on the concert of 12 September, 2015 at the Angel Place
concert hall in Sydney)
pianist Yuja Wang is a phenomenon. I don't really know
how else to describe her.
packed audience waiting in Sydney's Angel Place concert
hall gave an astonished gasp as she appeared through the
stage door. Out walked a beautiful young Chinese woman
in a dress as slinky as I have ever seen on stage and
very high platform shoes. Can this extraordinary person
really play the piano?
gave a quick bow, sat down at the piano and from the moment
she touched the keyboard we were in her hands. There was
no question she could play, the only question was whether
we had ever heard anything like her.
played Scriabin and Chopin, then after the interval (in
a different and equally stunning dress and ultra-high
shoes) more Chopin and more Scriabin. She finished with
Balakirev's Islamey, a piece which has the reputation
of being the most difficult piece of piano music yet written.
My seat neighbour told me that for this reason you often
hear it at piano competitions.
played each piece as if the composers had written them
just for her most amazingly competent hands. She confounded
our expectations at every turn. The thing that made this
performance even more exceptional was Wang's diffidence
on stage. With her bobbed hair and open face she looked
and acted like the teenage girl next door, bowing quickly
and without artifice.
audience was enthralled. After an extraordinary one and
a half hours of playing she answered the applause with
multiple encores. Not little short easy pieces but substantial
works, mostly with a fun element, a bit of jazz or musical
the audience were exhausted by the brilliance of the star.
I must say that after this marathon performance she looked
tired too .... although as soon as she sat for an encore
the tiredness seemed to evaporate. As I left the hall
I walked past the queue of people waiting for a signed
CD. It stretched right along the entrance hall and into
the street behind. People in the queue were telling each
other that, yes, they might have to wait and hour but
it was worth it. They wanted a physical memento of this
about Yuja Wang