Yuja Wang © Kirk Edwards (Ausschnitt)
With her virtuosity is as breathtaking as her appearance, Yuja Wang never leaves anyone cold. Plain concert dress in dark, decent colours is a thing of the past. Yuja Wang is a modern young woman and stages her performances as a sort of Gesamtkunstwerk. Each dress she chooses seems somehow to match exactly the work she is performing that evening, as if it were almost an extension of Skrjabin’s idea of a colour piano.
If the music is beautiful and sensual, why not dress to fit?», asks the young pianist. She seems to take in her stride the criticisms in prudish America and sexist reactions on Facebook. «That’s just how I dress. I also wear short skirts when I’m not on stage. That’s just how I am. Classical music speaks for itself – but somehow audiences pay attention to the superficial. The comments say more about the people making them, rather than about me or music.»
At the age of 30, New York-based Yuja Wang has already a lot to show for herself artistically. Numerous awards -- including the ECHO Klassik for Newcomer in 2011 and named Artist of the Year 2017 by Musical America, as well as a string of impressive recordings – have accompanied her international rise. Born in Beijing in 1987 to a dancer mother and percussionist father, she took her first piano lessons at the age of six, and has learned to be earnest. «My Chinese childhood is an important foundation My lessons at home were very discplined, in close relatonship to my teacher, but also to other people, to my friends. That was very important for me. That gives my playing more personality, more character», she says.
At the age of 12, she first travelled to the summer school in Calgary and moved there at the age of 14. A year later, she changed to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. In liberal America, where everyone has to fend for themselves, she developed her spontaneity and her explosive temperament. And combined with her Chinese roots, this was what has made her unmistakeable.
The focus of Wang’s piano playing is in the extremely virtuosic repertoire of the 19th and 20th centuries. And that is what she will be playing in the featured portrait series in the Wiener Konzerthaus: Prokofiev and Richard Strauss, and Ravel’s Concerto for the Left Hand, and Schumann’s Piano Concerto. Her chamber music duo with Leonidas Kavakos promises to be a very special evening, since the violinist is regarded as one of the musical and accomplished violin virtuosos.
The sparks are bound to fly when she performs with Martin Grubinger and his Percussive Planet Ensemble, as well as in the evening with Igudesmann & Joo, when Yuja Wang will also prove her talent as a singer and an actor. And she will definitely have very special ideas about how she will dress there, too.