by Melanie Wong
Photo credit: Benjamin Ealovega
Last week on the intimate stage of Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, Jonathan Biss, in collaboration with the Elias String Quartet, explored the role of the piano within a chamber-music setting. A prominent North American soloist in his own right, Biss and ESQ have maintained a musical friendship, recently recording an album of Schumann and Dvořák quintets together.
The program opened with a perfectly executed chamber rendition of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 13. While incredibly light and stylistic, Biss’s performance of the Mozart lacked some presence and the overall dynamics left the audience wanting; while the pianissimos were incredible, the forte sections were far less grand than they could have been. Biss used the soft pedal throughout, an artistic choice that allowed for extreme control over the instrument, but greatly dampened the sound. The soft and simple second movement, however, was delivered with great nuance.