Anastasia Tsioulcas writes at NPR Music for “Deceptive Cadence” (http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence). Widely published as a writer on both classical and world music, she is the former North America editor for Gramophone Magazine and the classical music columnist for Billboard. She has also been an on-air contributor to many public radio programs, including WNYC’s Soundcheck, Minnesota Public Radio’s The Savvy Traveler, Public Radio International’s Weekend America, and the BBC’s The World.
Chinese-born pianist Yuja Wang isn't one to do anything in half measures. So when we invited her to record a performance in a room at the Steinway & Sons piano factory, she showed up in Queens that frigid morning with her A game.
The 27-year-old ultra-glam artist wore one of her trademark dresses, significant stiletto booties and a Gucci fur stole, as well as some wrist warmers as a concession to the temperature. She played a piece that would chop shrinking violets to mulch: Prokofiev's blisteringly difficult Toccata in D minor, Op. 11.
Somehow, that combination of bling and brawn — in both the music and Wang's approach — seemed just right for the factory, where artisans labored nearby over raw materials to fashion beautiful results.