Shostakovich - Symphony No. 10. Petrenko/Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

by admin on August 13, 2011 · 4 comments

in Classical Recordings

by Anthony Kershaw

This new Naxos series of Shostakovich is turning out to be very exciting. Naxos has released five volumes with more on the way. They are all getting good reviews. I’ve heard the First Symphony — it’s superb. And now this 10th, one for the ages and comparable with the very best.

The RLPO’s young Russian conductor Vasily Petrenko has made a huge impact on the musical life of Merseyside. As principal conductor for the past six years (and contracted ’till 2015), he has led them in highly regarded performances at the orchestra’s home, Philharmonic Hall, an amazing Albert Hall BBC Prom last year with a blazing Manfred, and recording on both Naxos and DG (Hilary Hahn’s superb Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with equally wonderful accompaniment from Petrenko and the RLPO).

He has trained a good provincial orchestra into playing out of its boots. It’s not just the technical, but the musical, too. The phrasing in this 10th is exquisite, the ensemble is very fine, and the musicality heartbreaking. So many examples. The crazy Scherzo demonstrating equally crazy string section ensemble, woodwind solos galore that ache in intensity while played with grace and flawless intonation, and not forgetting the very powerful brass and percussion.

Petrenko makes me think anew about phrasing — listen to the accents and staccatos in the woodwinds at the opening of the third movement. The solo lines of the fourth movement’s introduction. Incisive strings heard by me for the first time in an already busy and orchestrally complicated scherzo.

Can you purchase the Petrenko and not feel badly that you didn’t get Karajan’s seminal 1st or even better 2nd recording? Yes. It’s that good. And for less than 10 bucks!

I remember a buddy of mine telling me how Svetlanov lectured the LPO for half the rehearsal on how to play Russian music. In the Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky I’ve heard Petrenko conduct, maybe there is some truth in the maxim of conductors and the special relationship with composers of their own country. He certainly has some wonderful gifts to offer us in his countryman’s music.

And, if there a few audiophiles reading, yes, this brilliant reading of the 20th Century’s greatest symphony gets an equally amazing recording. Messrs. Walton and Rowlands capture the ‘Phil’ acoustics beautifully. The recording is tight as a drum — more controlled than strictured. It lets the listener hear the solos in a beautiful space and allows all the musicians to display the complete control that Petrenko elicits from his wonderful orchestra.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Justin Craigon 08.14.11 at 3:01 am

On the strength of the reviews of this I took a punt and was impressed. Impressed enough to buy the rest of the series. I’m not familiar with the pieces so can’t review the performances, but the recordings are excellent. Some great dynamic sweeps and decent soundstaging. Well worth the 5 quid - or 10 bucks :)

admin 08.14.11 at 7:32 am

Great stuff, Justin. And welcome.

I’m looking forward to his 4th. I’ll request his 5th and 8th, too. His 1st is a knockout.

Cheers, a

roy harris 08.14.11 at 11:22 am

hi anthony:

are you suggesting that you prefer these naxos recordings to performances led by other conductors ?

that is, of the compositions you have listed are the interpretations the best you have heard ?

i value your comments as you are a musician, so your analyses are more authoritative than those of us who are not professional musicians

admin 08.14.11 at 12:18 pm

Thank you for the kind words.

Up to now, the two recordings IMO that captured the essence of Shostakovich 10 with the most fabulous orchestra was Karajan and BPO on DG. His analogue recording was absolutely amazing and the digital remake about 99.9% of the analogue version. That the provincial RLPO comes close (although under the microscope, not headphones, there are a few very minor woodwind ensemble inaccuracies) is quite a miracle. I also love Karajan’s interpretations.

But this guy Petrenko is the real deal. His accompaniment of the Tchikovsky Concerto is wonderful. So many musical moments — and not like many other conductors who use effect for effect’s sake.

There are so many musical moments in the 10th, is such good recording, and is played so well, it’s easily worth twice the price.

Cheers, a

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