Yuja Wang Shines in Rachmaninoff: The Piano Concertos and Paganini Rhapsody – A Review

by Madonna

Renowned pianist Yuja Wang’s recent performance of Rachmaninoff’s iconic piano works continues to captivate audiences, marking yet another milestone in the celebration of the composer’s enduring legacy during his 150th anniversary year. Earlier this year, Wang’s marathon concert at New York’s famed Carnegie Hall, where she masterfully rendered all five of Rachmaninoff’s piano and orchestra compositions, created ripples in the world of classical music, garnering international acclaim and making headlines.

Returning to the spotlight, Wang now presents live recordings of these five monumental compositions, albeit with a fresh twist. Collaborating with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, under the baton of its esteemed music director, Gustavo Dudamel, Wang breathes new life into these cherished classics.


In an era where Rachmaninoff’s music no longer requires a special occasion to be celebrated, with its reputation firmly established, Wang and Dudamel step into a fiercely competitive arena of recordings featuring his four piano concertos and the beloved Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.


Yuja Wang’s artistry is marked by an unmistakable and immediately recognizable personality. Her technical prowess is nothing short of exceptional, with every note resonating crystal clear, even when her fingers gracefully skim across the keyboard at breakneck speed. It’s in these moments of velocity and virtuosity that Wang’s performances truly soar. The scintillating finale of Rachmaninoff’s youthful First Concerto and the Paganini Rhapsody showcase Wang’s artistry in full flight, leaving audiences spellbound.


In the profoundly Romantic Second and Third Concertos, Wang approaches lyrical passages with a refreshing composure, eschewing heavy-handed emoting. While her restraint is commendable, pianists who allow themselves more time to breathe naturally discover a broader palette of colors and a deeper well of emotions within the music. Here, Dudamel and his exceptionally talented musicians from the Los Angeles Philharmonic provide a compensatory richness of sound, infusing Rachmaninoff’s compositions with a renewed vitality and depth.

Throughout these recordings, the audio quality remains top-notch, a testament to the artistry of all involved. As Wang and Dudamel venture into this competitive realm of Rachmaninoff interpretations, they undoubtedly offer a fresh and compelling perspective on these timeless classics, breathing new life into the maestro’s extraordinary musical legacy.


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