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Shostakovich: Symphony No. 13 'Babi Yar' / Alexander Vinogradov, bass; Vasily Petrenko, Royal Liverpool PO & Choir

Album Summary

>Shostakovich, Dmitri : Symphony no 13 in B flat minor, Op. 113 "Babi Yar"
Performer Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Shostakovich wrote his Symphony No. 13, op. 113 in 1962. The climax of his 'Russian period' and, in its scoring for bass soloist, male chorus and orchestra, among the most Mussorgskian of his works, it attracted controversy through its settings of poems by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (the 'Russian Bob Dylan' of his day) - not least the first movement, where the poet underlines the plight of Jews in Soviet society. The other movements are no less pertinent in their observations on the relationship between society and the individual. This is the final release in Vasily Petrenko's internationally acclaimed symphonic cycle. Beginning as its Principal Conductor in 2006, Mr. Petrenko rose to the position of Chief Conductor of the RLPO in 2009. On the Shostakovich 4th: "... nervy, daring, ridiculously off-the-leash performance... " 5 stars (Sinfini Music) "... one of the finest cycles yet recorded." (The Classical Reviewer)

Financial Times, 27th September 2014
A performance crackling with electricity.

The Observer, 5th Observer 2014
The power this performance accumulates at the climaxes of the second and third movement is lacerating; the men's choruses may not sound totally Russian, but Alexander Vinogradov is a superb bass soloist, and Vasily Petrenko is as good at gloomy introspection as he is at brittle confrontation.

Gramophone Magazine, October 2014
Petrenko's nose for characterisation and his often startling attention to the dynamics of the piece make it feel not counterfeit at all but rather something he made earlier in his home city of St Petersburg...[Vinogradov] deploys his haunting head voice to poignant, almost unearthly effect.

BBC Music Magazine, November 2014
Choral shortcomings apart, this makes a fine epilogue to Vasily Petrenko's magnificent Liverpool Shostakovich cycle...Alexander Vinogradov is the finest bass interpreter here since Sergey Alexashkin, with a lithe freshness all his own...do investigate Petrenko's unexpected subtlety and lightness.

The Telegraph, 10th November 2014
With Petrenko's ear for detail and his instincts for symphonic shape and dramatic flux, this is a disc that stands comparison with the generally acknowledged classic 1962 recording by Kirill Kondrashin (recently re-released on Praga), and it does so with pungent emotional force.

American Record Guide, March/April 2015
What I am sure of is that this is an excellent performance - truly competitive with some of the benchmark recordings. Beautiful, expressive, articulate singing from him. Russian is the kind of language that - well, a singer has to be a native to get it just right. The chorus carries a lot of the weight of the piece, and they stand up to it admirably. The orchestra actually recorded this work before with Gerard Schwarz (May/June 2007). Petrenko has a solid handle on the music. This is a recording to stand up next to the classic Solti, Haitink (Decca), and Masur (Teldec).

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, England (09/27/2013-09/29/2013).


Powerful vocal work from Shostakovich, strongly interpreted by Vasily Petrenko
This Symphony, written in 1962 for bass soloist, male chorus, and orchestra is predominately concerned with the relationship between society and the individual (it is Shostakovich, after all) with a focus on the plight of Jews in Soviet society.

The first movement is powerful, telling in song and sound of the atrocities of Babi Yar during the time of the Nazis, as well as the strong feeling of anti-Semitism present in parts of Russia at the time. The music is dark, downward striking, with powerful work bursting forth from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir. This is dark music making on a grand scale, and it is captivating.

The second movement, “Humour”, concerns itself with the resilience of humor even when it is attempting to be squashed or is declared passing. Yet again and again, it reappears, unstoppable. The music from the orchestra is joyously dance-like at first, but huge and energetic in places, thundering forth to drive home the message of the text.

The third movement, “In the Store”, is dark and oppressive, invokes the daily existence of Russian women during that time as the go about their day doing the things that need to be done whether there is joy in the doing or not. Lots of low bass rumbles forth from the orchestra, and the chorus is suitably muted throughout most of the movement.

The fourth movement, “Fears”, is dark and tomb-like with lots of low string work from the orchestra in the beginning. The middle section of the movement features some rather dirge-like output from the chorus that leads into frenetic energy from the string section as a whole, conveying the underlying fear that still remains.

The fifth movement, “A Career”, begins with melodic work from the flutes that is slightly brighter, but then the music becomes somewhat sardonic and the text speaks of Galileo and others that were ridiculed and scorned, although near the end of the text is this: “They’re forgotten, those who hurled curses, but we remember the ones who were cursed.”. The movement ends with the statement, “I’ll follow my career in such a way that I’m not following it!”, much as Shostakovich did himself at times due to the circumstances in which he found himself.

The liner notes are well written and informative, providing historical background as well as the text of the performance. The biographical material on Alexander Vinogradov (bass) is typical, but I cannot stress enough that his precise bass work on this recording is *excellent*. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Vasily Petrenko, is similarly outstanding. While the music of Shostakovich is certainly not for everyone, this performance has texture, depth, and meaning, and is a wonderful achievement for the soloist, chorus, orchestra, and conductor. Highly recommended for the Shostakovich enthusiast.

Submitted on 12/10/14 by KlingonOpera 
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Works Details

>Shostakovich, Dmitri : Symphony no 13 in B flat minor, Op. 113 "Babi Yar"
  • Performer: Alexander Vinogarov
  • Conductor: Vasily Petrenko
  • Ensemble: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir
  • Notes: Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, England (09/27/2013-09/29/2013)
  • Running Time: 58 min. 55 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1962