By Claude Peck
Osmo Vanska's two-week stint as guest conductor with the San Francisco Symphony won high praise from critics there.
Georgia Rowe, the reviewer at the website San Francisco Classical Voice, cited the Osmo-led performance of "Slonimsky's Earbox," by John Adams as "absolutely thrilling." This was the first time the bravura piece, which the MO toured to Europe earlier this year, had been played there, an oddity given Adams' long association with the SF Symphony.
Here's link to the full review on Classical Voice.
There was quite a bit of Beethoven on the second of his two programs, including both the Symphony No. 8 and the Coriolan overture. Vanska and the SFS gave the latter "dark dramatic fervor," wrote Joshua Kosman in the San Francisco Chronicle. He continued, "The Eighth Symphony was, if anything, even more dynamic and athletic (Vänskä launched the opening with a full-body convulsion that made me think he'd stepped on a live electric wire). The rhythms were crisply etched, and the orchestra's robust playing contributed to the impact of the performance."
Kosman loved both the first week and the second, faulting only one piece over the two weekends.
Vanska is back at Orchestra Hall with the MO this Thursday through Saturday, conducting the MO in a program that includes the world premiere of a work by Finnish composer Kalevi Aho.