Yuja Wang: ‘If the music is beautiful and sensual, why not dress to fit’?

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The Chinese piano prodigy takes no captives. She hugs Brahms and Beethoven as frantically as she defends her right to wear what she likes

There are two Yuja Wangs. Or so you are able to anticipate. One is the young Chinese pianist whose virtuosity and melodic intelligence home her in the top echelon of musicians. The other is an elfin, spiky-haired fashionista courted by Armani and Rolex, who has a zany humor and happies in appearing before concert gatherings in itsy bitsy garments and five-inch ends. This split identity is not of her fashioning. Young classical craftsmen are slackening up, but Wang is on another level of visual and aural adventure that still takes parties aback.

I want to relate all life to music, she suggests, cross-legged on a sofa in a borrowed Paris apartment home is New York gaping soothe, serious and somewhat sleepy. Garmented in tight-cropped yoga throbs and scrawny vest she inspects no different to the people thronging the Left Bank outside in the sunlight.

Im interested in looking good, but fad carries me as much as checking for updates on my phone, she suggests with a yawn, downing an espresso. Rather than following textbook behaviour and doing what classical musicians have always done She stops mid-sentence to influence her conceives, then chortles explosively. This is all theoretical bullshit! I need to sleep first. I feel like a zombie.

Wang was in Florence the night before, out late having a few alcohols. Her current European tour floods more than a dozen metropolis, including London, where she utters her Royal Festival Hall solo-recital entry in the International Piano Series on 11 April. The programme contained in two monumental works: Chopins 24 Preludes and Brahmss Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel. Schubert is also on the schedule.

Nah. Ive scrapped Schubert. How can I know two years onward what Im going to play at 8p m in this hall in this city? Im still exploring range. I just say some random composer calls Doesnt that disturbed gatherings? Yes. No. They get more encores! For Wang, encores are integral , not add-ons. Its when I detect free, I move more, I improvise. The rest of the time she is upright, symmetrical, like a dancer or gymnast. She doesnt was acknowledged by doing exercise Run? Ive never run in “peoples lives” but learned extends from her dancer baby. She taught me good posture. My papa, a percussionist, sorted out timing and rhythm.

Her head is still in Florence. Yesterday, I was in a church dressed as I am now, having a little quiet spiritual instant to myself. Then this boy taps me on the shoulder and suggests Im being insolent to Jesus. Did she embraced herself up? No channel. I dont know if he understood what I said to him. But I guess everyone knows the F-word.

Born in Beijing, an only progeny Of trend. Im Chinese! Wang started the piano aged six and held her first concert less than a year later. Was she instantly recognised as a geniu? Yeah, I guess so. At 14 she left China, alone and not wording any English, and went to study first in Canada then to the Curtis Institute of Music, in Philadelphia. She has lived in the US since.

It was right for me. I am independent-minded, self-reliant. With the draft guidelines of various types of mentors, including the pianists Leon Fleisher and Gary Graffman, she submerge herself in the great European piano knowledge. Her superstars are Kempff, Schnabel, Horowitz, Maurizio Pollini and Evgeny Kissin. When, in 2007, Martha Argerich cancelled a concerto date, Wang stepped in and went her big break.

Yuja
Im still exploring range Wang. Photo: Kirk Edwards

Russian repertoire is core to her programme music she often listened as small children, when her baby danced specially Tchaikovsky, whose Piano Concert No 1 she will play in London in next month with Romes Orchestra of Santa Cecilia, conducted by Antonio Pappano. I adore Pappano. So intense. So impassioned and sex. And such a brilliant pianist himself! She has no reverential feeling for debating music , no anxiety about alleging or doing the right thing.

Im Chinese, she suggests. We dont do guilts. We do zen. She once told a Chinese Tv presenter that she wanted to study Taoism. He expressed surprise that a young woman should be tackling this hard thinking. Hed even listened she had spoken Goethes Faust. Its maybe because Im an Aquarius, is accessible to everything, she responded with a glamour smile, offering a riposte as cleverly banal as the question deserved. Shes quite fierce.

Last year, Wang generated a stir by touring the titanic Hammerklavier sonata. I recollected, OK, you want Beethoven? whose music she hadnt much represented Ill give you Beethoven! Now shes sacrificing us Chopins Prologues: short-lived, intense fragments played in a repetition previous around 45 hours. She has the Ballades, the Mazurkas and more in her range or on disc, but this is a first. The Preludes are like Chinese calligraphy: the hardest personas to draw are the ones that ogle simplest.

Brahms is her recent fury. In my 20 s, I recollected Brahms was square. She soured 30 in February. My favourite right now is the IntermezziOp 117, No 3 in C sharp-worded minor. Oh my God, I adore it! She could be talking shoes, which she also cherishes. With Brahms, you need to feel sanded, as if the strength comes up from your feet and the keyboard becomes an extension of your hands. Richter, I feel, used to say he represented from his thighs Richter extended his in baggy trousers; Wangs are often bare and uncovered. A profile in the New Yorkerreferred to her extremely short and tight garments that journey up as she plays, or clinging backless night-robes that grant an impression of near-nakedness.

The next day at her Paris concert, she changed after the lull from a amber gown into a tiny turn of shimmering dark-green. Each was beautiful, and at the least from row Q completely nice. Likened to a female tennis participate she gazed positively overdressed. What affixes most in the mind is the poetry and comprehension in her its implementation of the Chopin Preludes.

If a beautiful male pianist wears tight throbs, Im not going to think, Whats in those throbs? Genuinely not, Yuja? Hoots of laugh. OK, maybe. But if the music is beautiful and sensual, why not garment to fit? Its about strength and persuasion. Perhaps its a little sadomasochistic of me. But if Im going to get naked with my music, I may as well be comfortable while Im at it.

Read more: https :// www.theguardian.com/ music/ 2017/ apr/ 09/ yuja-wang-piano-interview-fiona-maddocks-royal-festival-hall

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