Vasily Petrenko and Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra return to Edinburgh International Festival on Thursday 16 August with a programme of compositions shaped by aspects of love.
“Petrenko elicited the most magical and evocative of touches from an orchestra that responds as one to his charisma.” The Scotsman, Edinburgh International Festival August 2015
One of the most dynamic and exciting partnerships in the orchestral world returns to the Edinburgh International Festival on Thursday 16 August to perform a compelling programme of works by Richard Strauss and Prokofiev. The Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra and its Chief Conductor, Vasily Petrenko, received audience ovations and critical acclaim following their last Edinburgh outing three years ago. Festival followers are set to hear orchestra and conductor at Usher Hall again this summer and experience the energy of music made with enormous emotional conviction, precise technical discipline and breathtaking virtuosity. Their concert opens with Strauss’s spectacular tone poem Don Juan and unfolds with the composer’s Four Lieder Op.27, with rising-star soprano Lise Davidsen as soloist. The second programme’s half is devoted to Prokofiev’s Symphony No.6, a work haunted by personal tragedy and the stark realities of life in the post-war Soviet Union.
“It’s a tremendous privilege for me once more to be part of the Edinburgh International Festival with the Oslo Philharmonic,” comments Vasily Petrenko. “We will perform works in different styles by two of the great masters of orchestration.” Petrenko and his Norwegian orchestra recently took Don Juan into the studio as part of the Oslo Philharmonic’s project to record Strauss’s complete tone poems. Their album of Ein Heldenleben and Also sprach Zarathustra, is set for release on the LAWO Classics label in May, with Don Juan to follow later this year. “This music is in the orchestra’s bloodstream now,” the conductor comments.
Lise Davidsen scored rave reviews for her British stage debut in the title role of Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos at last year’s Glyndebourne Festival. The lyric dramatic soprano marks her first appearance at the Edinburgh International Festival with Strauss’s Four Lieder Op.27, a collection of sublime songs compiled as a wedding gift and dedicated by the composer to his ‘beloved Pauline’. “We performed these songs with Lise in Oslo at the beginning of this year” notes Vasily Petrenko, “and I look forward to exploring them with her again in Edinburgh. She’s an amazing singer with a fantastic voice. She has this rare ability to project through the orchestra without ever forcing the sound. You hear the warmth and the soul of her voice without hearing the effort.”
Ingrid Røynesdal, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra’s Chief Executive Officer, underlines the importance of performing at the Edinburgh International Festival. “This is a very special concert for us,” she notes. “We were inspired to receive an invitation to return to Edinburgh so soon after our last visit there in 2015. It’s one of our favourite places to be and is an important part of our international touring programme. We’re also proud that Lise Davidsen will join us for her festival debut. She’s a remarkable artist, a true rising star with such a powerful, extraordinary voice and great presence.”
The Oslo Philharmonic’s trip to Edinburgh marks the start of a busy period for the orchestra as its prepares to celebrate its centenary in 2019. Its anniversary year coincides with the opening of the new National Museum and the new Munch Museum in Oslo and growing international interest in the cultural life of Norway’s capital. “Our centenary gives us this fantastic opportunity to make a big step up in international terms while we also reach out more broadly into our local region,” comments Røynesdal. “The idea is to be seen and heard at home and abroad, to draw attention to the orchestra with special projects and exciting events. We have held this anniversary year in mind for some time and are working towards it with concerts such as the one we will give in Edinburgh.”
Vasily Petrenko is certain that the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra is ready to enter its second century in top form. “The orchestra was already great, but I believe we have improved in so many ways,” he reflects. “This process of improvement in the orchestra and in myself is endless; every time we work together, we find new details and emotions. The biggest change, though, is that we are now much closer to our audience. That was my goal from the start of my first season in 2013. We embrace the audience and the audience embraces us. We’re doing many social projects, school visits and outdoor concerts, and have expanded the repertoire to include more early and contemporary works. And we are building momentum towards our centenary year in 2019. Our dream about a new concert hall is alive, especially after seeing how the new opera house in Oslo has become such an attraction and transformed the local area. We hope to have made an agreement with the city authorities for a new concert hall in time for our 100th anniversary.”