Russian fare tonight from the Oslo Philharmonic and chief conductor Vasily Petrenko, and what better time than the centenary of the Russian Revolution to revive the least often heard among Shostakovich’s symphonies. With its subtitle ‘The Year 1917’ and dedication to the memory of Lenin, the Twelfth was coolly received outside of Soviet circles and unheard at the Proms since 1963. Forging its four continuous movements into a fluid and cumulative entity, while stressing its evocation of time and place without descending into mere bathos, Petrenko secured a depth and even eloquence almost equal to its propagandist conception.
Earlier, Leif Ove Andsnes gave a dextrous and insightful account of Rachmaninov’s Fourth Concerto, itself a work which took several decades to come in from the cold. His restrained, occasionally aloof pianism was well-suited to this most unpredictable of the cycle, at its best in the baleful ruminations of the slow movement then the capricious high-jinx of the finale.
Petrenko was steadfast in support, having commenced the programme with a scintillating rendition of the suite which Stravinsky devised in 1919 from The Firebird. Now that the full ballet has become ubiquitous, this was a timely reminder that less really can be more.