Pianist Joyce Yang Kicks Off 2014 with High-Profile Concerts and the Release of Three Albums in Feb

“Jaw-dropping technique and tremendous flair.” — Aspen Times on Joyce Yang

Pianist Joyce Yang – whose playing has been described as “poetic and sensitive” by the Washington Post and “vivid and beautiful” by the New York Times – kick-starts her 2014 with a series of high-profile recitals and concerto performances, as well as the release of three albums in February and March. This red-letter stretch includes a U.S. tour with rising-star violinist Augustin Hadelich that begins January 3 in Dallas and ends at the Kennedy Center on April 21, and she makes her Seattle solo recital debut on February 19. Among her concerto appearances in the coming months, Yang completes her Rachmaninoff cycle with the Milwaukee Symphony under Edo de Waart, and also performs Rachmaninoff with de Waart in Belgium in her debut with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic.  She performs Gershwin’s Concerto in F with the Fort Worth Symphony led by Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Beethoven’s “Triple” Concerto with the Houston Symphony, and Bernstein’s “Age of Anxiety” with the Vancouver Symphony. On February 1, Bridge Records releases Yang’s recording of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Denmark’s Odense Symphony Orchestra under Alexander Lazarev. March 11 sees the release of two more albums: Wild Dreams, Yang’s second solo disc for Avie Records, including works by Schumann, Rachmaninoff, Bartók and Hindemith; and a Foghorn Classics pairing of the Brahms and Schumann piano quintets, with the Alexander String Quartet

Yang – who was silver medalist in the 2005 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition at age 19 and a 2010 Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient – earned high praise for her first Avie solo release, Collage, which paired two Scarlatti sonatas with new Scarlatti-inspired works by Grawemeyer Prize-winning American composer Sebastian Currier, plus works by Debussy, Lowell Liebermann, Schumann and Liszt. Gramophone declared the album full of “beautifully atmospheric playing.” Yang’s sophomore Avie release, Wild Dreams, features her performing Schumann’s Fantasiestücke, Hindemith’s In einer Nacht, Bartók’s Out of Doors suite, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Sonata No. 2, and Rachmaninoff songs arranged for solo piano by Earl Wild. She will play several of these works on her Seattle debut recital program, on February 19. Reviewing Yang’s recital of Wild Dreams repertoire this past spring at the Sydney Opera House, the critic from the Australian newspaper offered glowing praise: 

   “The strongest impression left by young South Korea-born pianist Joyce Yang’s recital was a dramatic sense of musical contrast. Sustaining a rich, full-bodied tone and propulsive drive, Yang captured the volatile nature and shimmering textures of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Sonata, while the delicate, reflective accounts of Earl Wild’s transcriptions of three Rachmaninoff songs illustrated her sensitive side. In Schumann’s Fantasiestücke, Yang’s mixture of cantabile phrasing, ferociously fast cascade of notes and moments of playfulness paid tribute to the composer’s self-described Eusebius-Florestan (introverted-extroverted) dual personality. Bartók’s Out of Doors suite featured the most violent contrasts of all.”

The Boston Classical Review singled out Yang’s performance of Bartók’s Out of Doors at a recital last June, saying: “It’s a brilliantly percussive showpiece of technical demands, with tricky pedaling, trilling everywhere and motoric, pounding left-hand sections. Yang made it all musical, no mean achievement.” There was more acclaim from the Dallas Morning News when Yang performed the Bartók in Texas: “Yang opened the program with an authoritative, atmospheric and, where called for, virtuosic account of Bartók’s Out of Doors suite. From the pounding rhythms of ‘With Drums and Pipes’ through the shimmers, peeps and twitters of ‘The Night’s Music’ to the exuberant gallop of ‘The Chase,’ this was the evening’s high point.” As a synesthete who “sees” music in shapes and colors, Yang describes how she envisions the score for the opening measures of Bartok’s “The Night’s Music” in a YouTube video.

Alongside the success of her concerto performances and solo recitals, the versatile Yang remains “one of the great chamber music players of her generation,” as TheaterJones has stated. Helping document this fact is the upcoming Foghorn Classics release of the Brahms and Schumann piano quintets with Yang and the Alexander Quartet. A critic for San Francisco Classical Voice was over the moon after a recent concert by Yang and the Alexanders: “The mutual affection and respect between the quartet and Yang were evident in their performance of the titanic Brahms Piano Quintet in F minor. From the opening in unison to the passionate, angst-laden first theme, their vision was as one, singularly focused on the drama and story. Yet, as the music progressed, individual voices and characters were quite evident and leaped out of the tapestry, creating an illusion of vivid three-dimensionality.”

Spring: Rachmaninoff and more

Spring brings further high-profile recital and concerto performances for Yang. On April 21, the pianist and Hadelich will collaborate with guitarist Pablo Sáinz-Villegas in “Tango, Song & Dance” at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. From April 25 to 27, Yang concludes her multi-season Rachmaninoff cycle with the Milwaukee Symphony under Edo de Waart with the composer’s Piano Concerto No. 4. Yang has enjoyed plaudits across the country and around the world performing Rachmaninoff; reviewing last spring’s performance of the Concerto No. 1 with de Waart and company, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wrote, “Yang brought a captivating mix of tremendous power and absolute clarity to her interpretation. … More than just giving a masterful display of piano technique, Yang brought vivid colors to her sound and crafted beautifully sculpted phrases.” 

From May 10 to 12, Yang has a return engagement with the Vancouver Symphony for Leonard Bernstein’s “Age of Anxiety,” a piece she played with the New York Philharmonic in what the New York Times characterized as “a knockout performance.” Then Yang caps her season across the Atlantic with more Rachmaninoff under de Waart, this time with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, May 30-31. 

A complete list of Joyce Yang’s upcoming engagements follows, and additional information may be found on her new website: www.pianistjoyceyang.com

Upcoming engagements

Jan 3 

Dallas, TX 

Chamber Music International

Recital with Augustin Hadelich, violin 

Jan 5

Los Angeles, CA 

Clark Art Institute at UCLA

Recital with Augustin Hadelich, violin 

Jan 11, 12

Sarasota, FL 

Artist Series of Sarasota

Recital with Augustin Hadelich, violin