The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music Q&A and review: Is Yuja Wang the New Horowitz? In her Carnegie Hall recital debut, she seems the successor to Martha Argerich as both her playing and dress get raves from The New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini. | October 30, 2011

By Jacob Stockinger

Her stiletto heels and slit skirt might have caught some eyes.

But it was her fabulous piano playing of Scriabin, Prokofiev and Liszt that made the Carnegie Hall recital debut of 24-year-old Yuja Wang  (below) a noteworthy success this past week.

It makes one wonder: Is Yuja Wang the New Horowitz (below)?

That would an honor she takes over from the fierce but aging Martha Argerich (below), about whom Horowitz himself once said “That lady learned a lot from me.” The comparison seems apt for the virtuosity Wang consistently shows, the repertoire she plays and the breathless receptions she receives.

Maybe micro-skirts, stiletto heels and slit gowns are her trademark equivalent of Horowitz’s signature bow ties?

Anyway, read the review about her Carnegie Hall debut by chief New york Times critic Anthony Tommasini (below):

And here is a pre-Carnegie Q&A with Yang that reveals more about her history and personality as well as her reaction to that buzz about her micro-skirts and other fashion controversies:

And here is another preview, with great behind-the-scenes information, in the Wall Street Journal:

If you, like me, couldn’t make it to Carnegie Hall for Yuja Wang’s debut, here is a sample of her luscious playing of the same Scriabin preludes and Poeme she played there — but last year in Santa Fe and with another very short skirt (purple then) that did NOT create such a buzz back in 2010:

Posted in Classical music


  1. Reblogged this on Classical Music Girl.

    Comment by classicalmusicgirl — December 4, 2012 @ 9:50 pm

  2. “icy piano-playing machine” is more racist criticism of an Asian person of color. Horror-dumb-wits was soooo wrong when he claimed that the only good piano players were Jewish or gay (i.e., himself). Asian people of color have TOTALLY ANNIHILATED his phony theory. They continue to do so, and it’s not merely in music. Deal with it, Horror-wits fetishists–you’ve been proven wrong by another culture that’s obliterating all your assumptions over and over again.

    Comment by Jonathan Berman — November 12, 2012 @ 9:01 am

    • ‘Asian people of color” only prove that not every aspect of another culture can be learned by imitation. Horowitz’s remark was a joke (and YOU are DUMB, if you don’t understand it). However, the greatest Jewish musicians reach the heights in music, that the robotic Asians never will. Speaking from personal experience, I am a graduate of an Ivy League school, and I heard several professors in the are of medical research point out that their Asian students are very hard-working, but lack creativity and imagination. I observed the same in my own classes. Finally, Dorothy DeLay (who knew a thing or two about muisc) complained that her Asian students’ playing is devoid of emotion & there was nothing she could do about it.

      Comment by Norm — November 16, 2013 @ 1:00 pm

      • Now that we’ve cleared that up, it bears mentioning that Yuja Wang is a superlative pianist— but she’s no Horowitz.

        Comment by Bernard — December 13, 2013 @ 7:23 pm

  3. Sorry, but it takes more than great fingers to be a Horowitz. I’ve heard Horowitz live – not only was he able to elicit from the instrument an inifnite variety of tonal color, but he was also capable of creating an emotional whirlwind which few could resist. Yuja Wang is more of an Alexis Weissenberg – an icy piano-playing machine, playing with a cold, one-dimensional tone.

    Comment by Justin — May 14, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

  4. Thanks for this. I’ve heard her live, but was left cold. I appreciate the links to other reviewers. Obviously I don’t know what I’m hearing.

    I’d still rather hear Hough and Hamelin for their ability to surprise and delight with more than fleet fingers although they’ve got, between them, 20 of the fastest in the West.

    Even at that, Volodos astounds and Katsaris amazes!!

    Comment by Michael Scott — October 30, 2011 @ 9:34 am

    • Hi Michael,
      Thanks for reading and replying.
      Your reaction to Yuja Wang is very interesting, given the hype and superlatives so many others shower on her.
      To pick on the Horowitz comparison, some critics called Horowitz a master magician while other critics called him a master of distortion.
      Long live subjectivity and taste in the arts!

      Comment by welltemperedear — October 30, 2011 @ 10:42 am

  5. Yuja’s another one I have tried getting an interview with. I missed the Carnegie Hall gig too, but she had been there before as part of the YouTube Symphony concert in 2009, and she made a great impression that night as well (at least for me). I hope she comes back to NY again so I can get a press pass for it. The Scriabin clip sounds great! She needs more Liszt in her repertoire!

    Comment by Chris McGovern — October 30, 2011 @ 7:45 am

    • Hi Chris
      I hope you do score an interview.
      I came close but she wouldn’t email, just a phoner which I couldn’t do.
      I don’t know what other LIszt she plays, but she does the B Minor Sonata well
      and has recorded it
      I like her Scarlatti and Brahms.
      Would love to hear Beethoven, Schubert for sure, Schumann (suited to her personality, I think) and more Chopin, especially smaller stuff like mazurkas.
      No doubt we will be a hearing a lot more from her in the future.
      Thanks for writing.
      Glad you like the Scriabin clip.

      Comment by welltemperedear — October 30, 2011 @ 9:36 am

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