Yuja Wang in London

Yuja Wang at the Festival Hall
Yuja Wang at the Festival Hall tonight must count as one of the most irritating and frustrating performances I have ever heard.
Having booked some time ago to hear her performance of Beethoven`s Hammerklavier sonata that I had been so impressed with on the video recording some years ago from Carnegie Hall.
Somewhat disappointed that it had been substituted for Chopin 24 Preludes.
However that was just the beginning of the extraordinary experience of Yuja Wang live.
Entering the hall was now a notice that the Schubert Drei Klavierstucke had disappeared and the programme would consist of only two works : Chopin 24 Preludes interval and Brahms Handel variations.
A sold out hall waited patiently for our diva who after about ten minutes slinked on to the stage in a clinging long grey evening gown and proceeded to play the twenty four preludes.
At least that what I assumed she was doing as it was practically inaudible not only at the back of the hall but friends told me even at the front.
Once ones ears became accustomed one could appreciate a streamlined musicality with of course some beautiful things.
The faster Preludes rattled off at breakneck speed and the faster they were the louder the volume.
No real sense of architectural shaping of this delicate much loved masterpiece.
We got instead a series of episodes sometimes even exquisite but for the most part with no real projection at all.
A very long interval and even longer wait for our diva before she arrived looking a million dollars, as they say, in a long sparkly green creation.
And continued her procession of little episodes but this time with Brahms monumental work .
A work of almost orchestral proportions that is a continual evolution of the innocent little Handel melody leading inevitably to the triumphant grandiose explosion of the theme in all its glory.
This in turn leads inevitably to an out pouring of energy that has been generated in a continual rhythmic and tonal crescendo.
This energy is only relieved in the massive fugue that brings this great work to its glorious and inevitable conclusion.
Instead we got a series of sometimes pretty sounds reduced to music box proportions and some other variations rattled off so fast that no real characterisation was attempted or even possible.
The most alarming thing was the lack of any real rhythmic pulse and the way she teased and reduced to episodic even the fugue was ridiculous and unforgivable.
I left as fast as I could and noticed on the screen in the foyer that she had sat down to play an encore.
The steward try as he could turning the volume up to 100% nothing could be heard.
Not surprised I quipped we have just sat through an entire concert like that.
Amazed now to see that she is to play Tchaikovsky 1 with Pappano in Rome soon and Brahms 2 at the Barbican in June.
Or she was ill this evening and just did not feel like playing or she was playing the diva and like the actors sometimes do at school performances saving themselves and their voices for more important occasions.
Or she is a fine pianist just being exploited by the publicity machine.
I should be very interested to hear what comes across with a Brahms or Tchaikovsky concerto but imagine she will just change the programme with the same nonchalance that she has demonstrated this evening .
I think I have heard her now (at least I think I have) once too often.


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