Coming on the heels of The New Yorker's recent rave for Osmo Vanska ("a conductor of genius") and the Minnesota Orchestra (sounds like "the greatest orchestra in the world"), it's a bit of a shock to see a Philadelphia writer bring the Finnish-born, Twin Cities-based conductor down a notch.
But that's the case in the critic Peter Dobrin's review of Vanska's recent guest turn leading the renowned Phladelphia Orchestra.
Dobrin, a classical critic at the Philadelphia Inquirer, heard Osmo lead a program on March 12 that included Sibelius' Symphony No. 2. Referrring to the Sibelius, Dobrin wrote, "to anyone whose ear was set by any of the three Ormandy recordings of the work, Vänskä's interpretation may sound more like an act of perfidy than revelation."
Vanska has a proclivity for emphasizing extreme contrasts in the music, per Dobrin, and "does not have an ear for...important ensemble elements." To him, "Vanska was terribly nervous."
"The school of thought that mistakes faster tempos for insight never seemed more hollow," wrote Dobrin, again referring to the Sibelius symphony.