|Fabio Luisi and Angie Zhang|
Beethoven's Leonore Overture No.3, Op.72b closed the program at Alice Tull Hall Thursday night giving us a renewed appreciation for the passionate conducting of Maestro Fabio Luisi as he led the Juilliard Orchestra through a stirring performance.
Principal conductor at The Metropolitan Opera, Maestro Luisi projects a modest and somewhat reserved mien but when he steps onto the podium his animated conducting style is exciting to watch and even more exciting to hear. It was an "on the edge of your seat" performance that left us humming the major theme from Fidelio for hours afterward. Whoever tried to convince us that Beethoven was a poor melodist was dead wrong.
We have great anticipation for an upcoming presentation of Beethoven's only opera Fidelio (on June 9th by New Amsterdam Opera) for which this overture served as an appetizer.
There was quite a difference when Maestro Luisi conducted Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491 . He was quiet and self-effacing, focusing his attention on the brilliant young pianist Angie Zhang, whose soft hands were a pleasure to watch. His command of the orchestra allowed him to put her front and center. Indeed, Mozart himself gave the piano several places where it was unaccompanied which allowed us to appreciate the fine control possessed by Ms. Zhang.
We couldn't stop thinking about the vocal lines in Mozart's operas. Here, the piano took over the runs and trills and arpeggios. Ms. Zhang's piano truly sang! We were particularly fond of the middle movement, a lovely larghetto with a deceptively simple folk-like tune, adorned by Ms. Zhang with extremely expressive ornamentation.
The opening number was Brahms' Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90. It opened with a muscular first theme which led to a dance-like second theme. The development section had an interesting dialogue between the violins and the lower strings. But for some reason, the work failed to ignite; we would not consider it our favorite Brahms symphony.
(c) meche kroop