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Yuja Wang did something crazy last year.

The Beijing-born pianist was already among the world's most celebrated soloists on her instrument when she chose to try something superhuman. She linked up with the Philadelphia Orchestra on the stage of New York's Carnegie Hall for a 4½-hour concert at which she performed Sergei Rachmaninoff's complete works for piano and orchestra.

So perhaps it's understandable that — when she made her Minnesota Orchestra debut Friday evening — Wang evidently decided that a 16-minute piano concerto by 20th-century Russian Sergei Prokofiev (his First) didn't feel like a full night's work. So she returned to the piano to perform another piece — and another, and another. It's exceptionally rare for classical musicians to go the Bruce Springsteen or Pearl Jam three-encore route, but that's what Wang offered to a very enthusiastic almost-capacity crowd at Minneapolis' Orchestra Hall.

While she didn't play any Rachmaninoff, there was still plenty of that to be experienced, as the evening concluded with an impassioned performance of that composer's hourlong Second Symphony. Bringing the 21st century into the musical conversation was a relatively new work by American composer Caroline Shaw. It may not have gone to the lengths of that Carnegie Hall marathon, but, at 2½ hours, it's unlikely anyone headed off into the night feeling that they hadn't heard enough music. Or complaining about the quality, for the orchestra handled each piece expertly.

Wang first hit the classical cognoscenti's radar screens in the late '00s when she substituted on short notice for established superstars such as Martha Argerich and Murray Perahia. Doing the pinch-hitting this weekend is conductor Teddy Abrams, music director of the Louisville Orchestra, who recently shared a Grammy win with Wang for an album featuring an Abrams piano concerto. Stepping in for Finnish conductor Hannu Lintu, Abrams ably led the orchestra through an evening of challenging repertoire, most impressively while cutting down on the bombast too often accorded Rachmaninoff and bringing tenderness to the fore.

But it's probably safe to say that the reason almost every seat was occupied was Wang. And she did not disappoint. Prokofiev's First Piano Concerto was written when the 21-year-old composer was a conservatory student, and it bears many a common earmark of youth, leaping from one idea to another and letting impatience and agitation hold sway.

Wang negotiated the work's many mood swings admirably, particularly when she fairly frolicked on the first movement and made the finale a maniacal musical chase scene that nevertheless ended in a place of profound gentleness.

The resultant standing ovation inspired the pianist to present a longtime favorite of hers, Franz Liszt's arrangement of Franz Schubert's song, "Gretchen am Spinnrade (Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel)." It proved a lovely meditation reminiscent of a flowing stream, gradually growing in turbulence.

By contrast, she returned to Prokofiev's more anxious side for her second encore, bringing a frenetic and thunderous spirit to the third movement of his Piano Sonata No. 7. Yet her evening ended in the effervescent spirit of a Latin dance party on Mexican composer Arturo Márquez's Danzón No. 2, via a Leticia Gómez-Tagle transcription, Wang dancing upon the keys and bouncing on the bench, looking as if ready for an hour or two more at the piano were Rachmaninoff not waiting in the wings.

Rob Hubbard is a Twin Cities classical music writer. Reach him at