Seeing Yuja Wang

My dad and I saw the fabulous Yuja Wang last week. She was performing with violinist Leonidas Kavakos at Benaroya Hall. Wow, wow, wow. Both are spectacular musicians, and have been written about a gazillion times (including on these pages, which list Wang's performing schedule and reviews back to 1994. Their program this time included Schubert, Debussy, Janáček and Bartok - beautiful but also difficult pieces to play (and sometimes, to listen to, not being the most melodic or accessible to unaccustomed ears!). Technically, Wang is beyond impressive. Lyrically, she is wonderfully expressive. She has the combination of technical prowess and sensitivity that make her so much fun to listen to. I went to the recital prepared to be inspired, and expecting to be a little intimidated! What I came away with, though, was quite unexpected. I was most impressed with how Wang was not afraid to play soft passages softly. She has such control over her sound. In a hall where she could play forcefully, spectacularly, and with great finesse (which she did, at times), she played the most beautiful, thoughtful pianissimos, without forcing the sound one bit. I think this is even harder to do than playing fast and furious - to get control of every note so that the music can sing...

It happened also to be her birthday, so afterwards at the signing, the line began to sing "Happy Birthday" to Yuja. What a fun night! Thank you for sharing your birthday to us!

(Not to slight Leonidas Kavakos at all, who played an equally demanding program with incredible skill and beauty. Because I am a pianist, I naturally gravitate to other pianists, in an attempt to learn from, and apply what I can from their performances. Bravo to you both!!!)

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