Bachtrack: “A truly remarkable display from a musical giant”

Chris Garlick – Bachtrack

“Intimacy and brilliant showmanship were equally on show at the Barbican, courtesy of the creative powerhouse that is Yuja Wang. In a programme that mostly consisted of showy, but intense and mostly off the beaten track works, the audience could not fail to be engrossed and indeed thrilled throughout.

[In] Rachmaninov’s second most famous solo piano piece, the Prelude in G minor, Op.23 no. 5…Wang laid out her trademark technical brilliance and romantic sensibility. This was further illustrated in the six short Rachmaninov pieces that followed, particularly notable was the rarefied sweetness she achieved in the B minor prelude, Op.32 no. 4.

[Yuja Wang] found the ideal balance between the extreme pianissimos and the complex fluttering trills that go nowhere. The piece, in her interpretation, seemed suspended in some eerie place outside of reality, existing for a moment then fading into nothingness.

The third piece Désordre quite simply requires superhuman technique and precision and it got it here with knobs on.

…handled without any strain and in the slow central section, touchingly recalling earlier themes, her touch was particularly refined. The final explosive coda reached heights of excitement and controlled power that I have rarely heard in a live performance.”