. That said, Wang’s impressive prowess and effusive personality can withstand the comparison.
Granted, her repeated notes in the Scarlatti don’t quite match Horowitz’s power, projection, and colorful contrasts (nor does Wang observe the repeats that Horowitz took in his 1962 studio recording), while the E-flat minor Etude-Tableau’s yearning melodies fall short of Horowitz’s shapely specificity and inner drama. While Wang’s skittish phrasing in the Rachmaninov B minor Op. 39 No. 4 underplays the music’s rhythmic backbone, the opposite holds true in her supple, effortless grasp of the Op. 39 No. 6 A minor’s leaping chords and swirling runs. Her lithe and flexible treatments of the Schubert/Liszt Gretchen am Spinnrade and Gluck/Sgambati “Melodie” from Orfeo ed Euridice seem to float out of the instrument, and the Chopin Waltz’s middle-section embellishments are seductively understated. Wang’s sparkling and wittily pointed pianism throughout Victor Straub’s rare solo piano transcription of Dukas’ L’apprenti sorcier almost makes you forget the composer’s ingenious orchestration.
The Scriabin miniatures are appropriately atmospheric by virtue of Wang’s careful pedaling and nuanced phrasing. She makes child’s play of the interlocking octaves and nearly impossible leaps in the Cziffra/Strauss Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka, yet where is the nervous energy, explosive accentuation, and high-wire temperament of Cziffra’s own recording? But Wang brings off Horowitz’s Carmen and Danse macabre with admirable aplomb. Indeed, her smaller, rounder piano tone suits the diabolical passagework just as effectively as Horowitz’s more forceful, gaunter sonority. She doesn’t internalize Triana’s lively accentuations and juicy harmonic concoctions to Alicia De Larrocha’s smoldering degree, but then again, few other pianists do. Overall, an enchanting release.
Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com