Carnegie Hall 2018-19 Review: Orchestra of St. Luke’s Featuring Ying Fang
Beethoven & Mozart Getting Riveting Interpretations In Famed HallBy Jennifer Pyron
Orchestra of St. Luke’s second performance of the 2018-19 Carnegie Hall Series was led by Principal Conductor Bernard Labadie which featured Jonathan Biss as a guest artist performing Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19” and soprano Ying Fang also as a guest artist, performing Mozart’s aria “Non temer, amato bene, K.490” from “Idomeneo.”
The evening began with OSL performing Haydn’s “Overture to L’isola disabitata,” which showed the tremendous enthusiasm of the orchestra members as they played along to the Sturm und Drang style. With aesthetically intelligent tempo and dynamics, the orchestra increased excitement for the night’s line-up.
Spacing Out Beethoven
Initially, the highly regarded pianist Paul Lewis was scheduled to perform, but he was unable to make it due to a physical injury. He was covered by one of the great Beethoven interpreters of our time, Jonathan Biss.
“A member of the faculty of his alma mater – the Curtis Institute of Music – since 2010, Mr. Biss led the first massive open online course (MOOC) offered by a classical music conservatory, ‘Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas,’ which has reached more than 200,000 people in 185 countries,” stated the program notes. Needless to say, Biss had an innate connection to Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No. 2” that might have made one feel as though time stood still.
Notably, Biss’ most inspiring strength as a performer was his ability to allow Beethoven’s spirit and creation to be the driving force, while continuously giving into moments of profound sensitivity for each note that he played. This was especially apparent in the last two minutes of Beethoven’s “Adagio” where he created the space for each note to resonate perfectly and fully into the concert hall. Biss was a master of his craft and a medium that ushered all listeners forward into an otherworldly realm.
Mozart’s Voice Takes Flight
The most special highlight of the evening was the Chinese-born soprano Ying Fang as she performed Mozart’s “Non temer, amato bene, K.505.”
This aria was composed by Mozart with the same text from the aria in Act Two of “Idomeneo,” as a gift for soprano Nancy Storace. It received its Carnegie Hall premiere in 1990 and is often performed in concert by sopranos, mezzo-sopranos and tenors. Although it is only six minutes in duration, this aria proved to be a perfect fit for the OSL’s peak in the program for the night.
In addition to a master’s degree and artist diploma in opera studies from Juilliard, Fang is known especially for her grace and seemingly effortless purity of tone. And while on stage, her persona alone was one that radiated grace and beauty, which only amplified her charm while singing.
Krista Bennion Feeney was featured on the violin and played the obbligato part in perfect balance with Fang. Together they navigated each variation and developed new ideas for an array of emotions surrounding the original theme of Idamante’s complicated love.
Fang was unapologetically herself as she sang “Non temer, amato bene,” which gave this aria a new wave of energy and excitement. The audience gave a thrilling response to her performance and one might say the “sky is the limit” for her continued success.