Yuja Wang ardently resuscitates SF Symphony in Rachmaninoff concert

“Wang debuted like a shot of espresso. She donned a sizzling bedazzled red romper and glittering Louboutin stilettos. Style and spectacle are basically Wang’s calling cards, and her outfit radiated fearlessness and ferocity.

Rachmaninoff’s third piano concerto, like all concertos, unfolds in three parts. “Allegro ma non tanto,“ the first section, begins deceptively straightforward as the pianist introduces a simple diatonic melody. As the section and concerto progress, however, the piano part becomes increasingly complicated. The sheer difficulty of this piece, in its severe technical demands, precludes many pianists from performing it. But Wang is not known to shy from a challenge.

Wang played with the kind of intense virtuosity that felt like she was beating Rachmaninoff to the punch. Her touch was precise and resonant throughout the concerto, and her fingers moved with the quick dexterity of a hummingbird. During her featured solo in the first section, she thundered through the rapid, sweeping chord progressions with a fury a la Zeus throwing his thunderbolts. The wild cadenza in the “Intermezzo,” another moment of high drama, affirmed her peerless gift to play with both infinite stamina and evocative artistry.

The symphony’s performances “Tumblebird Contrails” and “Nyx” were enjoyable — interesting and experimental, but ultimately safe. But as soon as Wang came on stage, even though the stage was crowded with diligent musicians, it proved impossible to look anywhere other than the piano. In her ruby romper, Wang glittered like starlight. She never appeared fatigued, but instead seemed energized by the rigor of Rachmaninoff, which made the explosive “Finale” all the more cathartic.”

The Daily Californian