For once, it’s not what Yuja’s wearing

For once, it’s not what Yuja’s wearing


norman lebrecht

October 08, 2017

It’s what Jean-Yves Thibaudet pulls on over his trademark red socks.

The red soles are the giveaway.

Fashionistas identify them as Louboutins.



We’re talking $1,000+ a pair.

And the jacket’s a toned-down Liberace tribute number.


  • Petros Linardos says:

    Any information about the music?

  • NN says:

    Certainly not. This blog is about yellow press style gossip… Much easier to talk about clothes rathen than have a substantial opinion about music.

    • Anon says:

      well, in due fairness. Much easier to gossip about style and trivia, than talking about music. Quite impossible to talk about music anyway. Because if we could talk about it, it would not exist in the first place, duh!

      • John Borstlap says:

        That is not quite true: we can talk AROUND it as to remove opinions which we think are wrong, and to replace them with opinions of ourselves which we deem much better, until someone else comes-up with another opinion which forces us to go back to the music itself, which may open-up a new way of listening which provides new opinions to throw into the pool of misunderstandings.

  • Rgiarola says:

    They are both eccentric, but I still think they both got a hint of real inspiration. So I can give a shit to all bullshit outside music.

    It is something I cannot do, for example, concerning Lang Lang and Dudamel…. Blargh. There is no soul beyound the bars…

    • M2N2K says:

      It seems to me that your way of measuring the amount of “soul” is rather faulty and needs significant improvement.

  • Augie says:

    When one reads an article about a concert pianist’s footwear, one expects a photo of the footwear.

    • Bruce says:

      You must be new here if you expect that level of journalism.

      • norman lebrecht says:

        You must be tired of commenting on Slipped Disc if that’s all you can say.

      • Buxtehude says:

        The bow is bent and drawn, Ben, make from the shaft.

        As to Yuja, she is stu-pend-ous! Just discovered her, where have I been?! Also: I’ve never seen hands that are so exciting to watch, as in for example her Gershwin concerto on YT. Would the lens had lingered on them all piece long.

        • Petros Linardos says:

          For beautiful female pianist hands try also Valentina Lisitsa.

          But do beautiful hands matter musically? I can think of other pianists, of both genders, whose hands are less pretty to watch but who are by no means musically or technically inferior to Wang or Lisitsa.

          • buxtehude says:

            Excellent point Petros. Richter thought that showing hands to a camera was showing nothing but “work” — he was tending at the end to the idea of performing in the dark.

            And as to your main point, with Wang, as I experience her, sometimes the mind behind those hands casts its spell and oftentimes it doesn’t. I wouldn’t rule her out yet — as compared to say Argerich or Zimerman in her orchestral Chopin she’s far from them yet can make sounds they don’t. In my lonely opinion she at least deserves respect.

          • Cyril Blair says:

            Valentina Lisitsa has giant manhands. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just strange to hear them referred to as “beautiful female pianist hands.”

          • Petros Linardos says:

            @Buxtehude: I have huge respect for Wang and hope very much that she will get better with age. But she’s already great.

            You made rethink my argument on Lisitsa’s hands. So I checked out a bit of this:

            Yes, they are big. Irrelevant. I find the way they move sexy, and I am a heterosexual male. This is a purely visual appraisal, though I also find the above clip musically fantastic.

            I also find Josef Hofmanns hands incredible, technically and visually (though not sexy to me!). Check 2:00 in

            Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Ungeheuer says:

    Can’t understand why J-YT remains on the scene. Such a frivolous and unimportant pianist. Saw him once in recital years ago and promised myself never again. He is in good company with the likes of Lang Lang and Yuja Wang.

    • Thibaudet Fan says:

      I beg to differ. I have sat in an orch. accompanying Thibaudet as I have with hundreds of other well known pianists and I can tell you from my perspective, he is truly one of the best.

      He has a power and sense of command about his performances which set him above the rest. His level of experience and complete ease playing with an orch. is something very special, a quality that makes him very easy and rewarding to accompany. His playing is elegant, polished and I enjoy his strong, decisive musical interpretations.

    • boringfileclerk says:

      Are you saying that J-Yt’s Ravel and Debussy are ‘frivolous’? What of his Saint Saens? I sense jealousy here. Take some time and revisit his musical work, and his sense of fashion. You may learn a thing or two about both. He’s the real deal, and has been for quite some time.

      As for Yang? I find her lacking any depth, and is only now beginning to think in musical terms. Better late than never I guess. In a few years I’ll revisit her work and hear if she has anything worth saying.

  • George Marcus says:

    You said it!

  • Bruce says:

    It has never been about what Yuja’s wearing.

    • Anon says:

      I can second that. I have been sitting in her recitals, and for reasons I couldn’t figure out myself, older gentlemen left and right had their opera binoculars out and were watching something. It was a piano recital. I suppose they were trying to figure out, which edition of sheet music she was playing.

      • Another Anon says:

        “for reasons I couldn’t figure out myself”

        What is so difficult to figure out? It’s very simple: men have very poor impulse control.

      • John Borstlap says:

        When I go to a Yuja recital, I always sit with my back towards the platform. It is physically uncomfortable but musically very rewarding, and worth the endurance of indignation quietly expressed by the people on the neighbouring seats.

        • Victor Trahan says:

          Great idea, but it all depends where you are sitting. There are great pianists out there who focus on the music and don’t feel the need to expose themselves and distract viewers needlessly with skimpy clothing or bright socks or whatever. If people care to attend her concerts, fine. Those who don’t like her or her music simply stay home.

          • M2N2K says:

            She, on the other hand, is a brilliant pianist who believes that she can give the best performance when she feels good about the way she looks, and I personally see nothing wrong about that, though we can of course disagree with her taste in choosing her attire. Fortunately, her musical taste is usually very convincing which to me is much more important in a musician.

  • Ben says:

    She looks like an escort.

    P.S. I am sure all of you who keep sayings “who care about her attire, it’s music that matters” must be frantic repeat patrons of this restaurant chain:

  • herrera says:

    When did it become the uniform of classical musicians to wear black and white?

    In no other time in history, except beginning in the late 19th century, did musicians settle for two monochromatic colors as their de rigeur uniform.

    Even in church, musicians did not wear black and white, maybe just at funerals.

    Wang and Thibaudet are exceptions only if we ignore all of history. Put another way, everyone else today is the outlier, historically speaking.

    It speaks of the collective psychosis of the classical music world to believe that classical music must be played wearing black and white.

    • Brian says:

      It’s true that classical music is stuck in a Victorian time warp with regard to its concert attire. What other art form has this built-in uniform, and one that’s so rooted in the distant past?

      That being said, I wonder about the ethical implications of spending $1000 on any article of clothing when there are people in developing countries forced to live on pennies a day.

    • Sue says:

      I guess they’re all just signalling their chosen identity group. It’s fashionable, so get with the program.

    • John Borstlap says:

      The custom for classical musicians of wearing black and white has the same function as the islamic burka: it makes the person wearing it, disappear into anonimity. A concert is NOT about the performers but about the music. That under the black jackets also some white is to be seen, is due to the necessity to provide some visual clue to the conductor who otherwise would be left in the dark. When female players began to infiltrate symphony orchestras, they gradually began to show some more colour, but eventually they had to succumb to conformity. Only female soloists could break away from the dark because they are out of sight of the conductor.

      It is an open secret that JYT’s colourful socks are supposed to distract from his peculiar left-hand fingerings in Ravel, of which some attentive agents had complained in the past.

      • buxtehude says:

        Maybe the bigger reason is that female soloists can write their own ticket, and care about their attire alot. Look at some of the Monteverdi Choir posts, where Gardiner has everyone else under tight control.

        It’s age-inappropriate dress that’s really distracting, in this video age where nothing can be hid. Or the shape. Check out Karina Gauvin’s sublime Pie Jesu in this wonderful Requiem, Laurence Equilbey conductor

        • Pink Tulip says:

          What on earth do you mean by “age-inappropriate”? People of any age can wear whatever they like.

          • buxtehude says:

            They can and do.

          • buxtehude says:

            As to your actual question, if it really must be asked: Argerich dressed as Yuja Wang, that would be age-inappropriate. At least to me. As in, it would be a distraction. To me.

  • George Marcus says:

    Dear Ungeheuer,You forgot Maestro Dudamel for completeness of today’s international musical circus show.

  • Mark Henriksen says:

    I think that she should perform in lingerie, before its too late.