Two shorter symphonies that conveniently make up a CD, though musically they are very different in quality. The vast first movement of the Sixth, played with a burnished intensity here, is one of the composer's greatest utterances. Notable for his usually quick tempi so far, Petrenko gives the movement even greater weight with his slower pace. Then follows the catharsis of circus music in the Allegro, and the Haydnesque flourishes launching the finale only to drift into uncertainty, until they are whipped forward to a triumphal conclusion.
Unlike its immediate predecessor, the Twelth awaits rehabilitation. It is so obviously a propaganda work in its title, its association with Lenin, 'film music' references to the storming of the Winter Palace, and the concluding 'Dawn of Humanity 'movement. Wisely, Petrenko decides not to linger over the first movement, which can sound too reverential taken at a slower pace, skips through 'Aurora',the weakest of the four movements, at a lightening pace, and sets
a quick Allegro for the finale, tempering the bombast that can make this movement a tiresome experience. Wisely again, he gives a spacious reading of the Adagio, most satisfactory movement of the four, best heard when putting to one side the image of Lenin awaiting his moment at Razliv.
Once again, a very clear and truthful recording that highlights the technical skill of the Phil soloists and the sheer quality of the RLPO strings - if in doubt on the latter, just sample the first minute of the Sixth Symphony on this CD.
Shortly after this latest instalment in the Petrenko/RLPO Shostakovich cycle came out, the team won yet another award, this time for their Tenth. The present issue in no way falls short of this standard and can be highly recommended.