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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arguably one of Yuja Wang's finest discs yet and a good illustration of her 'live' presence on the concert platform, 20 Mar 2014
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No 3 / Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No 2 (Audio CD)
This disc was recorded in February 2013 'live' where Yuja Wang performed both of these extremely demanding works within one concert. her own comment concerning the resultant recording was that 'I'm happy that this recording captures the energy levels of our live performance. I think it's a little explosive, but controlled and very communicative.'

That comment essentially under-sells the achievement of this disc as there are just so many other things to savour about the playing beyond explosive energy and control. What one notices far more is the enormous range of expression achieved through a delicate touch which allows for quick-silver flashes of humour as well as an intensely lyrical quality to the playing. That latter is a real bonus in the Prokofiev concerto which can often descend to a trial of strength where power rules all.

Yuja Wang brings out the delicacy and wit of the Prokofiev concerto spiced with much internal detail that is often missed. Much is also made of the interaction between herself and the orchestra. The interplay achieved in the central two movements is a constant delight and takes away the sense of struggle and replaces it with a clear sense of fun. The rapid repeated notes are a marvel of clarity for example. Power is also there in abundance as witnessed at the end of the first movement extended cadenza and the entry of the orchestra which is delivered with great intensity and depth of orchestral tone and might - one of many thrilling moments.

The Rachmaninov is the more popular work and receives a sparkling performance, once more, with much light and shade achieved even at challengingly fast tempi. Others have occasionally approached the final movement at the tempo set here but this level of clarity at speed seems to be in a class of its own. The numerous points throughout the concerto where other fine pianists pull back tempi, perhaps to cope with technicalities, offer plenty of examples where, not only are tempi maintained, they are even increased to spell-binding effect. A similar effect as Heifetz was able to deliver on the violin. That such a comparison can be drawn illustrates the exalted level of this playing.

Yuja Wang has made several discs of distinction and her digital dexterity is renowned. On this occasion she resoundingly shows the depth and range of her outstanding musicality with two performances deserving and capable of being compared favourably with the very best from any generation. What a shame that DGG did not record the concertos for Blu-ray /DVD while they were also recording the visual promotional clips. A lost opportunity for those who have already bought her Prokofiev 3 and Mendelssohn 1 on Blu-ray / DVD.

Yuja Wang on this disc seems to have excited divergent opinion where it seems that admirers and detractors have given their opinions regardless of the content of this disc. Biased opinion without depth of understanding is no aid to anyone and should not inform either the reviewer or the responses to reviews.

This disc is accumulatively a remarkable achievement and well-worth collectors considering it for purchase no matter how many alternative recordings they already own. On the subject of recording quality, suffice it to confirm that DGG have provided a recording that gives good balance and realistic timbres which makes this a very satisfactory aural experience technically.

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Some dialogue from the comments section that may offer further help:

I thought that you might like to know that before I buy a recording I now look through all the reviews to see if you have posted one. Your assessments and opinions are invaluable. Thank you. (US review)

I particularly like your format of review. They give the prospective purchaser an idea of the style of the playing and relevant comparisons. They are succinct. Keep up the good work! (UK review)

I'm sure there are many other serious collectors, besides myself, who wait for your synopsis and opinion before spending their hard-earned money on new releases...
Keep up the good work!
Thank you (UK review)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well, I'll be . . ., 15 Mar 2014
By 
Stanley Crowe (Greenville, SC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No 3 / Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No 2 (Audio CD)
If Wang or Dudamel never make another recording in their lives, their reputations as engaged and communicative musicians have been made by this one. I listened to it right through and was riveted -- and, of course, it helped that the expressive worlds of the two concertos are so different. Rachmaninov's almost manic-depressive changes of tempo, melody, and rhythm within the movements gave one a sense of how the formality of the classical concerto had been broken up. Expressive resources are not divided up by movement but within and through the movements are marshaled to create a kind of narrative that the soloist and orchestra have to guide our ears through. They succeed here because Wang and the orchestra seem highly responsive to one another, and Wang wonderfully submerges herself at times as part of the orchestral texture, so that when she surfaces, so to speak, the movement seems totally natural and part of an integrated progression. This was a live performance, and the sheer dexterity of the pianism is outstanding, and her ability to command the utmost delicacy, occasional humor, and the big splashy moments is quite amazing, especially when the sense of the integrity of the whole is preserved. For all that, almost my favorite part was the orchestral introduction to the second movement -- Dudamel and the orchestra play this with gripping expression, and it sets up the solo entrance marvelously. Just a great account.

Same with Prokofiev's Second. I see this as a creepy nocturne -- it's expressively less rich, the piano is deployed more percussively more often, and the sense of darkness and fear are never far away. The third movement wavers between a march and a dance, creepily both and neither, and the final movement is more of (or as much of) a scherzo as the designated scherzo. I wonder what Mussorgsky would have thought, because the feeling of "Night on the Bald Mountain" is lurking here, albeit in a post-Stravinsky accent. My favorite moment here is when, with tremendous power, the orchestra rises up to join the piano at the end of the first-movement cadenza -- it's like the Creature from the Black Lagoon! Come to think of it, Disney might have had a place for this in "Fantasia." Wang plays it as if she totally believes in it, and the orchestra -- whose winds, by the way, are stellar throughout -- is with her all the way. I would say that this is an indispensable recording.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A new star, 7 April 2014
By 
Mr. Christopher Harris "Chris in Brum" (Birmingham UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No 3 / Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No 2 (Audio CD)
Yuja Wang is a wonderful talent. Her technical skill is undoubted and given her looks she is bound to have a big career. However I think she has some way to go in being able to fill the music with the emotional feeling needed to make a great performance. This comes through on this CD in the Rachmaninov which doesn't quite catch fire. The Prokofiev is stronger and a fine performance.

This is still worth investigating but there are better versions especially of the Rachmaninov.
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5.0 out of 5 stars surprising recording of Prokfiev, 5 April 2014
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No 3 / Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No 2 (Audio CD)
I have an earlier Yuja Wang recording but this shows surprising maturity as well as technical mastery both of the Rach 3 & the Prokofiev, credit to Dudamel too
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The wild child at work ?, 8 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No 3 / Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No 2 (Audio CD)
As an ardent admirer of this remarkable young pianist, I expected much ffrom this recording. It is a major addition to the discography of these two works and can be recommended wholeheartedly
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yuja, 8 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No 3 / Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No 2 (Audio CD)
What those small flying fingers delivers is totally incredible, You just have to se and hear that.
After X times watching the ARTE clip on youtube I decided to complete my collection with some albums more.
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1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rachmaninov piano concerto No 3 &Prokofiev piano concerto No.2, 14 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No 3 / Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No 2 (Audio CD)
I am very pleased with this version of the above piano concertos by
Yuja Wang a truly delicate performance by this artist
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