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Classical Notes

Osmo Vanska: One man's meat...

Posted at 7:57 AM on March 26, 2012 by John Birge

Minnesota Orchestra conductor Osmo Vanska is famous for his intense attention to detail. Recent opinion seems divided on the relative merits of that approach. Is God in the details, or is it fussy micro-management? Critics take both sides lately:

Mark Swed in the LA Times on Osmo's first gig with the LA Phil: :
"I would be surprised if Vänskä were to be invited back any time soon.
That is not to say that Vänskä is unimpressive or that he failed to win over the majority of his audience. ... He exposed inner details and emphasized dramatically sudden shifts of dynamics. He expressed extreme contrasts between vulgarity and delicacy. He insisted that his every idiosyncratic fancy be followed... The L.A. Phil prides itself on its flexibility, but musical bondage is another matter, and the players sounded constrained having to tie themselves in Vänskä knots."

The Herald of Scotland on Osmo's new Sibelius Symphony CD with the MInnesota Orchestra:
"Oh my goodness, was this worth waiting for. If there is such a phenomenon as an instant classic, then it is the first volume of Osmo Vanska's new Sibelius cycle ...
What is gripping and magical in these performances is the combination of forensic detail with epic sweep that Vanska brings to the music.
The Minnesota playing is out of this world, and Vanska, with a fantastic suppleness in his pacing, has secured a clarity of playing from his American strings that is mind-boggling. There is revelation upon revelation here; it is scorchingly honest and straight to the heart."