Yuja wang: Sonatas & Etudes

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Chopin,Liszt & Ligeti,Scriabin
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Sonatas & Etudes by Chopin, Scriabin, Liszt & Ligeti
PERFORMER: Yuja Wang (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 477 8140

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She’s young, attractive, articulate – certainly very marketable for a major record label. But make no mistake, Yuja Wang is one hell of a pianist. Born in 1987, she’s still got a lot of development ahead of her, as this recording to some extent reinforces, but she has all the equipment to be one of the most exciting pianists of her generation.

As well as a stunning technique she has a fabulous range of sonority and colour (and she’s been superbly caught by DG’s engineers). She is also very comfortable with extremes of dynamic and expression, and this gives her playing a striking intensity.

She gives a powerful account of Chopin’s Second Sonata, sailing through its notorious difficulties. But there is no need to distort the music to underline her personal vision, as she does by lowering the bass octaves at the funeral march’s recapitulation. Her Scriabin is ravishing, although her interpretation doesn’t quite seem settled, while the two Ligeti Etudes, especially ‘Fanfares’, suit her dazzling fingerwork perfectly. Pianistically, parts of her Liszt Sonata are extraordinary, with blistering octaves, razor-sharp articulation and a wonderful tonal richness. At times it feels emotionally rather distant, and if she doesn’t quite engage with this work’s psychological level, this will come with time.

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Reservations notwithstanding, I urge you to hear this disc. Unquestionably, Yuja Wang is a pianist to watch. Tim Parry