2017: the year in review
Feng brings 2017 to a close on 31 December, performing Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A minor in the northern Chinese city of Harbin with the Harbin Symphony Orchestra and conductor Tang Muhai. The concert is the last in another successful year for Feng, who began 2017 with a return to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in January to play Elgar’s Violin Concerto under the baton of Carlos Miguel Prieto – click here to watch extracts from the performance.
After two performances of Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in Lucerne with the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra and James Gaffigan in March, Feng joined the Hong Kong Philharmonic for a highly successful tour of Asia and Australia in April. Performing under the baton of Jaap van Zweden, the tour visited Seoul, Osaka, Singapore, Melbourne and finally Sydney, where the orchestra was making its debut. During the tour, Feng performed Bartók Violin Concerto No.2 in Asia and Mozart Violin Concerto No.4 in Australia. The concert in Sydney was a great critical success:
“Feng displayed a gorgeous light touch with faultless intonation and deft bowing married to a sweet tone. The melodic lines were all smooth and beautifully shaped and, unusually, he happily added his Stradivarius to the ensemble parts when not soloing.”
“… it was unfailingly sensitive to the many fine nuances of this work. His tone was mesmerizingly velvety, particularly in the lower registers of his instrument.”
“[Ning’s] bright, substantial tone stood out clear as a bell, while his sensible pacing made for a cleanly realised reading. He was at his finest in the singing Andante cantabile, his excellent legato smooth as butter and his sense of communion intense. Rich at the bottom, and with some charmingly executed suspensions at the top, this was fine Mozart”
The autumn featured another highly successful tour for Feng as he joined the China NCPA Orchestra on tour in the United States. Feng performed Zhao Jiping’s Violin Concerto No.1 on the tour, part of an eclectic set of programmes that also feature Brahms Symphony No.4, Sibelius Symphony No.2 and two modern concertos: Chen Qigang’s Reflet d’un temps disparu for cello and orchestra and American composer Lou Harrison’s Pipa Concerto, which spotlights the traditional Chinese instrument. The tour visited Chicago’s Symphony Center, Verizon Hall in Philadelphia and New York’s Carnegie Hall. During the tour, Feng recorded a Facebook Live interview for the Violin Channel – click here to watch.
Feng was also busy in the chamber sphere this year. 2017 saw the release of his first album with his Dragon Quartet, which featured Dvorák’s American String Quartet and Schubert’s Death and the Maiden. Released on Channel Classics, De Volkskrant praised the quartet’s “muscular” Schubert and the “wistfulness” of their Dvorák, while Audiophile Audition praised it as “a tremendous debut”. Elsewhere in the chamber sphere, Feng spent much of August at the Moritzburg Festival in Germany, performing chamber music with partners including Lawrence Power and Jan Vogler, the artistic director of the festival. During the autumn he performed Schubert trios in Switzerland and at London’s Wigmore Hall alongside Igor Levitt, Daniel Müller-Schott, Nicholas Angelich and Edgar Moreau.