Vasily Petrenko named as new head of Oslo Philharmonic

Martin Cullingford17th Feb 2011
Vasily Petrenko takes up Oslo post: (photo: Mark McNulty)Vasily Petrenko takes up Oslo post: (photo: Mark McNulty)

Good news for the Oslo Philharmonic, but how will it be received in Liverpool now that they'll be sharing their beloved conductor with another city? The Norwegian orchestra has built an enviable reputation under the consecutive leaderships of Mariss Jansons, André Previn and most recently Jukka-Pekka Saraste. And in landing the 34 year-old Russian Vasily Petrenko as their new music director they have scored a coup.

Petrenko, past winner of Gramophone’s Young Artist of the Year award and of two subsequent Gramophone awards, is widely considered to be one of the most outstanding of the younger generation of conductors (and at a time when brilliant young conductors seem to almost grow on trees). His work with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, where he has been music director since 2005, has seen that orchestra enter something of a golden age – of their recent Shostakovich Symphony No 10 recording for Naxos, Gramophone critic David Fanning wrote, "[This joins] the earlier Karajan account as the most satisfying I could name…If there has been a finer account in recent years, I confess I must have missed it; and I would be surprised".

Oslo will become the third orchestra under Petrenko’s guidance – he also leads the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. So, even given the conductor’s famous powers of concentration, there may be some slightly nervous faces at Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall. Yet, if there had been no rumours preceding Petrenko’s new job, there is at least a tangential historic connection to the orchestra – Jansons, the band’s longest-serving chief conductor, was something of a mentor to Petrenko when he lived in St Petersburg. Petrenko takes up the post in August 2013.

James Inverne

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