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So I had a conversation with Yuja Wang yesterday... (Read 5350 times)

Offline theholygideons

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So I had a conversation with Yuja Wang yesterday...
« on: February 13, 2014, 08:56:18 AM »
So i was on some webchat featuring Yuja Wang last night, so I'm like 'yo, what sort of obscure composers do you enjoy listening to, godowsky, Alkan, Medtner? and she's like, 'yeah bro, love medtner'. I start thinking, 'dayum gal, we could have something going on between us'  :P. So we start having this small talk and everything's going fine,

until...

this person renews the topic of Alkan again. 'Hey, what's your impression of Mr Alkan?'.
Her response, along the lines of ' that guy... pshh, too many notes, his music is superficial and lacks meaningful emotion'. *facepalm*. too many notes? no substance? GIRL, YOU SERIOUS?  >:( :o >:(, HOW COULD YOU DISMISS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ROMANTIC COMPOSERS? you play all these supervirtuosic cziffra and horowitz transcriptions, overloaded with arpeggios and octaves. You're telling me that Alkan's symphonie/concerto/sonata for solo piano have less musicality or emotional substance than the encore pieces you play!!! Marc Andre Hamelin would kill you for saying that!! there goes the end of our relationship.


So yeah... there's an account of our short-lived encounter. 


Offline mjames

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Re: So I had a conversation with Yuja Wang yesterday...
«Reply #1 on: February 13, 2014, 09:11:39 AM »
This was on Classic FM right? I was reading some of her comments too.

She said something like "lots of notes without musical substance, not my cup of tea (since I'm in England)".

To be honest, Alkan's not my cup of tea either. He sounds too dry, just way too freaking dry and boring. Maybe that's just because of the performers (I'm looking at you Hamelin). I'm not saying i dislike everything by Alkan, I like several opuses out of like 74 opuses. I'd say the best way to understand and love a composer is to actually play his works, but they're all pretty impossible for me. I've been looking at some easier Alkan pieces I can try later on this year, but I have to go through a crapload of Liadov before I attempt that.

Offline theholygideons

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Re: So I had a conversation with Yuja Wang yesterday...
«Reply #2 on: February 13, 2014, 09:24:37 AM »
I agree, Alkan isn't for the faint-hearted since his most important works are in the form of etudes. However, to deride a composer because of the style and form of his compositions makes me mad. It's almost as if she hasn't invested much time in studying his works and just gives him the boot. Her comment could be interpreted as rather presumptuous and aloof. 

Offline mjames

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Re: So I had a conversation with Yuja Wang yesterday...
«Reply #3 on: February 13, 2014, 09:44:23 AM »
I wouldn't call myself (or Yuja for that matter lol) faint-hearted. Some composers just don't click with others; different people like different things. Although I do agree that she should have worded it better. A "He's not my thing, or I don't like his music" would be more preferable to an insult towards the composer's work.

Offline theholygideons

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Re: So I had a conversation with Yuja Wang yesterday...
«Reply #4 on: February 13, 2014, 10:41:30 AM »
Saying what she said, especially as a person who is so well-known around the world, just further risks jeopardizing the fate of obscure composers like Alkan.

Offline ronde_des_sylphes

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Re: So I had a conversation with Yuja Wang yesterday...
«Reply #5 on: February 13, 2014, 11:04:18 AM »
I think the Symphonie is an absolute masterpiece, and very clever writing to boot. Some Alkan IS a little dry, and there is some notespinning, but that's like saying some Liszt is disposable (which some certainly is), then dismissing him based on that. Trouble is, some "notespinning" is not notespinning per se, it's a textural device.

Offline theholygideons

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Re: So I had a conversation with Yuja Wang yesterday...
«Reply #6 on: February 13, 2014, 11:16:01 AM »
I don't understand why people comment on Alkan's writing as being too dry. Perhaps it's from being exposed to comme le vent or le chemin de fer early on, these perpetuum mobile works with constant streams of notes. The first pieces I ever listened to were Allegro barbaro and his concerto for solo piano, which i found to be quite sonorous and potent works. It really just takes one great performance to change one's view around.

Offline ronde_des_sylphes

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Re: So I had a conversation with Yuja Wang yesterday...
«Reply #7 on: February 13, 2014, 11:20:33 AM »
Possibly because it's "romantic era" and they expect big gestures a la Liszt or Chopin. Alkan's not like that though, he's antistereotypical of the period. More of a throwback to classicism crossbred with a combination of all the advances in technique and sound capacity of the newer pianos.

Offline theholygideons

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Re: So I had a conversation with Yuja Wang yesterday...
«Reply #8 on: February 13, 2014, 11:39:42 AM »
Possibly because it's "romantic era" and they expect big gestures a la Liszt or Chopin. Alkan's not like that though, he's antistereotypical of the period. More of a throwback to classicism crossbred with a combination of all the advances in technique and sound capacity of the newer pianos.
I guess his phrases are rather symmetrical and standard length. I don't think Alkan could ever match Chopin or Liszt in terms of harmonic variety, but was unique in his exploration of sound and sonority itself. If you were to play his pieces at a slow tempo, they wouldn't appear much special, but at their proper speeds with appropriate use of pedaling, the notes and the harmonies they create blend together and create either fluid moving melodies, or dense torrents of sound.

Offline ignaceii

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Re: So I had a conversation with Yuja Wang yesterday...
«Reply #9 on: February 21, 2014, 07:14:29 PM »
She is on the cover of pianiste magazine. Attention she gets loads of them, as her fellow kamikaze Lang.
I'm getting bored of these circus people to the point I would close the lid of my piano. Lang of course gives masterclasses although it should be the other way round, because he stared more in the Royal College of Music hall than listening. And they make him ambassador of the Leeds comp., my God.
Has she really listened carefully to Alkan ? I doubt it. The star on high heels has spoken that's it. You know she thought of the 2nd pianoconcerto of shostakovitch to be too easy.!!!!!  Nothing in music can be too easy. Does she know Schnabel's quote on Mozart. No of course. Schiff in 1 of his superb masterclasses states that you cannot play anything in Beethoven as being easy, for sure, you know.
And Madame yuyu has lots to learn, that's for sure, not in the least on humility and gratefulness for our classical patrimonium. If not, I would send her back to China doing commercials, yuyu in shorts, Lang Lang long trousers.
And her prok 2, listen to Vinnitskaja, Queen Elisabeth 1 st price. Then you know. Chinese, much selfish show little contents, because they don't have the culture.