Yuja Wang Shakes It Up at Davies and Wins

“Yuja Wang turned Davies Hall into her own deluxe dice cup Sunday night, shook it hard, and let the numbers fall where they would. It will surprise no one who has ever heard this stunningly gifted pianist that she cleaned up and left everyone at the bar gaping at her game. But on this particular night, the always combustive Wang had more surprises than usual in store. […]

The inspiration of casting off with Ravel’s Une barque sur l’océan (A boat on the ocean), from Miroirs, was confirmed in the transparent liquidity, the surges and retreats, and dramatic tidal pull Wang conveyed through every measure.

Technique both dazzles and disappears in this artist’s hands. The mists of mingled chords and sudden lucidity in the separation of the left- and right-hand subjects served a clear-eyed purpose. Wang took the audience out into the deep of Ravel’s ocean-going journey with phrasing now lulling, now insistent, now shimmering. The dynamic shifts were supple and fresh. It was a marvel of immersive but always discriminating pianism.

One of two Scriabin sonatas (No. 4) came next, opening in a musing haze that gave way to rhythmic outbursts, pulsing chords, and a near maniacal climax. Federico Mompou’s poignant and pellucid miniature Secreto, from that Catalan composer’s Impresiones intimas (Intimate expressions), calmed the storm with its quietly ascendant open intervals in the bass and a tender melodic meander floating above.

A closer juxtaposition came in the burbling, pristinely ornamented C-major Andante by Baldassare Galuppi followed by Bach’s expansive Toccata in C Minor. Wang, best if perhaps reductively known for her 20th-century fireworks, proved her Baroque bona fides and then some in the Bach. Exquisitely voiced, the Toccata unrolled in a seamless stream of absorbing episodes, fast and grandly slow, fugal and rooted in eloquent counterpoint. The rhythms pulsed and breathed with a sense of forward momentum and inevitability. It was as if Wang had entered the mind of Bach and read every intention, inhabited every ripple and fold of his genius.”

San Francisco Classical Voice