Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday Odds & Ends

I. French Fingerling potatoes, cut up, ready to be cooked for breakfast this morning. They were very productive in the 2009 garden, taste super and store very well.

We'll be ordering more from Irish Eyes seed company next week.

II. While getting ready to conduct the Alaska premiere in Anchorage of Franz Liszt's tone poem, Orpheus, this coming May 14th, I've been listening to a lot of the music Liszt wrote at around the same time he wrote Orpheus. The period between 1848 and 1855 saw Liszt at the height of his powers as a composer, even as his powers as a piano virtuoso began to fade.

His greatest intellectual achievement as a piano composer was written during this time period - his B Minor Sonata, published the same year as Orpheus - 1854:

While looking for performances of the B Minor Sonata on the web last year, I became aware of the young Chinese pianist, Yuja Wang (or Wang Yuja) who has recently released a disc that includes a performance of the B Minor. There isn't a Youtube of her doing the Liszt sonata, but she has a big presence there, as she deserves. Here's my favorite, with her performing the final movement of Sergei Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No. 6:

And here she is performing a work by Liszt, the concert etude, La Leggierezza, when she was 13 (she's now 22):

Her key piano teacher was probably Gary Graffman, at Philadelphia's Curtiss Institute. He was also the teacher most responsible for Lang Lang's development into a world-class performer.

To finish, here she is recently performing a virtuoso transcription of Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee, as a concert encore:

Yuja Wang was interviewed this morning on NPR's Morning Edition.

The temperature here at our house just went from minus 4 F to plus 23 F in about 35 minutes. The wind came up.


flying fish said...

I heard the Yuja Wang interview this morning (twice thanks to small town radio). I'm a visual artist that can't imagine having her abilities, it made me stop and think when she said she chose piano. Chose it from the myriad of instruments she can bewitch. Awestruck

Philip Munger said...

flying fish,

Even more amazing is that she claims she doesn't "like" the piano.