This is the first release in a projected complete Shostakovich Symphony cycle planned for completion over 5 years.
No.11 may seem an unusual choice to begin a series with, but this work, which depicts the 1905 massacre outside St Petersburg's Winter Palace, enables the RLPO and Vasily Petrenko alike to give listeners a good indication of what can be expected from the cycle as a whole.
Great swathes of the music are of almost glacial stillness and dramatic tension, and Petrenko's ability to maintain this tension for extended periods is awesome. Successive dramatic climaxes, especially in the second movement "The Ninth of January", are built with a clear structure and the conductor takes care never to over dramatise music that could in other hands seem histrionic.
The third movement, "Eternal Memory", is as impassioned as Shostakovich gets, while the final movement builds to a searing finale and at the end we are left, quite literally, with the sound ringing in our ears, as the bells are left disappearing into the silence - a sound that would usually be drowned by audience applause at a live performance.
The Naxos engineers have captured the sound in Liverpool's Philharmonic Hall with a brilliance and clarity that we would expect from a full-price label, and at this price there is no excuse not to own this spectacular recording.
Recent live performances of other symphonies in the cycle, given in Liverpool by the same artists (Most recently No.8, being recorded in early April 2009), make us look forward with anticipation to the future releases in this set.