Saturday, December 10, 2011


(source: via the australian)

The SSO's concert year ended with the lively and idiomatic Osmo Vänskä at the helm. I can't remember having seen him before (this being his third visit) but on Friday's showing I'm sure I haven't. He's most memorable. And he happens to be my Sibelius man of choice - Finnish that he is - someone who knows his way around that place, that garden, that house and that soul.

"What secrets of musical emotion does Vänskä possess?" asks a moist eyed Alex Ross. I'm the least to be able to contribute to that question, but whatever he is open to, however he hears a work, he knows how to take the orchestra, and thence us, with him. Thankfully. And it unlikely you've been there before. (I've just given myself this little present for Christmas which fills in a few small holes in my Osmo collection.)

As it was on Friday night - somewhere I'd not been before I mean. The Tchaikovsky Symphonic Ballad, the turbulent disturbing Voyevoda was a first hearing, as was the Prokofiev Symphony-Concerto for cello and orchestra, with a dazzling debut by the American cellist Alisa Weilerstein, and moreover, as was the Eroica, Osmo Vänskä's Erioca that is. It was (cliche warning) like hearing it for the first time. The Allegro con brio was very brio, a startlingly cracking pace to launch this very personal and very satisfying look at an old warhorse, with extraordinary use of dynamics and a perfectly balanced sound shining new light here, there, everywhere. The critics enthuse here and here.

The orchestra has moved into marketing mode for the end of the year and the end of its Mahlerfest. This promo is worth watching just for the much loved Diana Doherty's wide-eyed take on Mahler and Mr Ashkenazy - the 'little duracell bunny'. And, yes, I'm a buyer.

Yet, there's another recording I'd really love - the three new works Osmo Vänskä introduced me to on Friday night, as I think would many in the full hall (its tourist time in town). If only.


Anonymous said...

Yes, wasn't Mr Vänskä good?

I heard the Beethoven on Friday night on the radio so was prepared for something good on Sat, though the Saturday audience didn't give such a roar of applause as Friday's did.

The thing I particularly noticed and liked was how he gave the music energy with a style of early-music-bowingish intra-phrase crescendo which had a sort of bulge in it.

Of course, there was much more than that. How about those wild clarinet and wind moments near the end of the Beethoven third movement, for starters?

wanderer said...

M, I was wondering how it was for you.

He's on my wish list with Wigglesworth.

I just wish I could hear it all again (tous les trois) not having set up to record the programme in advance. If only the broadcast had been Saturday.

Wild is a good word in the best sense, like a fantastic stallion from full gallop to perfect stillness, nostrils flared.