Sunday, November 04, 2012

Yuja Wang and the SF Symphony Go to East Asia

The San Francisco Symphony is embarking on a two-week tour of East Asia next week, with an itinerary that starts in Macau, and continues to Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai, Beijing and Tokyo. All but two of the concerts will be featuring the 25-year old Chinese piano soloist Yuja Wang above, in either the Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini or Prokofiev's Second Piano Concerto, which she performed above in San Francisco on Halloween night.

Ms. Wang played the same piece brilliantly here in May of 2009, but Wednesday's performance was a whole other level of fiendish fabulousness, athletic and musical at the same time. If she is not already a superstar in East Asia, after this tour she certainly will be.

The rest of the repertory is the Mahler Fifth which the orchestra played so well last month, along with Rachmaninoff's Second Symphony. They are also bringing bonbons from American moderns Henry Cowell (Music 1957), John Adams (Short Ride in a Fast Machine), and the opening movement of Lou Harrison's 1963 cross-cultural Pacifika Rondo, dedicated to the musics and cultures of the Pacific Rim. I only wish management had decided to play the whole Lou Harrison piece instead of the Rachmaninoff because it represents this orchestra and this region so much better than the overplayed Rach. Bon voyage, orchestra, you've never sounded better.

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