Another Russian evening ahead… no surprises there…The programme started with Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite (1919). It’s been more than a year since I heard the full version so it was time to refresh my memory. It is still hard to imagine that it is one of those piece stirring the critics back in the days. The expressiveness of the music is just so beautiful and even without dancers the mind can very easily imagine its own choreography.
Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 4 followed. Leif Ove Andsnes was the soloist. A good friend of mine (a Norwegian) told me sweet little story just before the concert: at a national chess championship some 20 odd years ago he was introducing a violin player who was about to take to the stage and when he turned around someone had sneaked onto the piano stool behind him – none other than Leif Ove Andsnes. Rest assured that he did not sneak on for the concert 😉 Whilst I listen to Rachs Piano Concertos on a regular basis I usually stick with number 2, maybe number 3 but very rarely it is number 4, especially since Prokofievs came along… nevertheless, the performance was spectacular! A nordic orchestra with a nordic soloist under a Russian conductor playing Rach – the emotional intensity can’t get any better than this!
The evening concluded with Shostakovich’s 12th Symphony “The Year 1917”. This Lenin Symphony is a rather powerful piece. Starting as quite some whirlwind it has a very majestic feel to it and it is undeniably Russian!
The Oslo Philharmonic were put through their paces by Vasily Petrenko. I very much like his style of conduting – he is very energetic and has a deep understanding for the music. With this particular symphony it almost felt like Lenin himself was going to walk in after the end of the performance. The oppulent space of RAH certainly provided the perfect stage for this revolutionary – in more than one way – piece. Another spectacular evening! Some orchestra somewhere should plan a marathon of all Shostakovich Symphonies – would make an interesting feat….