Seven encores for Yuja Wang at Carnegie Hall

Seven encores for Yuja Wang at Carnegie Hall


norman lebrecht

May 18, 2018

After cancelling much of her US tour, the pianist roared back last night in inimitable form.

Rachmaninov, Scriabin, Prokofiev, Ligeti.

Then seven encores.

No short measure.



  • Alexander says:

    you forgot to say something on her dress ( or I confused your words about “inimitable form” ) 😉

  • Douglas McFarland says:

    She had been in Boston last weekend and the CARNEGIE HALL performance was stunning. Three short Ligeti pieces were remarkable.

  • boringfileclerk says:

    No short measure, yet no long dress…

  • geoff says:

    At the Montreal recital on Tuesday she wore a long green dress for the first half and a yellow mini for the second half, but only four encores.Great Ligeti.

    • Ben says:

      Air conditioning too cold. House manager should have cranked up the thermostat if more encores are expected.

  • Steve says:

    She gave 5 encores at the Koerner Hall concert in Toronto on Sunday May 13 which I attended. She is a wonderful pianist. Yes, she likes to dress provocatively, but it is her decision as to what she wants to wear and I for one would attend her concerts even if she wore a sackcloth.

  • Anna says:

    Why are you all so obsessed with what she’s wearing? Why is it even an issue? If you don’t like it, don’t go see her play/buy her CDs. It’s getting creepy how much discussion of it there is on here.

    • David says:

      I agree completely; creepy is the word.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      Because many men are easily distracted by tight fitting dresses and great legs. I know because I’m one of the them. But then it bothers them because it’s classical music, and it’s supposed to be serious and help resolve the issues of existence, death and the after-life (but not taxes). The two seem incompatible, so then it becomes another issue which may involve feelings of guilt or frustration, or even anger. It’s really almost better to listen to serious music without the visuals, but that’s beside the point.

      I do wonder, however, how women would like it if men playing on stage looked straight out of Chippendales, and then were told to ‘deal with it’ because any man is free to dress as he wishes (and needs to be comfortable while performing).

      Personally, I prefer a look of classy elegance – mainly because I’m usually in dungarees working in the yard, garage or kitchen (and thus, see little elegance about town). I can see titillation any day by driving by the beach or local high school. It’s common coin in these parts.

      • Anna says:

        Who said classical music needs to be serious? This is the problem we’re faced with. It’s stodgy, stuck up and unwelcoming. We need to make it more inviting to different kinds of people so the art form doesn’t die out.

        And btw, totally wouldn’t mind a male performer dressed in skimpy clothes! As long as he sounded good

        • La Verita says:

          Well, Anna – there’s 2 things going at once here: You see, classical music was conceived as a listening experience, not as a spectacle. So, the educated public bring their ears to concerts – with a goal to be emotionally transported through sound, while the uneducated public bring their eyes to concerts – with the goal to be entertained. Only the latter group could find classical music “stodgy, stuck up and unwelcoming”, and that’s not a criticism – but simply the reality. Those of us with educated ears wouldn’t care if Yuja performed in a burlap sack – because we’re there for her artistry, not her couture. And BTW, stylish haute couture need not display flesh: a woman can be just as sexy (if not more so) if her couture requires some “guess-work” on the part of the observer – but Yuja’s concert outfits require no such extraneous effort. She performs in costumes that inspire sexual arousal – which deflects from the aural experience, and demonstrates disrespect for the music that she is interpreting. I’m not dissing arousal here — but it really doesn’t belong in the concert hall.

          • Anna says:

            I’m just going to have to disagree with you there. Why did Liszt start playing with the piano at a profile view to the audience? Why did orchestras start to match bowings? Why do orchestra musicians where tuxedos/tails/gowns? Because it is aesthetically pleasing and interesting to look at to both the educated and uneducated audience member. (I would consider myself an “educated” audience member and I don’t agree with all these practices)

            And like I said before, if you don’t like it, don’t watch/listen. It’s that simple! Thanks for mansplaining classical music to me, though! Something I’ve spent the majority of my life studying and perfecting.

          • Fan says:

            Of course classical concerts are always spectacles, otherwise there will be no grand concert halls, no dress code, no concert etiquette. All the attempts at controlling bodies and space are to create a unique kind of spectacles.

          • Patrick says:

            ” La Verita” What a name who do you think you are? Ms. Wang has the right to dress the way she likes. Actually that add a bit to the anticipation for the concert. If she were a Rock or a Jazz artist , it would be expected. That says a lot about where Classical Music is now that we have to read your sanctimonious rant. Lets concentrate on Music please. On the Russians Ms. wang is unrivalled now period.

          • Fan says:

            Patrick, no need to be aggressive. Ms. La Verita does have a point which she expresses in an articulated and courteous way. I disagree on her point for the same reason I disagree with many religions, which is to say, if God exists, he will not need people’s approval, in other words, he will not require faith. Wang’s music making is truly stunning and what she wears will not detract or deflect in any manner. And I was sitting fiour meters behind her on the stage of Toronto’s Koerner Hall six days ago.

          • La Verita says:

            In response to Anna, Liszt’s turning his profile to the public had everything to do with his invention of the 2-hour solo piano recital, and the fact that it made more sense that the piano’s top be opened towards the audience. Uniformed bowings came into practice so that the conductor could unify the phrasing he intended to make – it wasn’t just to look pretty. Tuxes & gowns have to do with conformity – not with an entertainment spectacle. The public doesn’t go to concerts to see what the orchestra is wearing. The visual isn’t for the sake of spectacle. If anything, the conformity takes attention away from the visual, so that one is compelled to listen.

          • Anna says:

            You’re wrong about all of that. Liszt turned the piano to show off his fingers flashing over the keyboard. The “costume” we are forced to wear as orchestra musicians is to create an atmosphere of class and money. If it had to do with conformity, why can’t men wear all black as women do? Why are they dressed like waiters in their tails and tuxes? It looks ridiculous in the modern day. Bowings don’t make phrases, people make phrases, and that’s why there are several orchestras who have abandoned this tradition

  • RW2013 says:

    Glad I bought a ticket now.
    There are still a few…

  • Enrique says:

    Doesn’t matter what women performers wear (or don’t) as long as the performance is engaging. Remember how much Anne-Sophie Mutter was once criticized for performing in long, yet shoulderless gowns? Has anyone watched Lola Astanova play the piano? Traditional classical stuffiness and faux elitism has been killing the genre for decades. If audiences can show up wearing whatever is comfortable to them, why not the soloists, too?

    • Cyril Blair says:

      “Has anyone watched Lola Astanova play the piano?”

      Unfortunately, yes. Once was enough – both for watching and for listening.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Partly a question of marketing though, don’t you think? Heaven help you if you’re a frumpy older woman, or a balding, out-of-shape old man. I’m not a huge fan of classical piano to begin with (except maybe Debussy, Ravel and Scriabin [yes, I like Scriabin]), so I don’t really much care one way or the other. I mostly like to keep ‘the pot stirred’ by playing devil’s advocate. Here’s your Lola with Byron Janis . . .

  • Mike says:

    I think it’s a bit dated seeing her in that gear. I would prefer a T shirt with a political message and trousers.

  • Jack Test says:

    I do think Yuja should wear whatever makes her feel comfortable and confident. Personally I prefer her long gowns – I think she looks elegant in them. The tight little mini-dresses look restricting and best suited to avant-garde music I think.