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Yuja Wang – The American Project (24/96 FLAC)

Yuja Wang - The American Project (24/96 FLAC)
Yuja Wang – The American Project (24/96 FLAC)

Composer: Teddy Abrams, Michael Tilson Thomas
Performer: Yuja Wang
Orchestra: Louisville Orchestra
Conductor: Teddy Abrams
Format: FLAC (tracks)
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Catalogue: 4864478
Release: 2023
Size: 716 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

01. Tilson Thomas: You Come Here Often?

Abrams: Piano concerto
02. I. Overture. Swing
03. II. Cadenza I
04. III. Exposition
05. IV. Orchestra Break
06. V. Exploration
07. VI. Cadenza II
08. VII. Relaxed
09. VIII. Solos
10. IX. Cadenza III
11. X. Return. Swing
12. XI. Cadenza IV & Coda

Yuja Wang gives a dazzling solo performance in the world premiere recording of a major new work specially written for her by her friend Teddy Abrams. Although originally conceived as a short companion composition to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Abrams’ Piano Concerto blossomed to become a 35-minute standalone showpiece. Celebrating the richness of America’s musical culture and the sheer depth and breadth of Yuja Wang’s virtuosity, the work now features on Yuja Wang · The American Project. Also included on the album is You Come Here Often?, created for the star pianist by another close friend, Michael Tilson Thomas. Both were recorded live with the Louisville Orchestra, conducted by Abrams, its Music Director.

Abrams received his first conducting lessons from Michael Tilson Thomas in San Francisco at the age of eleven. The conductor, himself a fine pianist and distinguished composer, became his long-term mentor and friend. Tilson Thomas also encouraged Yuja Wang at the start of her career. He enlarged her stock of encores in 2016 with You Come Here Often?, which serves as the opening track of her new album.

American composers set an excellent example in many ways, but if we could only choose one—should we be so ungrateful(!)—it would be their insolent, judicious refusal to choose between the high-brow and the popular, the lighthearted and the serious, the profane and the sacred… Moreover, they seem to dismiss this sort of binary categorization. Take African-American pioneers like Scott Joplin, for example, whose ragtimes opened up a vast and previously unexplored world by building a bridge between classical and jazz. Gershwin followed suit, and later on, the great musical theatre symphonists, led by Bernstein. These are all names which Michael Tilson Thomas has held dear since his early childhood. His invigorating prelude in ‘You Come Here Often’ (practically a programme in itself) summons forth the skippy grammar of the saloon parlour, passing through all manner of ‘Gershwinian’ harmonic twists—all in one single, jerky, repetitive but never passive motion, often waning towards minimalism à la John Adams. Two generations later, Teddy Abrams (b. 1987) composed his groundbreaking Piano Concerto. Spread out into 12 movements, the titles of each highlight the improvisational character of the work at large: ‘Solo’, ‘Exploration’, ‘Cadenza’. More than a century of musical tradition swirls through this rich work, which is sometimes big band, sometimes ‘Hollywood Revue’, with some unexpectedly tasty post-romantic detours. Yuja Wang, who is used to exploring beyond the conventional, is very at home with this sort of repertoire and takes great pleasure in slapping her listeners with such invigorating material. It’s a nice slap though! The kind that tells you ‘come on, put down your glass and come dance’. Indeed make no mistake, it’s a party like no other, so prepare yourself!

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