In keeping with my ongoing obsession with classical music phenomenon Yuja Wang, here are a couple pieces she's been known to play as encores after her main performance.
I've been exposed to classical music pretty much my entire life and just recently have gotten more into it. But I have never seen anyone, from Vladimir Horowitz to Murray Perahia, play like this young woman.
These are two fairly short pieces. The first is the "Tritsch-Tratsch Polka" by Johann Strauss, which he must have composed just for kicks. If someone had described this piece of music before I had actually heard it, I probably wouldn't have believed them. Along with The Polka is the Prokofiev Toccata in D minor, which is somewhat more believable. But it's fun just to watch the expression on the faces of the musicians in the orchestra, as their minds are fairly blown by what they're witnessing.
Yes, encores are often chosen by the artist on the basis of the sheer inhuman pyrotechnics necessary to perform the piece, so as to end a program with a "wow" and a bang. They are not necessarily chosen because they are prime examples of the composer's ability to transform and raise human consciousness, as some of their other compositions might be.
But the "wows" are sometimes the best way to grab a listener's attention.
One does try to understand how Yuja pulls off this kind of spontaneity (especially with a piece of music almost 200 years old) and at the same time be able to draw the audience in with a sense of genuine awe and wonder. In interviews she says she tries to perform the work as if it were being composed at that very moment. I'm not sure exactly what this means, but just by the look on her face, you can tell she is totally in the moment, trying to do as much as possible to extract whatever there is from whatever she happens to be playing. It probably also helps to be born a musical genius, who has worked her butt off since the age of about five.
As for the rest of us, I just think it's important to, periodically, be reminded of the best that the human mind and spirit has been able to accomplish over the ages....
(Article changed on October 24, 2020 at 14:34)
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