12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A great Fifth - certainly for the first three quarters,
This review is from: Shostakovich: Symphonies 5 & 9 (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. The mood should pick up again where it left off before the development, but in comparison to the breathless, hectic beginning it sounds like a different piece, no matter how virtuosic the orchestra is in maintaining it to the bitter end. It all sounds rather over-interpreted.
My favourite recording is still Levi with the Atlanta Symphony, with Ancerl on Supraphon not far behind. If you don't mind the slowness of the final peroration, this Naxos recording is tremendous even against full price competition. But for me the ending swings it, and why I give it four stars rather than five.