The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Pianist Yuja Wang’s controversial and sexy micro-skirts are all part of her musical performance, says New York Times critic Zachary Woolfe in his rave review of Wang’s Carnegie Hall recital last week.

May 21, 2013
10 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear recently wondered about the relative silence and quiet of the young pianist Yuja Wang.

No more.

Wang has own more than her fair share of rave reviews and Grammy nominations for her intense and virtuosic playing. But she has also sparked controversies with her sexy and minimalist fashion that some people deem inappropriate concert attire that distracts from the music-making.

Witness Wang’s performances in the Hollywood Bowl of Rachmaninoff’s man-eating Piano Concerto No. 3. Here are photos and also a link to another post I did about Wang — you can find many more about Yuja Wang by using the search engine on The Ear blog site –that drew a lot of responses and comments from readers:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2011/08/17/classical-music-poll-was-yuja-wang’s-concert-skirt-too-short-what-is-inappropriate-concert-attire-for-a-performer-male-or-female/

yuja wang dress times 3

But last week New York Times critic Zachary Woolfe (below op) found Wang’s controversial attire to go beyond marketing and hype to be an integral part of the effect of her terrific recital — a true “performance,” Woolfe says, in part precisely because of her short skirt and spiky heels attire . It was in Carnegie Hall (below bottom in a photo by Ian Douglas for The New York Times) and featured  big and sexy post-Romantic works by Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Ravel, plus Chopin and other composers including Lowell Liebermann. (At bottom is a YouTube video of some shorter Scriabin works that Wang performed in Santa Fe.)

zachary woolfe ny times critic

Yuja Wang Ian Douglas NYT May 2013

Here is a link to Woolfe’s review:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/18/arts/music/yuja-wang-at-carnegie-hall.html?_r=0

The Ear also thinks that Yuja Wang’s taste in fashion not only helps her with PR and promotion or publicity, but also serves as a mirror of or natural accompaniment to her high-powered way of playing. She surely is a major pianist for a new century. (Below is another photo, by Ruby Washington of The New York Times, of Wang wearing a long black gown with a thigh-high slit for her Carnegie Hall debut, which also won a rave review from the Times’ senior music critic Anthony Tommasini.

Yuja Wang at Carnegie Ruby Washington NYTimes

What do you think of Woolfe’s point, his linking the fashion and the music? Are you convinced?

The Ear wants to hear.


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