April 16, 2021

Vasili Petrenko, another gifted Russian on the podium | Culture

Vasili Petrenko, another gifted Russian on the podium | Culture



Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra

Works by Brahms and Rimski-Kórsakov. Simon Trpčeski, piano. Vasili Petrenko, address. XXIV Season of Great Autumn Concerts. Auditorium of Zaragoza, February 1.

For Schumann, the piano sonatas of Johannes Brahms they were "disguised symphonies", but Wagner he saw his orchestral compositions as "transvestite" chamber music. Such a paradox finds explanation in his two piano concertos. For example, in the First, which began as a youth sonata for two pianos, in 1854, and came to concert after passing an intermediate stage as a symphony. But also in the Second where it reveals, already with 48 years, its genuine hybrid concept that integrates the soloist as a character more than a dramatic argument. There are several scholars who have highlighted the narrative capacity of Brahms' music. Something that, in this opus 83, acquires clearly autobiographical dyes.

At the beginning of the concert we heard the voice of Nature, with that serene solo of the horn, which the young virtuoso answers on the piano with increasing arrogance, until it unleashes an imposing march. But both the Oslo Philharmonic, under the direction of the Russian Vasili Petrenko (St. Petersburg, 1976), and the Macedonian pianist Simon Trpčeski (Skopje, 1979), started this second Brahmin concert, yesterday at the Zaragoza Auditorium, more interested in performing the score that in telling a story. In the first movement, Trpčeski worked harder to embed awkwardly the tremendous cascades of brahmins notes than to dialogue with the orchestra. Something improved with Petrenko in the transition to the re-exposure, but Trpčeski did not take the glove and followed the same course. Nor did anything change in the scherzo, where Brahms reflects on the failure of his First concert, in the same key (D minor), and even relives Schumann's traumatic suicide attempt. Here the Macedonian pianist continued with his rough portrait of the soloist, and neither did the Russian director highlight the crucial contrast of the trio, with that Händelian tinge, which represents the discovery of ancient music as the aesthetic salvation of the present.

The Walking It was much better and we saw, finally, that diffuse portrait of his love passion for Clara Schumann. Brahms not only imitates here the use of the solo violoncello wrapped by the piano, which Clara already uses in the slow movement of her own youth Concert for piano, but the subject seems to come from his Lied titled Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer ("Light becomes my dream"), op. 105 no. 2. The cellist Louisa Tuck displayed, in her beautiful solo, that almost vocal tone that inspired Trpčeski the highest moment of all her performance. But the love story has no happy ending, as we hear later, with those clarinets citing a passage from Todessehnen ("Longing for death"), op. 86 no. 6., which was another exquisite orchestral fragment in the hands of Petrenko. The final movement ends the concert in other directions, as Brahms takes refuge in the delight of light music, halfway between the zigzag winks and the air of the Liebeslieder-Walzer, where Trpčeski and Petrenko returned to the superficiality of the beginning.

The Macedonian pianist presented the audience, as a tip, with a Norwegian nod: the rigodón of the famous Holberg Suite, by Edvard Grieg, in its original version for piano. It was another musically unrefined interpretation, but it served to remember the celebratory aspect of this concert: the Oslo Philharmonic ended the Spanish tour with Ibermúsica in which it celebrated its centenary. And he did it in a big way. With an exceptional version of Scheherazade (or Shejerezada), by Rimski-Kórsakov, the famous symphonic suite based on Arabian Nights, 1888, and one of the most relevant Russian orientalist compositions. Petrenko -now he- exhibited his narrative skills at the head of an orchestra, which he has headed since 2013, and which has returned to the level of excellence he had with his compatriot Mariss Jansons. We could see it in the start that sounded overwhelming in the magnificent acoustics of the Sala Mozart of the Saragossa auditorium. We are introduced to the brutal Sultan Shahriar and, after the spell of a Mendelssohnian flute, his wife, Princess Sheherazade, with his famous violin solo, who played admirably the concertina, Elise Båtnes, in all its more or less virtuosic manifestations. throughout the entire work. The Russian director masterfully handled the tempi and found in wood and rope excellent allies to give life to his precise, intense and colorful vision of this symphonic suite.

The best of the night came with the final movement. Petrenko masterfully built the varied crescendo where each section of the orchestra finds its brilliance, within a context increasingly seasoned by percussion. Then the sea breaks, that overflows everything, until we hear the climate tam-tam that represents the final shipwreck. All that remained was to return to reality, with the help of the soloist violin and the aforementioned Mendelssohnian flutes, but where the protagonist always pronounces the final word to save her life. After the ovations of the public, the concert ended with two tips. The first was another national tribute of the centennial orchestra with Norway's most popular symphonic work: Dawn of Peer Gynt, of Grieg, where the flute soloist of the orchestra, the Extremaduran Francisco López, played a leading role. The second allowed to return to the sensational symphonic colorism of Rimsky-Kórsakov, with the Dance of the titireteros, of the third act of his opera The Snow Maiden. Vasili Petrenko, who has seen his last name colliding in recent years with the imminent holder of the Berlin Philharmonic – with whom he has no kinship – remains one of the most talented Russian directors of today. There is not one Petrenko good and another not so much, but two exceptional.

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