Edinburgh International Festival music review: Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Ken Walton.
Within seconds we knew this was going to be something special. The opening Prelude, part of a sequence of movements selected from Grieg’s Peer Gynt suites, is itself a menagerie of colour and vitality. Played by the Oslo Philharmonic, under its Russian-born conductor Vasily Petrenko, it was immediately clear these qualities are everywhere inherent in the orchestra’s DNA.
The entire programme was a masterclass in tonal balance and precision. In all the Grieg movements, from the wedding scenes (complete with virtuosic Hardanger-style viola solo) to Morning, the haunting pianissimo of The Death of Åse to the mischievous exoticism of the Arabian Dance, and the ultimate riot that is In the Hall of the Mountain King, Petrenko elicited the most magical and evocative of touches from an orchestra that responds as one to his charisma.
Little surprise that Rachmaninov’s Symphony No 2 bore the same fresh exuberance. It was interesting to watch Petrenko, whose metronomic right hand is the precision tool, his looser left hand and fluttering fingers shaping the inner subtleties. That way, he could match the broad sweep of Rachmaninov’s grand symphonic edifice
with a probing, spontaneous delivery of its golden melodies and crashing climaxes. Sensational.
Main image: Bo Mathisen
Published in The Scotsman on 17 August 2015
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