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Shostakovich: Symphonies 5 & 9 CD

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Vasily Petrenko was born in 1976 and started his music education at the St Petersburg Capella Boys Music School – the oldest music school in Russia. He then studied at the St Petersburg Conservatoire and has also participated in masterclasses with such major figures as Ilya Musin, Mariss Jansons, Yuri Temirkanov and Esa-Pekka Salonen. Between 1994 and 1997, Petrenko was Resident ... Read more in Amazon's Vasily Petrenko Store

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Frequently Bought Together

Shostakovich: Symphonies 5 & 9 + Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10 + Shostakovich: Symphony No. 7, 'Leningrad' [Vasily Petrenko | RLPO] [Naxos: 8.573057]
Price For All Three: £17.97

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Product details

  • Orchestra: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Vasily Petrenko
  • Composer: Dmitry Shostakovich
  • Audio CD (28 Sept. 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B002N5KEF6
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 22,678 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47 (1937) - Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
2. Symphony No. 9 in E flat major, Op. 70 (1945) - Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Product Description

Product Description

Symphonies n° 5 & n°9 / Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra - Vasily Petrenko, direction

BBC Review

This is a significant test for Vasily Petrenko and his resurgent Liverpool Phil. Their cycle of Shostakovich symphonies launched impressively in May with the cannily chosen Eleventh. Now they offer the popular, ever-recorded and enigmatic Fifth with the awry and elusive Ninth. It’s the same coupling Valery Gergiev chose when his cycle with the Mariinsky orchestra was issued on CD. No pressure, then.

Popular it may be, but the Fifth symphony is also shrouded in interpretative argument like no other. Petrenko’s tempos – slowly wading and fearfully scurrying – suggest he subscribes to the ‘suppression’ theory: that the symphony’s jubilance is enforced, reflecting the emotional tempering of the terrified people under Stalin. As Petrenko’s third and fourth movements build, therefore, they stagger into their climaxes only to be forced upright by insistent percussion and machined-out sheets of unison strings.

Other recorded Fifths have more drama in these climax points; with Masur and the London Philharmonic the rallentandos are more pronounced and you really do feel the music collapsing into its pivots. Petrenko prefers to tee them up with sparse, anaemic textures that create a feeling of pale exhaustion. When those climax points arrive, it’s not the chutzpah of the key-change that hits you as much as the hopelessness of it all.

The orchestra plays with the increased quality we’ve become used to at Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall in the last couple of years and Petrenko has preserved its lithe corporate sound and light, silvery string tone. The performances of both symphonies are tidy enough, particularly from the soloists. And that’s precisely why the shorter Ninth underwhelms. You can sense the cheeky glances of Haydn and Prokofiev in Shostakovich’s writing, but not in the orchestra’s playing. Minimal vibrato and stark instrumental palettes might bring a sinister edge to the Fifth, but here they suck colour from a piece which should be more fun.

The Ninth you can get better elsewhere. The Fifth you can get different elsewhere; less unsettling, more straightforwardly enjoyable, perhaps. But for delivering a focussed and individual performance of the latter piece that doesn’t tow the same old line, Petrenko and the Phil do their great relationship some justice. --Andrew Mellor

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Steen Mencke on 1 Dec. 2009
Format: Audio CD
At present I have nineteen different versions of the Shostakovich fifth in my classical collection, ranging from vintage versions by Mravinsky, Kondrashin and Ancerl to more modern ones by conductors like Gergiev, Ashkenazy and Temirkanov. Still I consider Petrenko's recording to be among the very finest beasts in my herd due to a well-thought-through aproach and a very consistent and in every detail finely crafted reading.

Many years ago I had the good fortune to be present at an unforgetable rehersal of the symphony our National Radio Orchestra had with the no longer active (but still with us at the tender age of 97!) German conductor Kurt Sanderling, who was in the audience at its first performance back in 1937, and who knew the conditions of Stalin's Russia first hand having fled there from Nazi Germany the year before. His many instructions to the orchestra regarding the numerous instances of the music tapping directly into the oppressive every-day life during the purges of the mid-thirties was a wonderful insight into this awsome piece of music, and with so many of those hints present in Petrenko's version, I all but feel that he must have been there on that occasion as well. Especially the many life-like details in the Party day persiflage of the second movement are done to perfection, and the stumbling, pleading notes of the little violin solo - according to Sanderling the musical likeness of a little girl attempting to recite a short thank-you speech to Stalin while handing over a bouquet of flowers - is moving in the extreme. The Largo movement is rather slow (too slow, I'm sure many would say - but then again the tempo is Largo, so how could it be?!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Allan Blonde on 24 July 2011
Format: Audio CD
I have been around almost as long as Shostakovitch's 5th Symphony. I've heard it played many times live and have all the recordings that received good reviews from almost anyone, but I was not prepared for this performance of the 5th. Pentrenko rightly sees the ambiguity of the work: a statement of enormous power yet one of equally unrelieved self-reflexive tension. No one to my knowledge has achieved this essential character of the piece as remarkably as Petrenko, and because of that, no one has conveyed the emotional impact of the work as well as he. The tempo of the last movement, which is slower than in other performances, is a key factor contributing to the outstanding success of the performance and is no more wayward than the tempi of other great but perhaps atypical performances such as those of Furtwangler's Beethoven symphonies.
Furthermore, the Liverpool Phllharmonic are first rate and sound of the recording is outstandingly fine. An equally fine performance of the 9th Symphony is thrown in, making this at the Naxos price one of the bargains of the record catalog.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Serghiou Const on 29 Mar. 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra produced a truly compelling rendition of Shostakovich 5th Symphony while the humble Naxos label delivered a quality and clarity of sound which has nothing to envy from the supposedly more prestigious labels.

I intuit that the Shostakovich cycle comprising all fifteen Symphonies with Vasily Petrenko, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Naxos label is destined to become a memorable one. The 14th Symphony - which I pre - ordered - is scheduled for release on March 31st and after that only the 13th will be left pending to complete the cycle.

Few doubt that Shostakovich is a great composer. Also few deny that some of his compositions are amenable to more than one interpretations. This genius of a composer was creating his music under the oppressive Stalinist regime and some of his compositions possess a premeditated ambiguity and his Fifth is an excellent case in point.

The Fifth was unveiled on November 21, 1937, in the Great Hall of the Leningrad to huge acclaim and has since withstood the test of time. The composer in a subsequent article stated that the Symphony was his creative response to official criticism of his music and described it as an apology to lady Macbeth and the unperformed Fourth.

The change in style is dramatic. The Fifth follows an ordinary four-movement pattern: Moderato, Allegretto, Largo, Allegro non troppo.

Like Beethoven's Fifth, proceeds from tragic minor to exultant major. Beethoven's heroic Symphonies, the Eroica and the Fifth, tell stories of conflict and resolution, of protagonists overcoming obstacles to win victories. Fifth follows the same plan.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A. W. Macfarlane on 24 Feb. 2010
Format: Audio CD
Petrenko's Shostakovich Five immediately strikes as more measured than most of the competition, the first movement clocking in at 18 minutes. He starts and finishes this movement a little too slowly for my taste, but the climax is arresting even if the gear changes to get there and back are slightly obvious, and at the close the interplay of individual lines as the soloists survey the devastated landscape is wonderfully judged.

In the second movement, Levi's tongue in cheek solo violin in the trio (Atlanta Symphony on Telarc) is the best of my six recordings, the pizzicato strings in the reprise of the Scherzo admirably together, but Petrenko's Liverpool players are spot on, too, and their pay off as cheeky as any.

Petrenko, Levi and Haitink with the Concertgebouw all take about 15 minutes over the beautiful Largo. Petrenko achieves a hushed expectancy and a perfect unfolding, with beautifully judged pianissimos and ravishing oboe and clarinet solos. I think the falling cello lines that follow the central climax sound better legato but both the climax and the build-up to it have the tingle factor and Petrenko has clearly thought what he wants this movement to achieve. The hush with which it ends is bewitching and warmer than Levi, with a hint of colour glinting like sunlight on icicles.

Petrenko kicks off the finale at one hell of a lick and it is testament to the skills of the RLPO that they keep up, but the movement is after all marked "allegro non troppo". The reflective development is a model of restraint but the problem for me comes with the recapitulation. Petrenko makes it very obvious that the home straight will be slower, but the emphatically slower pace results in a complete change in the character of the music.
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