“The centrepiece of Klaus Mäkelä’s extraordinary Prom with the Oslo Philharmonic was a performance of Liszt’s First Piano Concerto with Yuja Wang as soloist: a breathtaking account of the work, virtuosic on every level, both pianistic and orchestral. Since its first performance in 1855 it has been fashionable to decry the piece as overly flamboyant, though Wang and Mäkelä revealed just how much depth there is to it, and what an impact it can make when taken seriously and properly handled.
Wang’s formidable technique and remarkable dynamic control allowed her both to hurl the opening flourishes out with terrific force and produce exquisite pianissimos in the adagio, which is sometimes described as an operatic aria without words and structured round one of Liszt’s most beautiful melodies. The scherzo was filigree-light, the martial finale propulsively energetic without a trace of pomposity.”
“For surface brilliance there’s nothing she can’t do better than anyone else, seemingly effortlessly, whether it’s finger-twisting chords sweeping up and down the keyboard faster than the eye can follow, or cascades of hushed staccato octaves.
For surface brilliance there’s nothing she can’t do better than anyone else, seemingly effortlessly, whether it’s finger-twisting chords sweeping up and down the keyboard faster than the eye can follow, or cascades of hushed staccato octaves.”
“The most striking thing about Wang’s Liszt wasn’t the barnstorming virtuosity it was the tenderness, lyricism and sheer beauty of it… She is, in fact, hugely flexible although can remain entirely still while spanning the whole keyboard. Although there is considerable power in her playing, the elegance of motion through her neck and head is wonderful to see. It is like watching an imperious swan float against the current in a fast-moving river.”