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Yuja Wang triumphs in Magnus Lindberg’s new piano concerto with the San Francisco Symphony – Seen and Heard Worldwide


United States Varied: Yuja Wang (piano), San Francisco Symphony / Esa-Pekka Salonen (conductor). Davies Symphony Corridor, San Francisco, 15.10.2022. (HS)

Esa-Pekka Salonen, Magnus Lindberg, Yuja Wang, San Francisco Symphony © Kristen Loken

Nielsen – Overture, Helios
Magnus Lindberg – Piano Concerto No.3 (San Francisco Symphony fee, world premiere]
Bartók – Concerto for Orchestra

Let’s stipulate that Yuja Wang can play any music you place in entrance of her. In terms of approach, it’s onerous to seek out anybody who can surpass her, and he or she has the facility to make 88 keys articulate essentially the most elegant interpretations as effectively.

Composer Magnus Lindberg, who wrote his earlier piano concerto for Yefim Bronfman, upped the already excessive diploma of issue to suit Wang’s immense skills in his Piano Concerto No.3. It obtained its world premiere this week by Wang and the San Francisco Symphony below Lindberg’s fellow Finn and highschool buddy, Esa-Pekka Salonen.

On Saturday, within the piece’s third efficiency, Wang wrestled the sheer pianistic athleticism required for this music to the bottom, executing crushing waves of tone clusters and complicated trills on a number of notes at a time with out breaking a sweat. All of the whereas, Lindberg’s orchestra powered by a thundering herd of pounding rhythms and dissonant assaults.

The piece began off quietly at first, a couple of unison threads and energetic legatos from the low strings, however fairly quickly the entire orchestra was in full roar. At instances the piano was a part of the cacophony, made compelling by thrashing rhythms. Most of its 25 minutes have been loud, however Lindberg usually left area for the piano to emerge unimpeded. The music had form.

Wang and Salonen locking eyes © Kristen Locken

There have been contrasts. The second motion was paying homage to Ravel, with some welcome lyrical moments from the piano and softer harmonies. Now and again, we really heard a triad, startling within the circumstances amid the bustle and the pounding rhythms.

If the music’s type had construction, it was not straightforward to discern on first listening to. Apart from the fast-slow-fast plan to the three actions, it usually felt extra like a fantasia than a ‘regular’ concerto. Perhaps that was the purpose. It simply saved driving ahead. Just a few massive gestures from the primary motion (or one thing very like them) confirmed up once more because the finale revved up for a giant, crashing coda.

The climactic end introduced the viewers to its toes. Erupting in wild cheers, they might not stop even when the home lights got here up for intermission. After the third curtain name, Wang shrugged, bowed as soon as extra and slid onto the piano bench for an eye-opening efficiency of Philip Glass’s intricate Etude No.6, which additionally begins with a give attention to a couple of notes and builds to a crashing climax. She didn’t depart the stage earlier than providing a second encore, the Vivace finale of Prokofiev’s Sonata No.7, with its personal roar of driving rhythms and pianistic energy.

After the intermission, Salonen led the orchestra in a blinding efficiency of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. The piece begins with a really quiet unison within the basses, then once more from the cellos, resulting in grand gestures from the orchestra. The brass punctuations and broad chords performed towards contrasting materials, which gave the massive moments further punch.

The heroes of the Bartók have been the brass gamers, who discovered wealthy and different sonorities for his or her starring roles. In crisp assaults and hymn-like chorales, the sound was nothing wanting magnificent. The woodwinds displayed welcome individuality of their music, and the strings certain all of it along with spectacular legato enjoying and an actual sense of rhythm within the quicker components.

Starting with principal percussionist Jacob Nissly’s insinuating tom-tom rhythms, solos and duets within the scherzo bounced across the orchestra as if on a single string. Salonen coaxed a rainbow of colours from the assorted episodes, all of the whereas pushing the beat ever so barely, which prompt a refreshing sense of improvisation.

Danish composer Carl Nielsen’s tone poem, the Helios Overture, made an apt opening piece. Its early twentieth-century Romantic fashion, rooted in Scandinavian soil like Lindberg’s, contrasted with the piano concerto’s thornier twenty-first-century doings. Just like the Bartók, it featured notable fanfares and chorales from the brass because it portrayed an excellent dawn and a barely extra subdued sundown.

San Francisco audiences haven’t heard a number of Nielsen since Herbert Blomstedt’s tenure as music director, which led to 1995. If Salonen desires, extra can be welcome.

Harvey Steiman

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