Yuja Wang

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Belle
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Yuja Wang

Post by Belle » Mon Apr 23, 2018 1:42 am

There's something deeply unsatisfying about this performance of the "Hammerklavier" and I can't quite put my finger on it - particularly the last movement:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAwRRLDpBVM

And I'm very unhappy with this performance of "Kreisleriana". The opening sections are blurred, lacking rhythmic clarity and she's throwing the tempi about indiscriminately. What do you think?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5FayGAxTf0

maestrob
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Re: Yuja Wang

Post by maestrob » Mon Apr 23, 2018 1:44 pm

Hi, Belle.:)

I tend to agree with you about the Beethoven. There's a lack of musical tension, although her tone is quite beautiful, and she has the notes down pat, but there's no depth of feeling to her playing. I'll listen to the Schumann tomorrow when I have time and let you know about that as well.

Rach3
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Re: Yuja Wang

Post by Rach3 » Tue Apr 24, 2018 7:32 am

i was able to hear the recital in real time. Agree with Belle, unsatisfying in both works. I suppose one can admire a youngster for taking on "Hammerklavier" live, rather than waiting until age 50 , but if so need to be careful to conduct yourself in a manner that suggests the performance is more about the music than you.

maestrob
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Re: Yuja Wang

Post by maestrob » Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:30 pm

Just listened to the Kreisleriana. Agree that it's below standard, and yes, some passages were a bit blurry. I'd give it a C for mediocre if I were in the grading business.

Disappointing. I've liked her Prokofiev in the past on CD, but she's not ready for the German repertoire yet, which take more humanity, IMHO. Good technique is only the starting point in this repertoire, and she seems to lack depth so far.

For comparison, I recommend Boris Giltburg, whose CDs can be found on amazon. He's about the same age, but with clarity, refinement and depth to match.

Holden Fourth
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Re: Yuja Wang

Post by Holden Fourth » Tue Apr 24, 2018 4:49 pm

Is Yuja Wang just another example of the new breed of highly technically proficient 'wunderkind' who have very little musical 'soul' (for want of a better word but I hope you know what I mean)? Is she representative of the current group of young piano prodigies who have dutifully done the rounds of the competition circuit, secured a recording contract and then play nothing of real significance or depth? Is her Op 106 performance (I agree it's terrible) not up to scratch because she (like Lang Lang and others) have no concept of how to play the classic German repertoire?

I suspect that this is the case for her and most of her generation. They have nothing new to say because they playing in a prescribed manner. It was what they were taught to do because the competition circuit seems to demand it nowadays. I watch them on Youtube, hear them on Spotify and after one or two listening sessions dismiss the idea of ever getting one of their recordings.

Thankfully there are exceptions to this rule and the one that stands out for me is Benjamin Grosvenor!

Lance
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Re: Yuja Wang

Post by Lance » Tue Apr 24, 2018 4:59 pm

Could not agree with you more! Grosvenor is a standout. While I have recordings of Yuja Wang (and she gets great pianos to perform/record on!), it is only for me so far her technical capabilities in virtuoso-type works that is well done. Otherwise, like Lang Lang, I find little other magic in her interpretations. Indeed, technically superior, but music is much more than this as we all know.
Holden Fourth wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 4:49 pm
Is Yuja Wang just another example of the new breed of highly technically proficient 'wunderkind' who have very little musical 'soul' (for want of a better word but I hope you know what I mean)? Is she representative of the current group of young piano prodigies who have dutifully done the rounds of the competition circuit, secured a recording contract and then play nothing of real significance or depth? Is her Op 106 performance (I agree it's terrible) not up to scratch because she (like Lang Lang and others) have no concept of how to play the classic German repertoire?

I suspect that this is the case for her and most of her generation. They have nothing new to say because they playing in a prescribed manner. It was what they were taught to do because the competition circuit seems to demand it nowadays. I watch them on Youtube, hear them on Spotify and after one or two listening sessions dismiss the idea of ever getting one of their recordings.

Thankfully there are exceptions to this rule and the one that stands out for me is Benjamin Grosvenor!
Lance G. Hill
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Rach3
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Re: Yuja Wang

Post by Rach3 » Wed Apr 25, 2018 7:35 am

Holden Fourth wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 4:49 pm
Is she representative of the current group of young piano prodigies who have dutifully done the rounds of the competition circuit, secured a recording contract and then play nothing of real significance or depth?

Agree with you about Grosvenor. Hard to know what drives the youngsters. Check me, but I believe Wang participated in just a few competitions, perhaps before she went to Curtis. Giltburg participated in MANY competitions for many years.

Belle
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Re: Yuja Wang

Post by Belle » Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:01 am

This is the phenomenal Wang at 9 years of age, after only having learned the piano for 3 years. Note the poise and maturity:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuDuIenxY1I

She now has a staggering repertoire and I can't help feeling that this is part of the problem; that and the fact that audiences want to be dazzled. My husband and I looked at this Debussy performance and some of her virtuosic encores and I observed that this is what it must have been like for Liszt in his day; the same pressures to be a pianistic athlete, if not aesthete. He grew tired of that life, as we all know.

Yuja Wang is a spectacular technician but she could do with some masterclasses, IMO, in order to understand that virtuosity isn't an end in itself.

Belle
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Re: Yuja Wang

Post by Belle » Wed Apr 25, 2018 6:32 pm

I've been thinking a bit more about this pianist and her prodigious talent and the fact that 20 million Chinese children are reportedly studying a musical instrument - mainly the piano. That's what I've heard, but I cannot say whether that is correct. And 20 million is a tiny fraction of the Chinese population.

The role of music in education is obviously strong in China, as it once was in western countries. But, really, how many children are going to be influenced by a musical education to the extent that they become interested in western classical music? I'd be curious to know the percentage outcomes, either in the west or in China. This information probably isn't available. But I wonder if part of the reason countries like Australia have dropped serious music from the broader education curriculum is mainly because students just didn't respond. It's a disenchanting idea, but I do wonder about the truth of it. The reason I raise this question is because a prodigious talent like Yuja Wang ought not necessarily convince us that music education is any more successful in gaining audiences in China than it is in our western nations, where young people are distracted by so many other things. Once I was optimistic about this Chinese surge, but I am no longer so inclined.

And the older I become the more I tend to think that musical appreciation has much to do with temperament and inclination. For example, at the local level, growing up in a household of 4 females (of which I am the eldest) I am the only one who has taken a very deep interest in music, and did so from a very early age under my mother's tutelage. My sisters and I are all only 18 months apart from each other in age, so my mother was busy - but my interest was aroused immediately. Why? (We are all university educated to post-graduate level and this still hasn't made a difference for my other sisters' musical appreciation.) In the case of my two grandchildren (the others are not in our lives as they live thousands of km away in Perth), the boy, 8, will listen to and watch anything musical I show him on U-Tube but the daughter, 6, reveals a much shorter attention span and will wander away after about 10 minutes. I've tried ballet performances on U-Tube with her and the outcome is the same; she wanders away, but her brother does not. But the boy reacts differently from the girl, which I've closely observed. He is shy about his interest and she is the opposite about her disinterest. When they come here I've often got music going on my hi-fi.

What do people think about the role of temperament, attention span and these kinds of things in the successful nurturing of a love for the arts in general and music in particular and what (if anything) can be done to mitigate early indifference? Again, I wonder if this doesn't happen in schools all the time. In my case I'm trying to make a difference with my own grandchildren.

Yuga Wang is a role model in China, but how much of that translates to a lifelong connection of people to classical music beyond the piano?

As a postscript I'd add that, from my experience as a high school teacher, students in the comprehensive state system have largely lost interest in participation in sports!!

Rach3
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Re: Yuja Wang

Post by Rach3 » Wed Apr 25, 2018 7:10 pm

Belle wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 6:32 pm
What do people think about the role of temperament, attention span and these kinds of things in the successful nurturing of a love for the arts in general and music in particular and what (if anything) can be done to mitigate early indifference?
Possible anti-nurturing factors are : the rise and prevalence of video media vs. the audio -only recording media when we were young children ( I am 70 ) ; reaction against " my parents music " ; total lack of encouragement and support in much of the educational and governmental systems ; peer pressure ; the thought that attaching any value to intellectual effort and achievement above the lowest common denominators is an elitist endeavor ; emotional and mental laziness in a society that wants instant feedback/gratification negating any chance a Classical musical work of any significant length will get a hearing. Others, of course.

Belle
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Re: Yuja Wang

Post by Belle » Wed Apr 25, 2018 7:34 pm

I see those as powerful anti-appreciation agents, to be sure, but most of these things do not explain what happened in my own family - growing up in the 1950s without any of those factors you mention. A musical mother, a home of music education and 3 out of 4 disengaged children. One has shown an interest in recent years (she's a published poet) but I often sense it's because she feels this is something culturally desirable rather than anything else.

This is where I get back to temperament and it's something that has occurred to me only in very recent years; in my case I never succumbed to peer pressure of any kind but all of my sisters DID. In my late teens sharing apartments in Sydney I was put under considerable pressure from my housemates to 'turn down that rubbish' whenever I attempted to listen to my music. I cannot remember any occasion at all when somebody said to me "that sounds nice; what is it"? Serious music was something you did 'in the closet' and others have spoken to me in those terms since.

Perhaps I should try teaching my grandson the piano (though we don't see him regularly each week because he has other activities and there are court orders as to custodial arrangments). If my grand-daughter sees him learning she might take more of an interest. Any and all ideas welcome!!

Writing about this has helped me think about the problem more clearly. Professor Jordan Peterson says that writing and speaking are the ways that we learn to think and I'm a great believer in that.

Rach3
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Re: Yuja Wang

Post by Rach3 » Thu Apr 26, 2018 8:38 am

Belle wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 7:34 pm

Perhaps I should try teaching my grandson the piano (though we don't see him regularly each week because he has other activities and there are court orders as to custodial arrangments). If my grand-daughter sees him learning she might take more of an interest.
Both my sons played instruments in school ; then gave them up, are not followers of Classical music, despite hearing CM , and my CM piano playing, a lot while growing up.

Not everyone likes broccoli, or red wine, of course, even though good for you. I dont care for most Bruckner.

But for CM, more broadly, in addition to the factors previously mentioned, CM perhaps viewed as irrelevant; " modern music, eg. Schoenberg, " being perceived as often atonal, unintelligible ; tonal music, eg.Beethoven, perceived as " old music" not speaking to current life ; whereas popular genres speak simply and directly to current angst ; popular listeners, in effect, told how to think and feel without having to make much intellectual and emotional effort themselves , and invest the time, to learn about themselves, a learning process CM nurtures and rewards. Blame the pace of modern life, coupled with a "dumbing down" misplaced egalitarianism vs. "elitist" CM, too ? Perhaps if youngsters would realize arts appreciation, while requiring " work",will reward them permanently in life, as they already know getting good grades in school will so reward them, more so than the " rewards " of listening to the latest pop hit ?

Belle
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Re: Yuja Wang

Post by Belle » Thu Apr 26, 2018 9:11 pm

Great comments, but depressing to realize the extent of antipathy to a musical education. That would explain why it has dropped from school curricula.

maestrob
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Re: Yuja Wang

Post by maestrob » Fri Apr 27, 2018 9:56 am

Belle wrote:
Thu Apr 26, 2018 9:11 pm
Great comments, but depressing to realize the extent of antipathy to a musical education. That would explain why it has dropped from school curricula.
The good news is that Carnegie Hall is now reaching out to public schools in the Metro NY area. We have friends in New Jersey whose son (one of two) just sang in a chorus in Carnegie recently. He sings in school plays, and therefore was recommended by his music teacher into a program from Carnegie that (for $300) evaluated his voice, gave him at least one professional voice lesson (which by itself would cost over $150 in our area), and allowed him to sing in performance in the main hall (Stern Auditorium) with hundreds of other kids from surrounding schools.

So, there is yet hope.

Belle
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Re: Yuja Wang

Post by Belle » Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:40 pm

This is excellent news and what the major arts organisation should be doing, all the time!! :D

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