New York audiences were delighted this past Thursday evening to hear internationally renowned opera superstar Susan Graham sing with the Orchestra of St. Luke's at Carnegie Hall. Ms. Graham sang on the same bill that included Franz Liszt's The Black Gondola and Felix Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 3. in A Minor, Op. 56, "Scottish." At the podium waving the baton was conductor Edo de Waart. There was a champagne reception following the performance where Ms. Graham and the Maestro greeted their patrons over coffee, tea, holiday cookies, and chocolate covered strawberries.
The Liszt piece was originally a piano composition which John Adams orchestrated into a full symphonic work in 1990.
Ms. Graham sang Alban Berg's Sieben frühe Lieder, which was the second piece of the evening. She expressed immense warmth and fluid musicality. She truly is a master of her craft. It is always a joy, not only to listen to her sing, but also to watch her perform. Her instinctual interpretations are so moving, it nearly brings one to tears. Especially at the end of Traumgekrönt where she sustained an endless pianissimo high note that was simply breathtaking. There was zero strain her voice what so ever.
Ms. Graham has a voice all her own and she is a true beauty in every sense of the word. To watch her onstage is to witness a force unlike any other. She truly is in a class all her own.
The same can be said about the orchestra playing behind her. The Orchestra of St. Luke's is perhaps one of the greatest orchestra's I've ever heard. Their use of dynamic expression was beautiful to behold. Every little detail and nuance culminated into one extraordinary performance. The acoustics of the venue only further glorified the experience. With Maestro Edo de Waart wielding the baton, the evening couldn't miss. There was but one fault and one fault alone: there was not near enough people who attended the concert. It is always very disappointing to glance at a half-empty house after seeing a particularly moving concert.