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Anaïs and Olivier Spiro’s rather soulful ‘road movie’ follows Yuja Wang on tour, criss-crossing the planet from concert venue to concert venue. We see her rehearsing (including several clips from Prokofiev’s Second Concerto in G minor, one of her party pieces), travelling in limousines and aeroplanes, and reflecting on her situation as the pianist loved not for herself but because of the music she plays. Elsewhere, she notes wryly that she is – to paraphrase her own description – the petite pianist who plays fast and wears short skirts.

Wang herself suggests her sometimes skimpy concert attire, and her unconcern about exposure, derives from her mother having been a dancer. Whether her dress provides a link, however tenuous, to her roots is not explored; with no commentary as such, one is dependent on the narrative provided by Yuja herself. With no hint of self-pity, she concedes at one point that her present life is not as she envisioned it.

The bonus film – comprising nearly half of the total running time – features concert performances from Salzburg of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (with one bizarre, jarring cut) and Ravel’s Concerto in G major. The Yuja trademarks are here, with flashes of brilliance and insight: the central slow episode of Rhapsody in Blue, for example, is taken very slow and unusually seductively. Ravel’s concerto is brightly but not especially brilliantly done. The sound balance is geared for video rather than the concert hall.

Fans of the pianist need not hesitate; and while I count myself one, this is not a disc I will return to often.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica


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