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Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 6 & 12 / Petrenko

Album Summary

>Shostakovich, Dmitri : Symphony no 6 in B minor, Op. 54
>Shostakovich, Dmitri : Symphony no 12 in D minor, Op. 112 "To the Memory of Lenin - 1917"
Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Shostakovich's Sixth and Twelfth Symphonies both had their origins in large-scale projects about Lenin, though the Sixth was one of the composer's most abstract and idiosyncratic symphonies. The long, intensely lyrical and meditative slow movement that opens the work is one of the composer's most striking. The Twelfth, one of the least played of Shostakovich's symphonies in the West, became less a celebration of Lenin's legacy than a chronological depiction of events during the Bolshevik Revolution. 'The playing is fabulously crisp and committed, while the interpretations combine atmosphere and a sense of proportion - to the benefit of the youthful First, which receives an eerily effective performance, free of exaggeration.' (Financial Times on Naxos 8572396 / Symphonies Nos. 1 and 3)

"The RLPO woodwinds excel themselves in these gripping readings." -The Sunday Times

"Petrenko makes weird and wonderful sense of both...The RLPO’s sense of attack carries all before it, and the eerie Adagio [of No. 12] is traversed with subtlety and finesse. This symphony may not be top-drawer music, but by treating it seriously rather than as the soundtrack for a Bolshevik newsreel, Petrenko and the RLPO do Shostakovich a big favour." -The Financial Times

"Petrenko leaves his stamp on the performances through his insight into the characteristics of each work...One particularly impressive feature is the fact that Petrenko seems to have instilled such a “Russian” sound into the players...Petrenko’s sense of the music’s structure is sure, both in the Sixth Symphony and in the Twelfth" -The Daily Telegraph

American Record Guide
Petrenko seems very sure of his intentions with Shostakovich. These recordings will appeal to many listeners, and the orchestra is on the top of their game. His Sixth is excellent, a sure keeper; the 12th is too - with all its bombast and glory...

this work seems to have been calculated to please the Soviet government and to put the composer in its good graces... [Petrenko]... makes no apologies for this symphony. He does not impose an ex post facto interpretation upon it. He plays it cleanly and with the excitement of an amusement park ride that puts its riders in no danger, even if it makes their pulses race.

The concept release in the works that have been released to date does not change one iota in the interpretations of the two symphonies contained in this record. That is, this is a good bill Shostakovich, correctly exposed, and which has been stripped of any extra-musical element, which is difficult in many cases, particularly in the Twelfth

MusicWeb International
He captures all the power and bleakness of the opening movement with a tempo that is slower than most. The playing of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic is beyond reproach. I have listened to it several times and, though the ending is almost too bombastic to bear, Petrenko brings out all kinds of detail to make the work interesting... I know I will turn to Petrenko just to appreciate what he has done to make the symphony palatable. I won't be tossing out my Haitink recording of these symphonies, but Petrenko's accounts must now take pride of place. At budget price, this disc is unmissable.

performances are outstanding with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic in top form - string articulation is quite remarkable...

Vasily Petrenko leads a first movement that beats just about everyone in terms of sheer excitement ... Through it all the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic plays splendidly, and is excellently recorded. This Shostakovich series is shaping up as one of the best, make no mistake.

BBC Music Magazine
Superlative standards already set by this team's Shostakovich cycle couldn't afford to slip in a symphony as great as the Sixth. In the first movement, at least, Vasily Petrenko and the Liverpudlians reach new heights of articulation and sonic beauty. Bronzed unisons branch out into deeply expressive counterpoint, the premature climax hits hard and the trills, which Shostakovich boldly extends from the world of the Fifth Symphony, are carefully characterised; the flutes hover wanly over them like the vital breath of air in a sealed tomb, after which the horn's note of false hope makes a devastating fade.

The Guardian
Previous releases in Vasily Petrenko's Shostakovich cycle for Naxos have been heaped with praise, and this superb pairing of two of the less performed symphonies comfortably maintains the same high standard. ... the Sixth was transformed into an entirely abstract work in three movements... That fierce, anguished first movement is one of Shostakovich's greatest achievements; in this superbly paced performance, it seems to echo the wracked Adagio that begins Mahler's Tenth Symphony. Petrenko and the RLPO are equally impressive in the movements that follow, with wonderfully agile woodwind playing in the Scherzo, and a perfect balance between vulgarity and exuberance in the final Presto.

MusicWeb International
Happily, as Naxos discs are relatively inexpensive one can still invest for the sake of the performance of the Sixth Symphony, which is what I recommend that readers do. I shall certainly return to Petrenko's fine version of that symphony but I doubt I shall often listen again to the egregious Twelfth.

MusicWeb International
The latest volume, No.6 in the series, maintains the high standards of its predecessors in terms of direction, performance and recording. Whether you go for this version of No.6 or a rival with a different coupling, such as Jurowski, with No.1... will depend on your attitude to No.12. No doubt it's the weakest link in the series; though I still have a soft spot for it, JQ's epithet 'egregious' is just right, yet it reminds me how far the English meaning has come from the Latin original - in the degree ceremony at Oxford, the proctors are addressed as egregii proctores. I doubt that they would be happy for the word to be understood in its modern sense. Petrenko is on record as regarding the Twelfth as a favourite work, though misunderstood in the West; he certainly makes a very strong case for it here.

The Times (London)
Two of Shostakovich's less often played symphonies receive taut performances from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic under its young Russian principal conductor Vasily Petrenko. He's not inclined to dwell on the ambiguous political complexities, but his purely musical approach is persuasive. He concentrates on energy and precision, paces each movement astutely, and elicits lean, thrilling timbres from his players. No 12, "The Year 1917", still seems like a dutiful and bombastic nod to Leninist orthodoxy. But No 6, with its profoundly sad opening and hair-raising finale, sounds like a neglected masterpiece.

Vasily Petrenko is an outstanding Shostakovich conductor, and his continued march through the symphonies remains a joy to hear - even when he conducts, as he must in doing a cycle, works in which Shostakovich was not at his best. One such is Symphony No. 12, "The Year 1917," of which even the composer did not think all that much. A celebration of events of the Bolshevik Revolution, in four movements played continuously, it is a work of somewhat surprising classical balance (which Petrenko brings out nicely), but one that ultimately seems not to have much to say... The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra is becoming more comfortable with Shostakovich's style as this cycle progresses, and if it lacks the sumptuous string tone of the best Russian orchestras, it makes up for it with precision of attacks and excellent sectional balance. This is particularly clear in Symphony No. 6, a better and more interesting work than No. 12... one that pulsates with intensity in Petrenko's heartfelt reading. Warm, emotional, thoughtful and tense, the movement pulls listeners into one of Shostakovich's most interesting sound worlds... This is... gripping symphony that Petrenko and the Liverpudlians handle with consummate skill.

National Public Radio
For this sixth volume of their complete Shostakovich symphony cycle, conductor Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra have a task and a half at hand: transforming two works - among Shostakovich's weakest conceptually and architecturally - into forceful, persuasive and galvanizing performances.

Shostakovich's music in both symphonies is powerful and profoundly moving, and the depth of the composer's personality comes through, with or without narrative elements. Under Petrenko's leadership, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra is convincing in the performances, which convey the pathos and excitement that mark the Sixth, and the intense Russian fervor and heroism of the Twelfth. Naxos offers clear sound with a wide audio range, though the extremes can be heard comfortably with minimal adjustment of the volume.

Positive Feedback Online
The sound is impressive, bringing out out both detail and weight. Fare forward, Vasily.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, England.


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Works Details

>Shostakovich, Dmitri : Symphony no 6 in B minor, Op. 54
  • Conductor: Vasily Petrenko
  • Ensemble: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Notes: Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, England (06/23/2010-06/24/2010)
  • Running Time: 32 min. 13 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1939

>Shostakovich, Dmitri : Symphony no 12 in D minor, Op. 112 "To the Memory of Lenin - 1917"
  • Conductor: Vasily Petrenko
  • Ensemble: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Notes: Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, England (06/23/2010-06/24/2010)
  • Running Time: 35 min. 59 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1961