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Praise for Oslo Philharmonic at BBC Proms

Standing ovations and rave reviews for the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra and its conductor Vasily Petrenko at their recent BBC Proms appearance.

Early September saw the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra appearing at the Royal Albert Hall during the BBC Proms with its new director Vasily Petrenko and Norwegian pianist Christian Ihle Hadland, playing a repertoire of Beethoven, Bruckner, Tchaikovsky, Szymanowski and Rachmaninov

The first reviews of the BBC Proms concerts are now in and make for pleasant reading:

The Arts Desk declares the performance: ‘… undoubtedly one of the best concerts of the season.’

Writes The Telegraph’s Geoffrey Norris: ‘Under Vasily Petrenko’s artful direction, these performances were colourful and crisply articulated.

… the performance made its mark, particularly in the wealth of detail that Petrenko elicited from Rachmaninov’s orchestral palette, crisply articulated and luminous of colour. And these were qualities that also distinguished the other two works in the programme, Tchaikovsky’s First Symphony and Szymanowski’s First Violin Concerto.
This is the Szymanowski of 1916, when he can be heard as a fellow-traveller alongside Stravinsky, Bartók and Prokofiev. But the hypnotic, sensuous accent of the music is Szymanowski’s own, and the orchestra and soloist, Baiba Skride, were united in finding a beguiling, scintillating tone of voice. Orchestral characterisation was of a comparable finesse in Tchaikovsky’s “Winter Daydreams” Symphony. With textures enlivened by rippling woodwind and with Tchaikovsky’s youthful fugal obsessions deftly negotiated, this was a highly cultivated performance, achieving an ideal equilibrium between balletic delicacy, lyrical charm and rhythmic zest.’

The London Evening Standard chimes in: …the entire orchestra emerged with credit, as it did too in a buoyant account of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat, with fellow-Norwegian Christian Ihle Hadland as the sparkling soloist.
The hunting horn calls of the Bruckner develop into more heroic brass tuttis, sharply profiled by Petrenko. But it was the execution of what comes in between those tuttis that put the capital R in the “Romantic” of the composer’s own designation of the work.

Elsewhere the clearer, more ethereal textures — solo flute prominent — sounded idyllic. Bruckner used to be routinely coupled with Mahler and these moments had a rusticity that was Mahlerian without the irony.
The more elegiac framework of the slow movement was upholstered with the sonorities of muted strings, their phrasing tapered to perfection.
The Independent is equally positive in their review: ‘There’s something intriguing about the young Norwegian pianist Christian Ihle Hadland: his musicality is very subtle, and no other pianist can match his poised and pearlised touch. But since his London performances had hitherto been confined to chamber music, Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto with the Oslo Philharmonic under Osmo Vanska would be different sort of test.

The surprise was that he turned that into chamber music too. His passage-work during the work had an intimacy one doesn’t normally associate with Beethoven’s concertos, and he gave the cadenza a musing quality. The lovely dialogue between piano and orchestra in the Adagio was lifted into something magical, an effect only possible when soloist, conductor, and orchestra have worked together as long as these have done. Hadland’s encore, a Byrd Galliard, was a typically left-field choice.

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