Yuja’s getting shorter

Yuja’s getting shorter


norman lebrecht

May 28, 2021

She’s playing this week with the London Symphony Orchestra in truncated concerts and pink skirts.

Barry Millington notes both in his ES review:

Wang’s fingerwork is as dazzling as her shocking-pink evening wear. I hope I may be forgiven the sartorial observation, but it’s not irrelevant: there’s something similarly attention-seeking about her phrasing and tonal shading. Whether it’s felt genuinely to emerge from the music itself is perhaps a matter of taste, but there’s no denying it’s arresting and individual. Far better that than a banal, workaday reading – something no one could ever accuse Wang of delivering.



  • Gustavo says:


  • Sir David Geffen-Hall says:

    Still a dazzling musician and she’s young and got it. More power to her.

    She’ll be old someday and have some nice pics to share with her grand children.

  • Emma says:

    I attended this concert with Yuja playing Rach 2 with the LSO…was absolutely wonderful, technically polished and quite ravishing. As for her dress, well, raised eyebrows, but can forgive anybody with playing like that! (Why is it men always comment so ferociously regarding her dresses, or lack of…?)

    • Peter X says:

      the power of sexuality! Even in seemingly dull men, lurks a sexual predator.

      • Ludwig's Van says:

        Well, isn’t she asking for it, with her “come hither” attire?

        • hsy says:

          No, she is not asking for it. Until I see something like “the pianist is dressed in traditional formal attire, in a clear attempt to lend some credibility and gravitas to his performance. This is consistent with his marketed image as a ‘serious’ and ‘thoughtful’ musician” routinely in reviews, I don’t want to read about how her performance is “similarly attention-seeking” to her sartorial choices.

      • Bone says:

        Hyperbolic much?

    • Jack says:

      Emma, did no one ever teach you the facts of life?

      • Emma says:

        Jack, and the above comments. Seems the #metoo movt are not on your emotional “radar” – must be the basement, where you subsist in a twilight zone, receiving musical gratification from highly talented beautiful females, but without the social skills necessary to interact with everyday females!

  • Another orchestral musician says:

    She can wear whatever the f***k she wants, or shall she ask for music critics’ approval first?

    • Tamino says:

      Well, that’s a slippery slope. Of course she can wear whatever she wants, but also everybody can say about it whatever they want. It’s what they call ‘social interaction’ I think.

      There are people who are totally liberal and free sexually, but who know about the power of Eros and would like to focus on music and performance in the concert hall.

      If a musician chooses to appear in an attire that is sexually overly charged, then it can make things a bit distracting.

      Yuja is an exception, as she is so brilliant, that she is above the suspicion to using her sex appeal for improving her stock market price.

  • Patrick Gillot says:

    If she were a rock star or a jazz pianist her attire would not even be mentioned but it is “classical music” and that creates a problem for some. That is partly the reason classical music is dying in the west, only unreformed old people need to apply……

    • Henry williams says:

      Very true i have been to concerts where the audience looks like they are in a care home.

  • Gustavo says:

    Boy, Riccardo the White!

  • Anton Bruckner says:

    Indeed astounding how civilized white middle aged men start drooling whenever Yuja is wearing a short dress. At least SD continues nourishing the desires these concert goers.

  • BRUCEB says:

    It’s telling that there’s no mention of the repertoire or the conductor.

  • Pedro says:

    I happened to be in Lisbon last week. Yuja Wang played superbly Rachmaninoff’s 4th with the excellent Gulbenkian Orchestra though Lorenzo Viotti’s conducting was a mess. The second half (Tchaikovsky 4th) offered incredibly good playing by the orchestra but Viotti was lethargic. He only woke up at the coda of the first movement and in the last one. An underrated orchestra and an overrated conductor.

  • hsy says:

    “there’s something similarly attention-seeking about her phrasing and tonal shading. Whether it’s felt genuinely to emerge from the music itself is perhaps a matter of taste”

    Why doesn’t the critic tell us where her “phrasing and tonal shading” might not have emerged from the music itself? This is so vague that he could put the same sentence in every review. The concert is apparently recorded. It would be helpful if he could be more specific so that we can judge his judgement against the recording.

    • BRUCEB says:

      From the review:

      “It’s also true that while Rachmaninov’s massive sonorities hold no terrors for her, she’s equally capable of exquisitely nuanced playing, as evidenced by the beautifully weighted chords at the close of the second movement and the delicate filigree of the opening of the third.”

      Anyway, the way I read that comment, the word “genuinely” was the key. The matter of taste may be whether you think she’s getting her ideas from the music, or just looking for opportunities to say “hey, look at what I can do!” I’ve been in the orchestra accompanying many soloists who seem to be doing the latter, for example by distorting very simple phrases to (I guess?) show off their exquisite rubato skills.

      • hsy says:

        That’s nice, but the critic still didn’t say where her “phrasing and tonal shading” might not have “emerged from the music itself”.

  • M McAlpine says:

    Why does anyone take people like Morrison seriously, writing a review like that? Or perhaps, like me, they don’t!

  • Johan VanLeer says:

    how they vilified Eileen Joyce for changing dresses !

  • Michael says:

    Why are 90yo critics writing here, can we get sb fresh and the current generation? Dress is important ffs

  • MER says:

    Yuja Wang is the only pianist I am aware of who possibly might be able to play works like Spirit Lady, Carnelian Compass, Taffeta Patterns, and even, on the other end of the spectrum, Garlanded In Wistaria, in terms of both having the technical capability and conveying the expressive nuances of music conceived for meruvina. And she may even be in her element doing so, if a yet undiscovered essence, the works she currently plays being admirable music of past times, with past syntax, and past cultures (meaning capturing certain cultures at past moments of time), all most precious (not being familiar with her full repertoire, perhaps including current works that emulate those traditions), but nonetheless, far from my personal perception of the here and now moving forward, including original assimilations of Indian classical music and American jazz into composition. It would be fascinating if she were to take her formidable keyboard gifts into a domain inhabited by an instrument-orchestra born in our time, and show she may hold her own, and perhaps add new dimensions, transcending mediums. Computers can apparently defeat anyone in chess, including world champions, but music is ultimately much more subjective, and more about the moment and journey rather than an athletic or game contest. Of course, Morton Feldman would argue that last point, believing music composition is absolutely a competition among a variety of existing styles, having told me, for example, that Steve Reich (a mentor of mine) and Morton Subotnick (one of my teachers) were composers he “worried about”, and his perspective is certainly valid, too.

    Regarding Yuha’s dress, all power to her.


  • Leonard B says:

    The least the conductor she is appearing with is well-versed in b)anal workaday readings

  • Jack says:

    Pandering a bit? Naw. You know your horny audience quite well. Yuja Wang’s artistry at the keyboard gleefully runs circles around your ability as a commentator.

  • NotToneDeaf says:

    I love that the people in the “how dare you – she can wear whatever she wants” camp are the same ones having a coronary about operatic on-stage nudity. Hypocrisy much?

  • Karin Becker says:

    The year with Covid had no impact on the Chinese pianist’s personality: sThe yeahe continues to put her body parts
    on display, especially her legs in high heels in London. Miss Wang has given something to international concert life: she has turned something completely insignificant, the soloist’s dress, into something important. No music critic refrains from commenting on the Chinese woman’s dress. Bravo Yuja, – what a cultural achievement.

    • hsy says:

      Nobody forced the critics to comment on her dresses, a practice started predictably by American critics, desperate for any attention they can get as the number of full time music critic jobs in the US dwindles. Clearly it works for them, since there are always trashy people like you who love to focus on her clothes and never fail to leave a comment about how you hate her because you love to focus on her clothes.