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Inner Detail

Beethoven and Tchaikovsky from
Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic,
enjoyed by MIKE WHEELER


You can see (or, more accurately, hear) why Vasiliy Petrenko has been making waves as the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra's Principal Conductor since he took up the post two years ago. On paper this had every appearance of an unimaginatively routine programme (Assembly Rooms, Derby, UK, 23 September 2008), but the reality was quite different.

Petrenko's alert ear for inner detail is what particularly impresses. Beethoven's Coriolan Overture had both a clarity of texture and a dramatic tautness that made you sit up.

Vassiliy Petrenko. Photo © Mark McNulty
Vassiliy Petrenko. Photo © Mark McNulty

Eugene Igorsky was the soloist in a refreshingly invigorating account of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto. His first entry was assured and poised, and his playing in the first movement cadenza was compelling. He does not have a particularly big tone, but in a reading in which everything, including the orchestral contribution, was beautifully scaled this was not a disadvantage. The second movement was quietly unaffected and the finale danced as it should, even though tension was allowed to slacken in quiet episodes.

In Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony the start of the first movement allegro was unusually subdued, but Petrenko's firm grip on the music's structure ensured that every volatile change of emotion was thoughtfully integrated. Again, it was in the inner detail that the performance particularly came alive, including some fleeting dance-like figuration in the woodwind that subtly linked the finale to that of the concerto.

Copyright © 4 October 2008 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK


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