“Wang and Noseda strike sparks in high-voltage NSO program”

Charles T. Downey, Washington Classical Review

Wang attacked the solo part of Prokofiev’s concerto with the fury of a whirling dervish. Her percussive touch, all jabs and stinging attacks, was a hard-edged thrill in this tour de force work.

She hit all the marks with remarkable clarity and a disarming nonchalance … A luxurious lassitude pervaded the fourth movement, the longest and most striking of the five. Wang relished little duets with the viola section, the clarinet, and other instruments, her impatience showing only a little before the fast middle section. The “Poco più animato” section, with its gossamer thirty-second note scales in the pianist’s right hand, was a mysterious delight, woven together with skill. Wang and the NSO dove into a dizzying account of the finale, with the soloist darting ahead of the orchestra impetuously, taming easily all of the knotted technical challenges.

The only flashy feature of a Yuja Wang performance that might compete with her wardrobe is her choice of encores, and she did not disappoint. The transcription of Art Tatum’s take on “Tea for Two” did not quite swing, but the fingerwork was exquisite. Opposed to that American breeziness was the “Precipitato” finale of Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No. 7, a bloodcurdling evocation of the diabolical music of machine guns and bombs. Both pieces were stunning.