Yuja Wang: It’s the old pals album

Yuja Wang: It’s the old pals album

Album Of The Week

norman lebrecht

March 17, 2023

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

Our inbox has clogged up with readers’ demands to know what the new Yuja album is all about. So, if you insist, it’s neither one thing nor the other.

It begins with Yuja playing a 4:34 minute solo by Michael Tilson Thomas, followed by a half-hour piano concerto by Teddy Abrams. Both composers are, in the main, conductors – and it shows….

Read on here.

And here.

En francais ici.


  • Unvaccinated says:

    The Tilson Thomas piece is better than the Abrams Concerto, and the concerto really sucks.

  • Graham Parker says:

    So many things to say in response to Norman’s review. Firstly, despite personal invitations to speak to Teddy, understand what is going on in Louisville, Norman has refused. Something along the lines of “my readers don’t care what is going on in Louisville”. So, Norman is writing from a knowledge deficit.

    Secondly, Norman is unaware of Teddy’s compositional output, including a new work for Yo-Yo Ma. Teddy has been the MD of the Louisville Orchestra, and has written 14 pieces for the orchestra during that time. Point me to any other Music Director of any other orchestra who can speak to that dedication or output.

    Finally, it is important to remind audiences of the reviews following what we consider now a cornerstone, a masterpiece of the 20th Century piano output, Rhapsody in Blue: I quote from Wikipedia:

    In contrast to the warm reception by concert audiences,[4][43] professional music critics in the press gave the rhapsody decidedly mixed reviews.[49] Pitts Sanborn declared that the rhapsody “begins with a promising theme well stated” yet “soon runs off into empty passage-work and meaningless repetition.”[41] A number of reviews were particularly negative. One opinionated music critic, Lawrence Gilman—a Richard Wagner enthusiast who would later write a devastating review of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess—harshly criticized the rhapsody as “derivative,” “stale,” and “inexpressive” in New-York Tribune review on February 13, 1924.[50][48]

    So, critics were VERY wrong then. And they are today.

    • Buck Dancer says:

      Amen, Teddy is a visionary musician, not happy to just play the usual game and try to promote himself as much as possible to get the next best gig, but rather to make a real impact in the city he lives and change the way an orchestra can support, build, and heal a community. Fuck Lebrecht

  • Oh my says:

    Am i the only one entranced by the legs? She is so attractive!

    • Furtive Wangler says:

      They are used in pedalling, so I can safely say they are highly relevant. With this in mind, I look forward to Mr. Sokolov’s next photoshoot.

  • Kyle Wiedmeyer says:

    The Louisville Orchestra may very well be the least prominent American orchestra, or orchestra of any nation, to be featured on the Deutsche Grammophon label. Good for them, more American orchestras deserve this exposure.

    • Graham Parker says:

      Kyle – don’t forget that the Louisville Orchestra has commissioned more music from leading composers in its 80 years, than likely any other orchestra in the world. The First Edition Records are still a landmark statement.

  • Robin Blick says:

    Does she play with her toes?

  • Yv says:

    Disgusting taste concerning her clothes etc. Thanks heaven, this cover is less inappropriate than her “style” when performing on stage…

  • Tony Sanderson says:

    What we really want to hear is her recording Marcus Linberg’s Third Piano Concerto. I suggested it on her Facebook page.

    Another concerto that deseves an outing is André Previn’s Piano Concerto. He wrote it for Vladimir Ashkenazy. I find some of his orchestral music on the bland side, but this concerto certainly has fizz. So come on Yuja, go for these two works!

  • Mr. Ron says:

    Both are very gifted composers and conductors.

    Beethoven, Mozart and many others were brilliant players, composers, conductors etc.

  • Peter says:

    Even if unimpressed, I would recommend continuing to change your socks..

  • RH says:

    I haven’t heard the release but imagine that I would agree with Norman

  • Couperin says:

    That Abrams concerto is straight up embarrassing. Wow. White people can get so sensitive about criticism of stuff for being white. But that has got to be the whitest swing I’ve ever heard in my life. It is REALLY bad. And a I’m white as we come.

  • Carl says:

    If she’s going to call something the “American Album,” it ought to live up to the title a bit more. I can’t speak to Abrams or MTT’s pieces but how about Gershwin’s Concerto in F? Or Barber’s Piano Concerto? For filler, she could do one of Philip Glass’s Etudes or some Ned Rorem.

  • Graham Parker says:

    The real public have spoken, and the album is #1 on the Billboard Classical Chart. That should settle it.