SIMON Trpčeski, the piano soloist from
Skopje in , made
a welcome return to the Bridgewater Hall on Monday night, playing Rachmaninov’s
second piano concerto with the Oslo Philharmonic. Macedonia
His playing was exemplary – no surprise, as we heard him play the first Rachmaninov here with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic in 2010, and he was a ‘one to watch’ visitor to the Hallé shortly afterwards – but his most beautiful gesture came after the concerto had finished.
Instead of a conventional show-off solo encore, he played accompanist to the orchestra’s peerless principal cellist, Louisa Tuck, in Rachmaninov’s lovely Vocalise (an In Memoriam, for him, to a close relative). There are few international pianists who would do that.
The concerto’s realization was, I think, a joint product of his ability and the Russian instincts and training of the Oslo Philharmonic’s chief conductor, Vasily Petrenko (also the man in charge of a certain orchestra down the road in
It came up fresh and bright, with warm and velvety string tone and seriously impressive brass playing. The famous second movement (forever linked with Carnforth railway station for those who’ve seen the film, Brief Encounter) was eloquent in its melancholy, with song-like contributions from the wind and string players and articulation that was disciplined and expressive at the same time.
I guess that’s one of Vasily Petrenko’s greatest strengths – the slow tempo movements in this concert were among the most exquisitely phrased and well sustained of any I’ve heard. He likes to go for broke in some fast sections, too – witness the fugal part of the concerto’s third movement – but the last time round on the big tune was a noble finale.
This was the opener of a short
tour for the Oslo Philharmonic, and they began with a tiny piece by Grieg – I
suppose they had to. Gangar, one item from the Lyric Suite, was also notable
for the weighty, centrally-placed brass. UK
But the music they’d really come to show us was Mahler’s fifth symphony. It held attention from beginning to end, particularly thrilling in the very stormy second movement, and with a skilfully moulded scherzo – Petrenko was kind to his trumpet player, who has the unenviable task of playing a high solo at minimal volume level.
He also brought out plaintive eloquence and soaring beauty from the strings in the ‘Death In Venice’ Adagietto, and gave us a good old-fashioned acceleration towards the end of the last movement, making its final paean one of triumph indeed.