Having heard the live performance given by these forces in Liverpool in January 2012 I am pleased to say at the outset that this recording lives up to the expectations I had at that time. It is a very fine interpretation.
For too long, Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony has been used as a musical battering ram in the concert hall and this performance shows just how good it can be when given a sympathetic and well thought out reading.
Much has been written about what Shostakovich’s real intentions were when writing this work, was it just a rallying cry to the beleaguered Russian people under siege from Hitler or is it also a requiem for the dark days of Stalinist repression. He certainly knew what is was like to come under the scrutiny of the Communist Party and he used later symphonies to give a covert message of hope to all Russian artists.
Petrenko has admirably conveyed the complexity and the pathos of this symphony in a way seldom achieved by other more starry conductors and the result is a finely paced unfolding of the drama from the whisper of the strings to the full orchestral tutti with driving brass and percussion and wailing woodwind giving a terrifying account of the horrors of war.
Petrenko gets a febrile quality out of the strings in the quiet contemplative passages of the inner movements and the sound world is not only moving but makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
This performance deserves to be in every orchestral music lover’s collection and Petrenko is building what may well be the first symphony cycle on Naxos which is comparable to any other record label past or present. And, at half the price. With sound as good as performance and value, it’s an easy recommendation.
Release Date: April 29, 2013
Artist: Vasily Petrenko, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
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