To play a concert in the International Chopin Festival series that only contains six and a half minutes of music by Chopin takes some confidence. But if anyone can bring it off it’s the 23-year-old Beijing-born pianist Wang Yuja (王羽佳).
Wang is the latest classical piano-playing comet to roar out of China. She’s on a par with Lang Lang (郎朗) (with whom she shared a teacher at the elite Curtis Institute in Philadelphia), Yundi Li (李雲迪) and, going back further, Fou Tsong (傅聰). She may not have won the International Chopin Competition, but she’s been taking audiences by storm in the US and Europe. She’s already legendary for the force and brilliance of her playing, and for refusing to build up a charismatic stage persona — until, that is, the moment comes when she first hits the keys.
The program’s one Chopin item is the Waltz in C Sharp Minor, Op. 64 No. 2, a profound work that barely hides its inner melancholy under its surface brilliance. Wang’s preference, however, seems to be for sterner stuff.
Scarlatti’s one-movement sonatas, originally written for harpsichord, have attracted some modern pianists and Wang will play four of them. Much more substantial, however, is a selection of pieces by the late 19th-century mystic and experimentalist Alexander Scriabin that combine Romantic effusion with pre-modern difficulty and abstraction. These works have possibly always been more attractive to pianists than to listeners, but they will certainly be ideal material through which to perceive Wang’s intense and
Also on the program are three Schubert lieder arranged as pieces for solo piano by Liszt, and the three movements from Stravinsky’s 1911 ballet Petroushka that the composer arranged for solo piano in 1921 for use by Artur Rubinstein.
The program will be played twice, first in Hsinchu on Monday, then in Taipei on Wednesday. These concerts have all the hallmarks of being special occasions. Wang, though already eminent, is still a rising star, and the program she’s chosen is clearly one that both decisively exhibits her talents and suits her highly individualistic nature.
Wang Yuja plays at the Hsinchu Municipal Auditorium (新竹市文化局演藝廳), 17, Dongda Rd Sec 2, Hsinchu City (新竹市東大路二段17號), on Monday at 7:30pm, and at the National Concert Hall, Taipei, at 7:30pm on Wednesday.
Tickets are NT$400 to NT$1,800 (Hsinchu) and NT$800 to NT$2,800 (Taipei), available
from ERA ticket outlets, online at www.ticket.com.tw, or
7-Eleven ibon and FamilyMart
(全家) FamiPort kiosks.