Pianist Yuja Wang embraces Mozart in Europe

Concerts are back on the calendar. The third edition of the Riga Jurmala Music Festival takes place throughout the summer weekends in the historic cities of Riga and Jurmala in Latvia.

Restless, gloomy, and dramatic: Mozart”s piano concerto (No 20) in D minor, K. 466 resonates with the waves of the Baltic Sea and is interpreted by pianist Yuja Wang.

“For three minutes you’re just sitting there,” said Wang, “Because it’s so, so much turbulence from the tutti (orchestra) I chose, to come in very inner, very dolce, very singing.”

“You can do this in different ways. You can say the same line, but you can say it very openly and dramatic, expressive, or you can say very intimately,” Wang explained.

The piano virtuoso shines at the Riga Jurmala Music Festival under the baton of Sir John Eliot Gardiner.

“I mean, this is opera, really,” said Sir Gardiner. “These later concertos of Mozart they’re so imbued with the theatricality and the dramatic contrast between the very, very silvery sound of the piano, like a prima donna, she’s a sort of soprano and then the orchestra, which is the big bang effect.”

“This piece has all the fire and all the angst and the turmoil,” expressed Wang.

She was accompanied by the Mariss Jansons Festival Orchestra which has musicians from the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, the Concertgebouworkest, the Oslo Philharmonic, the Tonhalle Zurich, and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

At the time, Mozart played on the fortepiano which is much smaller and lighter than modern concert pianos.

“Gardiner challenged me to not use the pedal because I would resemble the fortepiano,” said Wang, “I can use the pedal to add the colour, but this one I really have to articulate. It’s a different way of playing and just sing from the piano.”

“It’s written in 1785, February 10 and it was really spooky when I found that out because that’s my birthday, so this piece was born on the same day,” she added.

Being on the beach in Riga, Wang expressed her joy of walking on the sand.

“This is a paradise for me. This is what I don’t have in New York, and I have been in New York for 15 months.”

“One thing I’m sure we all (will) rethink of what we are doing in life during Covid. It’s more about who you are with and how much you are putting yourself into it to enjoy and how centered you are as a person.”

“It’s a form of meditation to breathe in the ocean Prana (universal energy). It makes you feel so grateful to be on this planet.”


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