Yuja Wang is indisputably one of the world’s best pianists. Her musicianship pairs an ironclad technique with a searing passion. Her fashion sense is famous, too. Nobody on the concert platform today rocks stiletto heels like Yuja Wang!
We checked Youtube to see which of her performances there are currently the most popular. Here they are with our commentary for your enjoyment, with the most viewed last:
5. Rachmaninoff: Prelude in G Minor, Op. 23, No. 5
3.2 million views
Part of a live recital performance recorded for Deutsche Gramophone, this Rachmaninoff performance showcases Yuja Wang’s trademark spunk and pizzazz. She generates a thrilling sound in the base notes that makes the entire piano boom and resonate. And when the militaristic opening gives way to the moody, dreamy contrasting theme at 1:20, it’s impossible not to be swept away. The prelude ends with a Yuja Wang trademark – small, quiet, playful, delicate notes that sound like little winks to the audience.
4. Rimsky-Korsakov: Flight of the Bumblebee
Unknown date and location
3.5 million views
The uploader didn’t include information in the video description about where this performance was filmed, but it was uploaded to Youtube on June 26, 2010.
This Yuja Wang performance of Flight of the Bumblebee is madness in the best possible way. From beginning to end, it sounds like superhuman. And yet in the speedy cascading flurries of notes, a listener can still hear the carefully considered voices inside the texture, along with an unreal articulation. This performance also ends with a wink to the audience in the form of a few delicate notes, contrasting with the mind-bending virtuosity we’ve just witnessed. What an electrifying performance.
3. Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1
Helsinki, September 7, 2012
4.7 million views
With this performance, Yuja Wang takes on one of the great piano warhorses. Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto always threatens to sound stale, but from those famous opening chords, we know we’re in great hands with an artist who has a clear conception of what she wants to say with the work. Despite the boomy extroversion of the concerto’s opening, she also approaches the concerto with a real sense of its melancholy intimacy: a side to the score that isn’t always brought out. The shimmery finesse of the passage starting at 20:40 is divine.
This video also features some cool and unusual shots, including an overhead view of the piano.
2. Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue
Istanbul, June 15, 2019
4.7 million views
One channel capitalized on the interest in Yuja Wang’s wardrobe by titling this cellphone video “Yuja Wang: ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ in skimpy black shorts and high heels.” It’s such a shame, because this performance shouldn’t be reduced to what she’s wearing. Even though it appears to be shot from the back of an auditorium, meaning the sound quality isn’t great, its catalytic energy is contagious. It also proves what an incredible technician she is live.
1. Rimsky-Korsakov: Flight of the Bumblebee
Verbier, July 29, 2008
8.3 million views
Drumroll… Yuja Wang’s most popular performance on Youtube is yet another version of Flight of the Bumblebee! This performance is just as jaw-dropping as the earlier one on our list, featuring the same speed and superhuman control. (How can anyone move their hands this fast?) Even so, I think my favorite part is those closing notes and the awed laughter from the audience.
Taken all together, these performances clearly prove that Yuja Wang is not just a technical wizard: she’s a first-class artist, too.
For more of the best in classical music, sign up for our E-Newsletter