Yuja Wang: I listen to Rihanna, before and after

Yuja Wang: I listen to Rihanna, before and after


norman lebrecht

February 27, 2018

The pianist has given a promo interview to her program annotator, avoiding the more contentious aspects of her public persona. Amid the soft questions, her essential naivety shines through.

‘Maybe I’m shallow,’ she says at one point.

She listens to a pop singer, before and after giving a recital, ‘to calm myself down’.

Read here.



  • RW2013 says:

    One of my local orchestras offers a Live Act and a DJ after the Duruflé Requiem!

  • ANON says:

    Her interviews are useless. She regularly talks rubbish in them and leaves the impression that she never takes her interviewers seriously. She said last year she is going to play Goldberg Variations in her recitals this year, and of course it turns out that is not what she is going to play.

    • Hilary says:

      Her spoken interviews aren’t useless though….very charismatic, and brimming with infectious enthusiasm.
      Basically, a joy to behold.
      In purely written form I concede she fares less well, but she’s a pianist not a musicologist.
      Looking forward to her upcoming Barbican recital.

      • ANON says:

        She is often deliberately bullshitting in her interviews. She used to be more serious circa 2010, but that is no longer true. She also seems to have developed a different persona in English than in Chinese. It’s quite interesting.

      • Steve says:


  • Anton Bruckner says:

    Yuja Wang appeared in Tel Aviv last week with the IPO under Kyril Petrenko. Her technique in Prokofiev piano concerto no. 3. Impeccable technique but some lack of chemistry with the conductor meant it was all about technique. I must say that while I like the idea of shaking the conservative classical music world, her dress code at the Tel Aviv concert was too extreme and does not seem to contribute anything to her stature as an artist. But the interesting part was that despite excellent playing by the IPO, Petrenko seemed to be too engaged in the tiny/petty details of Stravinsky’s Petrushka at the expense of the overall architecture of the work which resulted in a “dragged” and boring performance.

  • Steve says:

    I enjoyed her interview, and certainly don’t find her shallow. Although her language is lively it is also concise, compact and she doesn’t waste words. And very much like her playing she gets straight to the point:
    really interesting is what she says about the Russian composers (~’rock music’); something like ‘unlike Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Bach (~’lecture’)….she is not sure about how much you get back in terms of growth/self-realization, although she loves to play them very much.
    I’ve also heard that about Rachmaninov: it’s like a delicious rich cream cake, tastes great but somehow not good for you…

  • Mark says:

    I met her once – the impression one gets is that of a giggling and not terribly sophisticated teenager. But there is also something almost mechanical about her, it almost seems as if she is going through the motions of presenting this persona to the world …

  • Geoff says:

    This interview is from 2013 so it’s not even news.

  • Charles Proctor says:

    To Anton Ben Bruckner.
    Enjoy the flesh and leave Petrenko. He is a great conductor who merits better solists!

    • HSY says:

      I feel so sorry for Petrenko who picked a soloist that doesn’t deserve him. I feel even sorrier for YW who still has to play this concerto at least another five times with him…

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Why do people need to talk so much? Being a word class musician doesn’t mean one is a world class talker.
    Cerebral musicians who have or had interesting things to say, like Alfred Brendel or Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, are rather the exception. Even Carlos Kleiber’s comments on record were infused with character and immensely entertaining, but not necessarily intellectually stimulating (sorry Sue).
    What I also find interesting is when old musicians share experiences from a bygone era.