RACHMANINOV: Piano Concerto No. 3
PROKOFIEV: Piano Concerto No. 2
Yuja Wang
Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra
of Venezuela
Gustavo Dudamel
Int. Release 03 Feb. 2014
1 CD / Download
0289 479 1304 7
Live recording

Track List

Sergey Vasil'yevich Rachmaninov (1873 - 1943)
Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30

Sergei Prokofiev (1891 - 1953)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 16


Yuja Wang, Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, Gustavo Dudamel

Total Playing Time 1:11:44

. . . Wang is a force of nature . . . With concerti, Wang feeds off the energy from the orchestra. In her recent performance and upcoming CD with Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, the energy was palpable.

. . . [a] piano sensation. . . In the highly competitive world of classical piano, the diminutive Wang swings like a heavyweight, having impressed audiences all over the world with her technical prowess and broad repertoire that includes many of the most difficult pieces ever written for the instrument.

. . . Wang's flamboyant stage presence and unbridled virtuosity coupled with a crystal clear sound, remarkable ear for colour and effusive musicality make her playing near-instantly recognisable. Despite the showmanship, there is a fierce intelligence here and no repertoire holds any fears for her . . .

. . . a brilliant showcase for pianist Yuja Wang and maestro Gustavo Dudamel, two of the biggest sensations on the label . . . Wang's playing is clear and generally well-balanced in the audio mix . . . [Prokofiev 2]: the solo part is always audible, and the accompaniment is, for the most part, quite transparent . . . this exciting performance really deserves top billing . . .

It is a pleasure to appreciate the qualities and excitement of a live recording without distracting noises from the audience. And speaking of excitement, if there is one word to describe these performers, it is "exciting." On this record, we simply have two of the most electrifying musicians of the day accompanied by an orchestra that played a concert at Carnegie Hall that Wang described as "the most exciting concert I've been to." With this much enthusiasm by the soloist, conductor and orchestra, great things were bound to happen. And they did . . . [Prokofiev]: a wonderful addition [to great recordings] and worth every minute . . . . Unlike the Rachmaninoff, the Second Piano Concerto by Prokofiev is less well known, and it is here, I think, that the Dudamel-Wang duo really knock the ball out of the park. Wang displays a deep understanding of the work, and Dudamel's direction is spot on. In both concertos, Dudamel let's us hear Wang; the orchestra is truly there to accompany the soloist. This is really a must-have disc for anyone who is a fan of the piano concerto repertory or of Wang or Dudamel. If this disc is any indication of the special musical relationship between the two, we can only hope that there are many more recordings to come.

Powerful piano classics . . . The incandescent young Chinese pianist Yuja Wang teams up with the equally explosive Gustavo Dudamel . . . [a] superb debut collaboration.

. . . [Rachmaninov 3]: the piano part's swirling textures benefit from Wang's fanciful voicings, imaginative rubatos, and frisky, dead-on accurate fingerwork . . . For his part, Dudamel takes care that important first-desk solos get their due, such as in the first movement's rarely audible trumpet and the extended bassoon and horn passages. The oboe soloist at the Intermezzo's outset stands out . . . The darkly sustained strings and fluid grace of the nocturne-like piano writing in the Prokofiev Second's first movement are attention worthy . . . many memorable moments highlight this promising [release] . . .

It is difficult to believe that her dimintive body could have such incredible power and stamina, all obvious from these knock-out performances of two of the most difficult concertos in the repertory. The millions of notes are dispatched with the greatest virtuosity, yet no lack of sensitivity. This is an exciting Rachmaninoff Third that doesn't linger excessively . . . Wang also commands the mighty Prokofiev Concerto, and her performance is right at the top . . . Wang has the advantage of Dudamel's perfect accompaniment, and what a pleasure it is to hear the rich sounds of the large Venezuelan orchestra playing with virtuosity to match the soloist. Another plus is audio quality of these live recordings . . . This is a terrific recording in every way!

She has a technique every bit [formidable] . . . [Wang] just plays magnificently, with real respect for the music . . . [Wang], especially in the Rachmaninov, not only matches the great virtuosos of the past, such as Vladimir Horowitz and indeed Rachmaninov himself, in all the glitter and panache of this music, but also reveals the underlying sadness that the depressive Rachmaninov always wrote into his work . . . [Prokofiev]: extremely well done here . . . Gustavo Dudamel and his Simón Bolívar Orchestra are sympathetic accompanists.

. . . two of the most ferociously demanding of all piano concertos . . . Making her virtuoso credentials clear throughout, Wang dismisses every difficulty with nonchalant ease; hear her in the skittering waltz variation in the central Intermezzo of the Rachmaninov or in the scintillating "a tempo come prima" outburst in the finale . . . She is no less powerful and quicksilver in the Prokofiev, where Rachmaninov's romanticism is taken into an altogether darker and more menacing place . . . this is a talent with a vengeance, the youthful partnership with Dudamel is ideal and both performances . . . are understandably greeted with storms of applause.

I very much enjoyed hearing this new recording.

We must now regard Yuja Wang as having graduated from the status of "Wunderkind" to that of major keyboard artist . . . Her reading of the Rachmaninoff is brisk and uncannily clean . . . [the performance] is never superficial nor light-weight. As impressive as Wang is in the Concerto, so are Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra . . . Dudamel is right with Wang every step of the way, and the orchestra's execution of the difficult accompaniment is responsive and polished. The tricky solo wind parts are especially well played, and are right on the money. The Prokofiev, an essay in his "enfant terrible" mode, is played powerfully and lucidly -- just listen to the formidable first movement cadenza, or the second movement Scherzo, a breathless tour de force. Again Wang's incredible technique serves an exciting conception of the work . . . The recording is about as good as it gets for live concerts with a soloist; balances are excellent, with the piano prominent but not overpowering, and with important solo winds in the Rachmaninoff always clearly audible . . . It's easy to recommend this one . . . as a distinguished entry in the growing discography of a phenomenal young pianist.

Wang adds what would appear to be the need for speed. It would be a flaw in her playing were not it so obviously an expressive device, completely under her control, and a fundamental component of her spontaneity as an artist. It's the sizzling fuse to her explosive performance of this piece. Yet equally spell-binding about this interpretation is its delicacy and simplicity of utterance when those are called for. If she were about effects, she would probably have opted for the second, longer, showier cadenza in the first movement, but her masterful shaping of the more musical first one . . . could stand as a motto for the integrity as well as the dazzling variety of her musicianship . . . [Dudamel and his orchestra] are ideal partners here, and Wang repays the compliment by delivering some of Rachmaninov's finest filigree, precisely and with exquisite color, at an almost eerie remove that allows the orchestra's other voices, particularly the winds, to sing as lyrically as she does. The long, brooding central Intermezzo is, despite its enormous range of expression, taken in a single breath. The rhythms in the Finale are astonishingly elastic, with a snap that keeps the ever-accelerating movement in sharp focus. By the time she's put this runaway, still-arresting-after-all-these-years music through the centrifuge of her musical imagination, a pure, spinning new element emerges . . . [the truly fiendish Prokofiev Second] holds no terrors for Wang . . . She goes for its poetry, pyrotechnics, and uneasily shifting moods, and paints a lightning-lit landscape with it.

[Rachmaninov 3]: It's a virtue rather than a shortcoming that Wang and Dudamel never push the music too hard or too fast. Even in the finale they allow the music to yearn where appropriate . . . I very much enjoyed hearing this new recording.

. . . Wang is equal to every challenge . . . The playing is brilliant . . . The live recordings are clear and well-balanced . . .

Dazzling Prokofiev and Rachmaninov from Yuja Wang . . . This is musically powerful playing, and the monstrously difficult cadenza in the Prokofiev seems like child's play in her hands. I cannot imagine anyone not being impressed by her performance . . . In the Prokofiev, Dudamel is fine with the brutality that the composer demands . . .

Yuja Wang plays the socks off Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev . . .

Vor allem das Prokofjew-Konzert lebt von der Eindringlichkeit ihres Tons: Beinahe hart klingt er im Schnellen, weich und anschmiegsam im Lyrischen . . . die beiden Interpretationen [stehen sich] in nichts nach. Beide zeugen vom Elan und der Intensität, mit der das Orchester und Wang gemeinsam gestalten. Bei Rachmaninow beeindrucken die fließenden, organischen Gesten, von Prokofjew bleiben vor allem die zahlreichen Feuerwerke, die sie gemeinsam entzünden, im Gedächtnis . . . Eine mehr als gelungene Zusammenarbeit [aller] und nicht nur inspirierend für die Beteiligten, sondern auch für die, die ihnen zuhören.

Virtuos und farbig . . . [dieser Mitschnitt] kann sich wirklich hören lassen. Die immensen manuellen Anforderungen der Werke meistern Yuja Wangs unglaublich flinke Finger quasi nebenher. So kann es sich die Chinesin ohne Weiteres leisten, etwas flottere Tempi für die Konzerte zu wählen, was insbesondere im Rachmaninow-Konzert allen Tendenzen zu Schwulst und Schwere entgegenwirkt; hinzu kommt eine geschmeidige Phrasierung und ein breites Spektrum an Klangfarben. Bereits die Art und Weise, mit der sie das Hauptthema des Kopfsatzes im Rachmaninow-Konzert abtönt, hebt sie über das Gros der reinen Virtuosen empor, die Girlanden im zweiten Satz kleidet sie in ein solch verführerisch leuchtendes Piano, dass man niederknien möchte, während sie die Tonrepetitionen im Finale wie entfesselt pulsieren lässt. Im Prokofjew-Konzert geht sie in die Extreme, profiliert die romantischen Passagen [deutlich von den perkussiven Abschnitten] . . . Das Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra begleitet schmissig und mit sattem Schmelz in den Streichern . . .

. . . [Rachmaninov 3]: [kaum jemand] hat diese Musik mit solcher Transparenz, so viel Energie, Rasanz und aggressivem Biss gespielt, wie es Yuja Wang hier gelingt. Und im schmachtenden langsamen Satz scheut sie sich auch nicht vor großen Gefühlen. Sie ist der unbestrittene Star dieser Produktion . . . [Dudamel und das Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra] begleiten ganz tadellos, beherrschen den opulenten sinfonischen Klang von Rachmaninows Werk ebenso wie die kristalline Klangsprache Sergej Prokofjews, dessen zweites Klavierkonzert in g-Moll ebenfalls auf der CD vertreten ist. Natürlich ist es auch in diesem Fall ein riesiges Vergnügen, der Virtuosin Yuja Wang zuzuhören.

[Eine der] besten Aufnahmen des Jahres 2014 . . . [eine künstlerisch überzeugende] Alternative zum herrschenden Vortragsstil.

. . . se rencontrent et fusionnent le tempérament puissant et éloquent de la jeune pianiste chinoise Yuja Wang . . . [la] championne pour le jeu délié et élégant, une digitalité jamais heurtée ni trop percussive (y compris dans les climats versatiles syncopés du Prokofiev), et l'éclat d'une baguette qui avait immédiatement conquis et Salonen et Abbado: celle du vénézuélien [Gustavo Dudamel] . . . La fusion orchestre et piano dans le n°3 de Rachmaninov (1909) est formidable de crépitement comme de flexibilité -- virtuosité funambule et magicienne de la pianiste dans les variations du I-, même l'orchestre dévoile de superbes couleurs, fondantes, précises, jamais sirupeuses. Un manifeste furieusement enivré. Du grand art . . . [Prokofiev / Piano Concerto no. 2]: l'élégance de Yuja Wang ne faiblit pas, bien au contraire, en particulier dans sa cadence ébouriffante qui dure près de la moitié de la séquence. L'agilité d'une toccata qui cache son nom dans le second mouvement déconcerte et convainc tout autant. Quant au finale, tempestoso, la vitalité de la jeune pianiste irradie d'une énergie accrocheuse, idéalement trempée. La complicité que suggère ce live, la haute tenue technicienne, l'intelligence musicale de la pianiste que Martha Argerich a salué, et la direction enflammée mesurée du chef qui dévoile ici sa permanente facilité dans la forme du Concerto . . . font les délices d'un superbe récital concertant. Totale réussite.

. . . [Wang]: éblouissante . . . un enregistrement "live" à vrai dire stupéfiant de technique où s'enchaînent deux mastodontes de la littérature pianistique diabolique: Rachma 3 et Proko 2 pour les intimes, l'enfer sur terre pour les pianistes . . . [elle] consacre son statut de virtuose prodige dans ce répertoire qu'elle aborde avec une facilité déconcertante . . . avec tant d'aisance et de détachement . . . [Rachmaninov 3: un résultat] très impressionnant: avec une très belle projection du son, un vrai intérêt musical, une écoute de l'orchestre, la pianiste ne pourrait pas paraître plus confortable en train de tricoter dans un fauteuil. De même dans le Deuxième Concerto de Prokofiev . . . L'enthousiasme et la fraîcheur de l'orchestre vénézuélien porté par son gourou Dudamel apparaît comme un partenaire de jeu idéal dans ce concert enregistré auquel il eût sans doute été excitant d'assister!

  • Yuja Wang & Dudamel: Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 3

    Watch Yuja Wang and Gustavo Dudamel perform Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor op. 30, Intermezzo. Adagio.

  • Yuja Wang & Dudamel: Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 2

    Watch Yuja Wang and Gustavo Dudamel perform Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor op. 16, Scherzo. Vivace.