One of those moments

This evening I went with friends to see the Berlin Philharmonic. It was all wonderful.

But when Yuja Wang came out to play Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2, it all went somewhere far beyond wonderful. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a powerful experience at an orchestral performance.

Prokofiev’s second piano concerto is a work of intense emotion. He wrote it in memory of a close friend who had committed suicide, and he essentially wrote it twice — the second time after the original orchestral score was destroyed in a fire following the Russian revolution.

Yuja Wang played the piece as though she was possessed. It was astonishing to see and hear so much emotional power flow from a single human being, particularly one so young.

Meanwhile, the orchestra and conductor Paavo Jarvi clearly understood that something extraordinary was happening, and they rose to the occasion magnificently. The interaction between pianist, conductor, orchestra and enraptured audience was a thing of pure beauty.

It was one of those moments that make you realize how truly fortunate you are to be alive.

One Response to “One of those moments”

  1. Stacy says:

    We’ve heard Yuja play with the Philadelphia Orchestra several times. While always technically superb, her performances have improved over time. When she played the Prokofiev in 2009 (with Charles Dutoit conducting the Philadelphians), that emotional power you heard in Berlin was somewhat lacking. (Of course, Yuja was only 22 at the time.) In contrast, her 2013 performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with Yannick at the podium was as technically brilliant as always, but soulful as well. As one of the reviewers at the time said, Yuja made the meaning of the piece “transparent…through faithful rendering of the score rather than through superimposed emotionality.”

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