Back

Now Yuja Wang comes out in her undies

December 1, 2017 by norman lebrecht

111 comments.


Yuja Wang came out to play Prokofiev’s 5th last night with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington.

One of our readers in the audience gives this description of her outfit: ‘all black, pantyhose, over-the-knee high heel boots, black bra and black very little and very tight shorts that look more like panties.’

Anne Midgette writes in the Washington Post: ‘The piano soloist was Yuja Wang, a brilliant artist who is fond of provoking conservative audiences with skimpy concert attire, and who on Thursday appeared to have forgotten her dress altogether and looked as if she were playing in her underwear.’

 


Photo: Scott Suchman/NSO

You kinda wonder why.


Comments (111)

  1. David says:

    Most importantly, how did she play?

    1. Respect says:

      Reviews locally say she played brilliantly. No surprise, it’s her kind of piece. Probably left the clothes off so she could do the leaps freely.

  2. RW2013 says:

    Difficult (but wonderful) concerto no matter what you’re wearing.

      1. Sue says:

        I guess she feels she can’t do it, though, fully dressed. It’s her schtick and I’m predicting she’s ‘trying it on’ with ever more outrageous livery; watch that space!!

        An exhibitionist in the old style.

        1. Olassus says:

          One day a concertmaster who, like his colleagues, has carefully put on his white tie and tails to honor tradition will say: “Just a moment, Ms. Wang. This is our concert. We dress as we do for a reason. You are our guest. Please respect our format and your fellow musicians. Return backstage and rethink your attire. We can wait. Otherwise I will lead everyone out of here and you can play solo.”

          1. HSY says:

            Ridiculous. If that is what some concertmasters want, surely they and their colleagues should demand their management to write dress codes into contracts for guest soloists to sign. Otherwise it would be extremely unprofessional for the concertmaster to refuse to play just because he/she doesn’t like the soloist’s attire.

        2. rg says:

          Yuja Wang is a good pianist, and the way she dresses on stage is her schtick. It expands her bank account but diminishes her as an artist.

  3. ANON says:

    I hope there will be a radio broadcast of the concert.

    1. 2hot2Handel says:

      let’s hope there’s a telly one 😉

      1. ANON says:

        Luckily for you, there will be a video stream of her playing the same concerto next year with WDR SO and Hrůša.

  4. Ungeheuer says:

    Her dress-down routine is getting pretty tired and old, no? She is a gifted pianist no doubt and I, for one, will refrain from attending her appearances until such a day when the parade ends. FWIW. It’s not sexism since I did the same with Jean-Yves Thibaudet eons ago the second I spotted the rainbow socks and Liberace-glitter jackets. It helped his playing meant nothing.

    1. Sue says:

      Yes, I feel the same way. It’s cheap.

      1. Michael Pulcinella says:

        Stay home prudes. More seats for those of us who aren’t scandalized by a bit of thigh and who can appreciate physical beauty along with technical and artist ability.

        Yuja is the rare classical performer who combines the highest musicianship with real beauty and sexuality.

        Sorry you can handle but y’all need to get over it.

    2. La-Di-Da says:

      And yet: it is talked about her!!! And that is all what it is about here.
      She is an ingenious pianist , and , as far as I am concerned, she can wear her undies, so long she playes as she does! And she DOES look gordious! So- good for her and everyone!

      1. John Borstlap says:

        I don’t find this a crazy comment, but of coure I may be mistaken.

  5. Mark Henriksen says:

    Definitely would like a front row seat for this one.

      1. Stephen says:

        I’d love to have been there! Hope is eternal.

  6. Eric Broomfield says:

    Good for her, look how much publicity she gets. In this world of noise she carries through. She plays the hell out of the piano in a world where there are many fine players and no way to stand out. Heard the same kind of stuff about Ann Sofi Mutter. Love her playing.

    1. steven holloway says:

      There were many, and still are some, who “stand out” in virtue of their supreme artistry. If you need to get attention by appearing semi-naked, either you know your artistry is limited (as is the repertoire for which Yuja Wang is known) or you have a suspicion it is, a deep-seated lack of confidence in the depth and breadth of your abilities. Mind you, judging by some of the comments here, her strategy for getting attention for all the wrong reasons works — she’s turned herself into a sex object, and that is sad.

      1. Luk Vaes says:

        “… limited (as is the repertoire for which Yuja Wang is known)…”

        Really? You don’t know her Beethoven, Scriabin, Brahms, Stravinsky, Messiaen, Schumann, Liszt, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Mozart, Ravel,… in solo, concerto, chamber music?

        1. Janos Gereben says:

          And that’s just a small portion of her enormous repertoire.

          Don’t confuse your objection to her appearance (which, obviously, is her business) with not knowing or hearing her artistry.

        2. Minnie says:

          …….”limited … SHE IS NOTHING BUT BRILLIANT! And those ones who write negative whatever about her ARE ……. IDIOTS !

        3. Mario chiacchio says:

          I agree with you ! She is a great pianist and have a huge repertory !

  7. John Borstlap says:

    This seems to be a slow & long ongoing process of unveiling, and considering the only estimation where the trajectory will end, at that point she will no longer have anything to leave behind in the soloist room.

    1. Sue says:

      Excellent comment. And isn’t it interesting to watch her gradually disrobe in that age of sexual finger-wagging.

    2. Petros Linardos says:

      The late Friedrich Gulda beat Yuja to that race, though with dim lighting.

  8. Robert Holmén says:

    But what does she do when she reaches the age when no one wants to see that much of her?

    1. John Borstlap says:

      Probably, then she will shock audiences with outrageous long dresses, capes, hats with feathers etc. as long as there is noboby else who dresses comparaby (including Thibaudet)..

      1. anmarie says:

        And leading a peacock on a leash.

    2. Brian says:

      She’s already 30 – can’t be too many more years of the skimpy outfits left.

      Worth mentioning again, her outfits are still fairly conservative by the standards of many popular female musicians today (Kesha, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, etc.). It’s just that classical musicians tend to be out of step with the times in sartorial matters.

  9. NNelton says:

    She (or her management) is smart enough to know that her playing isn’t particularly interesting or special, so she does what she can to stay in the spotlight. The only downside is how long can she keep it up?

    1. Ilkka Tammisola says:

      Do you really think that topmost conductors like Abbado, Rattle, Van Zweden, Pappano, Salonen, Oramo, Gergiev, Tilson Thomas, Dutoit, Noseda, Petrenko etc. etc. ask her as a soloist for their orchestras tours or concerts from year to year based on how she is dressed?

      Yuja was just a soloist for the Berliner Philharmoniker on their Asian tour and next March she is soloist for the New York Philharmonics in Beijing and Tokyo. Prior to that, she will play chamber music with top violinist Leonidas Kavakos at the European tour and the European Chamber Orchestra´s European Tour, too. Recently, she was the soloist of The Mahler Chamber Orchestra on their European tour. On 30 October I heard them in Helsinki, where Yuja played Beethoven´s 2nd Piano Concerto dressed in the same way as at the present concert in Washington DC. Yuja got praiseworthy reviews and dress was ignored in passing.

      Yuja Wang plays over 120 concerts a year around the world.Is all this possible in your opinion because of the fact that she sometimes is dressed in a way that violates traditional classical dress code? I think that the only reason is Yuja Wang´s musical genius. Unfortunately, this Genius has not yet opened up to all classical music friends whose attention is drawn to the external music aspects But I think they also have hope, because Yuja is only 30 years old.

  10. boringfileclerk says:

    She didn’t play in her undies. It’s what the kids in the know are wearing. It’s just an outfit best suited for her when she was younger. It’s okay to age with grace, and let your dress evolve appropriately with it.

    Her playing still leaves me cold although she’s come a long way over the years. Still waiting for her her play something that isn’t just all flash and trash. She thinks that she’s Cziffra reincarnate, but there could only be one Cziffra, and he had plenty to say!

    1. Furzwängler says:

      Agree with you 100% about Cziffra.

    2. Mikey says:

      are you implying that Prokoviev’s 5th Piano Concerto is “flash and trash”?

      1. boringfileclerk says:

        The way she goes about playing it, yes. Richter she’s not.

        1. buxtehude says:

          Unfair, BFC. Really now. Who around here is Richter? Who out there? Nobody, that’s who.

  11. Zelda Macnamara says:

    It seems to me that there are a couple of quite sexist comments here. Why can’t you boys grow up? I have never heard this young woman, but if she plays well, there is no need to imply that you would want to leer at her. If she’s sufficiently immature to want to be deliberately provocative, it’s best to ignore the display and focus on the music.

    1. BachFan says:

      Right you are!

  12. buxtehude says:

    Yeah. Close your eyes and think about England.

  13. Pedro says:

    Wang played ( and conducted! ) Beethoven’s piano conceri 1 and 2 three weeks ago in Eindhoven with the MCO. Excellent concert. As an encore, she gave us a splendid Grande Polonaise Brillante ( without the Andante Spianato, hélas! ). She is a great artist indeed.

  14. Bruce says:

    I don’t understand why anyone cares what a performer wears. As commenters are so fond of saying, the attire doesn’t make a difference one way or the other; so why pay attention to it (even if NL puts up things like this to get clicks)?

    1. J. says:

      The comment of the year. Thank you.

  15. Shane says:

    She played very well, and dressed like a whore. HONESTLY!

    1. David Boxwell says:

      The boots were four figure Louboutins, so she’s certainly not a CHEAP whore.

      1. Tenorlove says:

        Classical music’s answer to Cardi B.

  16. Sandy Schur says:

    A great artist is a great artist is a great artist,
    If she continues to perform well ,she will”outgrow” the attire!

  17. Pedro says:

    Here goes Norman again looking for comrnents in safe fields. First Thielemann, now Wang. I bet the next one will be Mirga. Or Karajan. Four great artists IMHO.

  18. buxtehude says:

    Maybe just maybe Yuja Wang is being herself on stage theses days. She says somewhere that early in her career she complained about feeling uncomfortable on stage, to some senior figure who laughed right back in her face: “Feeling uncomfortable on stage is what you’re paid for! Get used to it.”

    Perhaps now that she’s found her inner exhibitionist she feels a little freer, enjoys more. Personally? I prefer that performers pay no attention to dress, hair &c, and don’t glitter. Hecker. Argerich. But it’s such a small thing.

    Any prudes out there, please read that closing paragraphs of this, from Barbara Bonney in happier days:

    https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2001/jan/24/artsfeatures1

    1. Sue says:

      Oh right, we’re going to listen to “The Guardian”!! Sheesh.

  19. Victor Trahan says:

    If the first thing that people always ask about a Wang concert is ‘What was she wearing?’, and not ‘What will she be playing?’, that speaks volumes. Does she first attract or seduce the audience by her attire, and is that what she wishes people to focus on while she walks on stage and poses at the piano ? She has the right to wear whatever she wants on stage and that’s what people will first notice. But I hate having to stare at bare skin and skimpy attire throughout a concert and try to focus on the music, however well it may be played. Perhaps, as someone has noted, a radio broadcast would be the best solution to end the debate. I’m afraid the jury is still out on this one.

    1. Fan says:

      What “people” are you talking about? It’s just you and your kind.

    2. Jeff Fields says:

      Dude, nobody is forcing you to stare. That’s on you. 🙂

    3. Paukener says:

      Sounds to me like you may be the one with the problem.

  20. Jaustin says:

    To answer the question, “Why?” Because she can. Welcome to the 21st C.

  21. Peter Tarsio says:

    One of theseach days she will appear without a top on and play topless and then of course I would think that she is doing this maintain her ratings and the music goes on despite her scant appearance which we know is her choice in how she wants to appear, but in time as she ages this might not be to her benefit. Only time will tell and of course she plays with such verve that all of this ostentatious display seems superfluous and part of the act.

  22. Janne Seppänen says:

    I couldn’t care less what any given performer wears, as long as the music (and hopefully, but not always, the performane as well) is good. That being said, I often find Yuja’s outfits pretty cool!

    People have too much time in their hands if something like this makes them feel uneasy. I must also say that I’m pretty fed up with this website’s continued reporting on topics like this. Why on earth should I care – why is someone’s outfit ‘news’?

    1. J. says:

      Clicks, clicks, clicks. One must earn his cash.

    2. Sue says:

      You did ‘waste’ the time writing that, though, didn’t you!!

  23. Stuard Young says:

    Why?…..because she can. And maybe, because this piece of news generates dozens of comments, while others generate just a few.

  24. Tony Jahn says:

    Everything in the musical arts has become increasingly visual, catering to our jaded senses.
    The “interpreter” ( of the music, the composer’s intent) has , sadly, been replaced by the sensory spectacle of the “performer”. You can close your eyes, or bring your binoculars- your choice.

    1. Antonia says:

      Yes, just as opera stars must now be slender, and voices are not nearly as great as they used to be because the heavier singers are shunted aside….Smaller pool of “eligible singers”…Fewer truly great voices.

      Sad.

    2. Tenorlove says:

      Correct. And eventually, we could possibly see her with blonde or cotton-candy streaks in her hair. In the meantime, she is laughing at the comments, all the way to the bank, and secretly (or not) worshipping Norman for all the free publicity she’s gotten. Ultimately, she’s in the entertainment business, just like the Kardashians are. And she’s found a way to guarantee sold out shows.

  25. Cyril Blair says:

    She has said before (last year’s New Yorker interview comes to mind) that she doesn’t feel as comfortable or as inspired playing in certain clothes, and maybe doesn’t perform as well in certain clothes. About a pink dress that was girly and feminine but not all that sexy: “Because of that dress, the little pink one, because it’s so different from everything I’ve ever worn, I didn’t really feel myself, and maybe that came through.”

    She is obviously choosing clothes based on what makes her feel most like herself, and when she feels good, like herself, she plays better. Why should she deviate from that?

    1. Sue says:

      My own theory is that Yuja Wang uses fashion as a means of liberating herself from the repression of her country of birth and its authoritarian culture, China.

      1. Nick says:

        That theory is utter nonsense! She has lived in North America since she was 11 and spent her formative years there. She dresses as she wishes to dress. That does not take away from the fact that she is one of the most stunning pianists of our day. Don’t like her clothes? Don’t go to her concerts – pure and simple.

      2. Fan says:

        By your logic, USA will be the most repressive country as there are so many people find it necessary to liberate themselves.

        1. Trump says:

          This miss Wang is GREAT…. a truly great American performer… does not matter what she plays. We have the BEST Chinese… always had…and she knows what the public wants. I want to attend such a concert… All these prudes, they don’t know about GREAT culture… Sad.

  26. HSY says:

    How tall is Yuja Wang? Judging by the picture Norman posted here, it looks to me she would need pedal extenders without her super high heels… Or she has to sit lower and change her posture while playing.

    1. Max Grimm says:

      “How tall is Yuja Wang?”

      Not very tall, somewhere around 1,60m I’d say. I saw her (not wearing high heels) standing next to Yannick Nézet-Séguin and he was taller…

  27. Anon says:

    If she were wicked smart she would give one interview, stating her attire being a feminist statement. Immediately no criticism anymore. 😉
    But maybe she is just honest and herself, not that calculating…

  28. esfir ross says:

    Sarah Alice Ott’s Yuja rival in shoking outfit-play barefoot. But superior expressive musician.

  29. Furzwängler says:

    You know, it strikes me that Wang could select her attire to reflect the music she’s playing. For instance, for Ravel’s water sprite Ondine she could wear a long flowing white diaphanous robe; for Beethoven’s Pastorale Sonata she could wear a country maid’s outfit (or perhaps even a Bavarian Dirndl); in Liszt’s Czardas Macabre something entirely in black, with Goth makeup; and so on.

    What a shame that the Dance of the Seven Veils isn’t a piano piece. Surely her performance of that on the piano would be truly amazing. Perhaps she’ll write a piano transcription, who knows?

    1. Fan says:

      That’s one of the most original comments on the topic so far.

    2. Petros Linardos says:

      There is a 1905 piano roll of Strauss himself playing a transcription of Salome’s Dance of the Seven Veils.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGa5qi-kBSE

  30. Dominique says:

    Two questions immediately spring to my mind:
    1. There is a certain dress code expected from the audiences. If you have to show up in more or less formal evening dress at the concert at the major venue, how do you feel about the soloist being at the same time half naked?
    2. If we consider that following Yuja‘s trend, some male perfomers would follow her fashion and perform a piano concerto in a black tank top and wear a shorts, how would we feel about it? And also, should they shave or not shave their legs?

  31. Stephen says:

    A lot of people here have severe hang-ups if they can’t enjoy the sight of a beautiful woman in her pre-birthday suit.

    1. Petros Linardos says:

      To me at the beach a naked woman looks more dignified than one who is dressed like a slut. But the concert hall is not a beach.

  32. harold braun says:

    as long as Mirga doesn´t appear in her undies…..well,nothing to see here…LOL

    1. Petros Linardos says:

      Shh, Mirga can do no wrong.

  33. Brian from Washington says:

    If the President of the U.S. read the Washington Post, perhaps he would skip the golf course and make a beeline for the Kennedy Center to catch Wang’s final performance there this weekend.

    Critics and pundits who moan the death of classical music should be thrilled that Wang can sell out the National Symphony’s monthly Friday noon-time concert like she did this week. The normally sleepy audience of seniors gasped when she walked on stage and then exploded in applause and shouts after her performance of the Prokofiev, as did the orchestra. Good for her!

  34. Tenorlove says:

    Who does she think she is, Ariana Grande?

  35. Loki says:

    I just love it how a bunch of old geezers here refer to this scrawny flat-nosed Asian miget as a “beautiful woman”. Desperate for female company much ?

  36. Fan says:

    LOKI’s comment of “scrawny flat-nosed Asian miget” brings the conversation to a whole new level. But I guess this is what Mr. Lebrecht intended. One sees two kinds in the so-called “classical music” lovers: old geezers, and riffraff.

    LOKI SAYS:
    December 2, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    I just love it how a bunch of old geezers here refer to this scrawny flat-nosed Asian miget as a “beautiful woman”. Desperate for female company much ?

  37. David Boxwell says:

    I was there and the people loved her. Two young dudebros next to me leaned over the side of the balcony and watched her like cartoon wolves for the entire 25 minutes. They didn’t come for the Rach Symphonic Dances.

  38. Elvira says:

    Decency is a big deal..
    Provocative dressing does not harmonize with the divine music a musician is called to perform.
    Sunset Boulevard?

    1. Antonia says:

      After hearing [the allegation] that James Levine has sexually molested a teenage boy, I’m no longer unfortunately considering our music “divine”.

      It’s just another form of sensual music, albeit far more complex than others. Performed by the same people capable of good and horrific evil as the next people, even those on Sunset Boulevard.

      What a total, total shame. I feel as though my sense of this music being “exalted” is completely torn down. Also, reading at this website about harassment in the profession in general. There is a great deal of this. God may inhabit the music, but not the people.

  39. YujaFan In Virginia says:

    She’s a beautiful woman and an extremely gifted pianist.
    I suppose some would be happier were she to hide herself in a burka or burlap bag.
    But that’s not who she is.
    Jealous women, insecure men: you all have your axe to grind. No one cares.
    Leave her alone.

    1. TERRY DEAL BAER says:

      AMEN !!!!!

  40. Bennett Melzak says:

    Yuja Wang actually is a very good musician, both live and on recordings, as solo artist, concerto performer, or in chamber music. Perhaps, this type of “dressing up” makes concert life more enjoyable, or even fun for her.
    Why judge her on this, she is an attractive young woman and is not harming anyone.

  41. Steve says:

    The people criticize this gifted musician are just jealous…

  42. Me says:

    She’s perfect and what she wears is her own decision as it is for every woman and every performer or should be. As to height she seems just over 5ft tall and needs those heels for healthy alignment and form playing pre made pianos.

  43. Ron Kongslie says:

    Yuja….Thank goodness there is a Yuja!! She brightens up the World!

    1. TERRY DEAL BAER says:

      ABSOLUTELY !!!!!

  44. TERRY DEAL BAER says:

    THIS REVIEWER AND ANYONE WHO AGREES WITH HER IS A TOTAL DUMB ASS…

    …TO BE PRESENT AT A PERFORMANCE BY THE GREATEST PIANIST IN HISTORY IS TO EXPERIENCE THE TOTALITY OF THE “YUJA EFFECT” IN ALL IT’S GLORY !!!!!

  45. CM says:

    So what? Besides… Those are not undies. And even if they were, why care…?

  46. Sam says:

    Provokiev!
    Very fitting…

  47. richard says:

    The problem is, she doesn’t really have the figure for it, right?? .. does she?!
    Am I the little boy pointing at the (almost) nude piano player here or a kind of reversal of that…pointing out she has a good body for radio. right?!

    1. buxtehude says:

      I can’t tell if you’re a little boy or not RICHARD, but you do seem an acolyte of Hugh Hefner, maybe his reincarnation. Super-looking female figures come in many shapes & sizes.

      This has really got disgusting; I expect the controversy is to her benefit though.

  48. Peter primavera says:

    I came from nyc to see the Saturday performance. I think Yuja is the piano genius of her generation, and seen her perform in NYC several time. At NSO she was bored, disengaged. After well with that orchestra and that conductor who can blame her. She probably ran to the Acela. The audience was stiff, no the least bit effusive, like the orchestra. Don’t count on seeing her with NOD anytime soon, she is accustomed to world class venues, orchestras, conductors, and audiences…and none of the were there last night.

    1. Peter primavera says:

      Sorry for all the typos

  49. Victor Trahan says:

    ENOUGH ENOUGH ENOUGH already. Two camps are bitterly opposed and will never agree. Give it a rest.

    Let’s focus on more important matters, please.

    1. ANON says:

      Your comment makes no sense unless you meant to say Yuja Wang is a prostitute by profession.

  50. Will Duffay says:

    Grubby old pervs and stuffy reactionaries should stop concentrating on how she looks and focus on how she plays.

  51. Who cares how she’s dressed…???? She is young, beautiful and fascinating ! Yuja Wang is the measure of all things in the entire world of classical pianists. Nobody can reach her incomprehensible technical perfection and her phenomenal expressiveness and stage presence…. nobody !!!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *