The Berlin Recital: works by Ligeti, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov & Scriabin
Yuja Wang (DG)
The Berlin Recital
Ligeti Etudes pour piano – selection; Prokofiev Piano Sonata No. 8; Rachmaninov Preludes – Op. 23 No. 5 in G minor; Op. 32 No. 10 in B minor; Etudes-Tableaux – selection; Scriabin Piano Sonata No. 10
Yuja Wang (piano)
DG 483 6280 65:27 mins
Listeners to this recording miss a swathe of what the Berlin audience caught in June 2018: more Rachmaninov and four encores (released on an EP last year). The gain is in powerful connections forged instantly between works. Scriabin’s final sonata refines Rachmaninov’s more elliptical aspect and foreshadows more direct Ligeti; Wang’s hypersensitive poetry sees through the veil but never rips it down. There’s even a hint of the mystic Russian’s chromatics in Prokofiev’s greatest sonata movement, the first of the Eighth.
All this highlights the poetry of a pianist we’ve more often seen in extrovert showcases like Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto. She knows how to give just enough space to a phrase while never losing sight of parallel lines (the middle of Rachmaninov’s G minor Prelude, the dreaming Minuet at the heart of Prokofiev’s masterpiece). Personally I’d prefer a little less sustaining pedal in the close up sound, not that Wang ever uses it to cover up technical difficulties – she has none; it’s just that Prokofiev as pianist favoured a drier touch, and so do top performers Richter and Melnikov in his music. But that’s the deliberate choice of a supremely intelligent, deeply feeling artist of the first order. Now I want to hear Wang in all Rachmaninov’s
Op. 39 Etudes-Tableaux, all Ligeti’s Etudes and the Prokofiev sonatas immediately preceding the Eighth.