Woman at her keyboard

Out here in blogdom, where classical music is definitely a minority taste, what everyone seems to remember about Yuja Wang is That Orange Dress. I mentioned, not long afterward, that I was perplexed by offerings of her recordings: her label, Deutsche Grammophon, is asking top dollar, but the downloads they vend are at least technically superior to those offered elsewhere.

Then last night, I was busy snagging A Very She & Him Christmas (on sale!) from Amazon when their Robot Suggester told me that I could get Wang’s 2009 Sonatas & Études for a mere $7.98. I jumped. The timing seemed odd, but then it occurred to me that the first sonata in the set is Chopin’s No. 2 in B-flat minor, the third movement of which is the famous “Marche funèbre,” a useful piece of music to have on hand around Halloween.

Buying the download got me only a tiny square of artwork, which is to be expected. And since it doesn’t scale upward very well, I clipped this photo (by Chen Chii-quan) from a Taiwanese news site:

Yuja Wang

A little more modest, but no less lovely.

What’s on the album, besides the Chopin: two études by Ligeti, Scriabin’s “Sonata-Fantasy” in G-sharp minor, and the Liszt Sonata in B minor. Obviously she’s not going for the “easy” stuff.



  1. canadienne »

    29 October 2011 · 5:15 pm

    Well, referring to your earlier post about the advantages of being better looking, I can see that looking hot in a tiny dress encourages more dudes to download your tracks than say, Glenn Gould’s.

  2. CGHill »

    29 October 2011 · 5:35 pm

    Then again, if she weren’t any good at what she does, it wouldn’t matter so much what she looked like.

    I suppose there were those who were drawn to Glenn Gould because of his tendency to hum, or resonate, or whatever the heck he was doing while he was playing. I’ll admit here to snapping up a couple of Gary Graffman discs after reading about the nerve damage in his right arm. (And to bring this full circle: Yuja Wang was a student of Graffman’s.)

  3. canadienne »

    29 October 2011 · 6:07 pm

    Just a lame attempt to tease you a tiny bit.

    Of course a Canadian of a certain age would have to think of Glenn Gould. He was a very odd man, but you have to admit he rocked that Bach. I think I read somewhere that his mother originally taught him to hum or sing while he was playing. I suspect it was a recording engineers nightmare.

  4. Tatyana »

    29 October 2011 · 6:18 pm

    …if she weren’t any good at what she does, it wouldn’t matter so much what she looked like.

    Then again, if we had 3 classical pianists, one of them Glen Gould, who are equally good at what they do and one of them would have an unblemished skin which she’d not mind to display, like the present exhibit – whom do you think “the dudes” would more likely download?

  5. Charles Pergiel »

    29 October 2011 · 6:47 pm

    I dunno, all these people playing classical music, they are copy cats. They are “covering” the tune. I prefer the originals, in my case, the versions I originally heard on the Top 40 radio stations. So: Chopin playing Chopin, or nuthin’.

  6. Guy S »

    29 October 2011 · 6:56 pm

    Or to quote PDQ Bach, “Let’s get Bach to basics!”

  7. CGHill »

    29 October 2011 · 7:00 pm

    There are a few piano rolls cut by major composers that eventually were played back on proper equipment — I have a couple by Rachmaninoff, and some others have found their way to YouTube — but so-called “reproducing” pianos really didn’t exist until the very end of the 19th century, so Chopin, having died 50 years earlier, didn’t get an opportunity to cut any rolls of his own.

    Of course, if I need to look at Yuja Wang playing, I’ll send for the DVD of her 2009 performance at Lucerne with Abbado conducting, not least because she’s playing the Prokofiev Third, which was and is my favorite piano concerto. (I’ve gone through vinyl, cassette and CD versions of Ashkenazy’s recording with Previn conducting.)

  8. Don »

    29 October 2011 · 7:23 pm

    About Glenn Gould’s humming: it’s no laughing matter.

  9. canadienne »

    30 October 2011 · 11:31 am

    Don, thanks for the link. He was humming an independent contrapuntal part? I will have to do some more reading about Mr. Gould.

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