Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham, 4****: by William Ruff



Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra


March 7 2019


Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham




Review: William Ruff



Sumptuous sound and unbuttoned emotion from Oslo


I’m not sure whether it was the Oslo Philharmonic or their conductor Vasily Petrenko who packed out the Royal Concert Hall on Thursday.  Perhaps it was both.  But I do know that there were at least two ladies in the audience who swapped their posh seats in the first tier for the choir stalls so that they could get a better look at the boyish, blonde-haired maestro.

Petrenko has only just left his post in Liverpool where he got the local orchestra to outplay the Russians when it came to Tchaikovsky.  He’s clearly weaving his spell in Oslo too.  The evening started with the Romeo and Juliet overture where the sound was sumptuous and the emotion unbuttoned.  The introduction was darkly brooding, the fight music exploded with fiercely focused energy and the great love theme sang its way from touching tenderness to tragic passion.

The emotional temperature remained high in Rachmaninov’s 3rd Piano Concerto in which Nicolai Lugansky was soloist.  In the opening movement the music was kept taut, never allowed to wallow in nostalgia, the deceptively simple opening theme ushering in an explosion of overwhelming power and energy.  The slow movement had all the soulful lyricism one could ask for – and the dazzling finale (with its great rolling wave of a tune at the end) tested not only Lugansky’s jaw-dropping virtuosity but his muscle power as well.

After the interval came Sibelius’ 5th Symphony, a work which the Oslo players must have in their bloodstream.  Petrenko pushed the music to extremes; indeed the explosive rush to end of the first movement left the audience audibly gasping.  As did the six massive hammer blows that end the work.

Encores were inevitable: Grieg’s Morning Mood (predictable but no less welcome) and a Brahms Hungarian Dance.  The audience loved it all.




Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra

Vasily Petrenko (conductor)

Nicolai Lugansky (piano)

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