between a rach (3) and a hard place – part II

this pic to the left?  that’s exactly what the steinway sees when yuja wang approaches to play the infamous rach 3.  did you catch her this weekend?!  please tell me you caught the show.  dear god.  whew – what to say about rachmaninoff’s third piano concerto… perhaps a bit of historical explanation is in order to put things in perspective.  most folks don’t know this, but composer/pianist sergei rachmaninoff stood 8’5” and was born with 6 digits on each finger, enabling him to cover 3 octaves between thumb and pinky.  gracing the stage in a stunning floorlength sleeveless red gown, the not-yet-24-year-old ms. wang doesn’t fit my preconceived image of the 88-key warrior necessary to tackle this gargantuan piece of music.  imagine having to play virtually non-stop virtuosic piano for forty minutes straight.  at the rate of 1020 npm (notes per minute).  oh yeah, from memory.  well that’s exactly what yuja did this weekend, with razor-sharp precision, romantic longing, lightening speed, and the cooly poised facial expression of someone enjoying a pedicure.  and jeez-o-peet those tunes!  the moment the piece begins is the moment when melody makes its first of many, many appearances.  if you don’t know this music (yet), words fall utterly short trying to describe the firework intensity of the first 2 movements of this concerto… and the final third movement?  hard to believe, but the firework intensity gets even more intense.  with a cymbal crash and the orchestra going full tilt, the final movement bursts on the scene racing towards its ultimate crazed-carnival-romantic-hollywood-triumphant ending.  not before my favorite moments, though, when ms. wang gets to impersonate (twice!) dave brubeck pounding out this wicked series of chorded brazilian dance runs [i’m sure there’s a much more technical description for what i’m hearing, but whatevs].  what i am sure of, though, is that all 2500 of us in the schnitz were not breathing for the final minute of this work.  i’m getting chills and watery eyes just thinking about it.  yuja: you da shizzle!


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