Naxos is proud to have recordings featuring the young violinist Tianwa Yang and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra among its extensive discography. Recently, Tom Keogh of The Seattle Times wrote:
Try popping violinist "Sarasate: Music for Violin and Piano: 1" in your car's CD player and see if you can concentrate on driving.
Yang's vivid, fiercely intelligent and sultry performance on the first in a projected series of seven albums dedicated to virtuoso musician and composer Pablo Sarasate is an arresting showcase for the Beijing-born former child prodigy. (Yang also has recorded the second volume.)
Yang, who was 18 when "Music for Violin" was released in 2006, demonstrates the breathtaking beauty and deep expressiveness for which her playing has been hailed repeatedly by the European press.
This week, Seattle Symphony Orchestra patrons will be among the very few American audiences so far to experience Yang's rhapsodic brilliance up close. The violinist made her North American debut with the Virginia Symphony during its 2007-08 season and played with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra last October.
Other than Benaroya Hall and a November appearance with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Yang's 2009 shows are largely booked in Germany, where she is hugely popular, and Spain, a country—no surprise, given her embrace of the Sarasate project—to which, she says, she "feels connected."
"Ravel's mother was Basque," Yang notes on the phone from Germany, talking about the composer for whom Spain held endless fascination and musical ideas. Yang will perform the dreamlike, gypsy-influenced "Tzigane" with the Seattle Symphony and conductor Gerard Schwarz.
"That's a special piece, written for violinists," says Yang. "It's sort of free, very evocative, a little bit Oriental in harmony. It was inspired by a violinist traveling with Ravel, and Ravel tried his ideas on the violin himself, getting different colors and sounds."
Yang began studying violin at age 4 in Beijing, and at 10 was accepted into that city's Central Conservatory of Music. She spent her teen years conquering festivals, making her recording debut and playing recitals in Europe. (On YouTube, one can watch 13-year-old Yang perform all "24 Caprices of Paganini," which she also recorded for the Hugo label.)
"My parents did not realize I was becoming professional," Yang says of her early years. "They just thought I loved playing violin. My father gave up his job to be at the conservatory with me. I wouldn't practice, and he had to be with me to make sure."
This article was originally published in The Seattle times on Thursday, May 7, 2009.