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This review is from: Shostakovich: Symphony No. 2 to October, Symphony No. 15 (Audio CD)
The seventh in what has already been hailed as a highly accomplished cycle of Shostakovich symphonies featuring Petrenko and his Liverpool players. It brings together the modernistic, highly experimental Second Symphony, typical of the 1920s, with the composer's highly personal and cryptic final symphonic statement. Once again, a well engineered disc, from the barely audible start of the 2nd Symphony to that unnerving percussion chuntering that brings the 15th Symphony to its enigmatic conclusion.
Often dismissed as an exercise in Soviet propaganda, the Second Symphony nevertheless has music of a quality somewhat lacking in its equally propagandist successor, with a clear structure that leads from the prefatory underground writhing of the opening to the final triumph of the proletarian ode `To October' that brings the symphony to an end.
The Fifteenth Symphony was recorded after a memorable and highly acclaimed performance in September 2010, and captured here in this recording: from the quirky, comic earnestness of the first movement, the pratfalls of the scherzo, to the weightier statements of the even-numbered movements. In contrast to many of his other Shostakovich readings, Petrenko adopts a slower tempo here, amply justified as it gives the music more time to register. The massive climax in the finale (10:08) has thus been well-prepared for, making its impact even more shattering. The second movement is notable for a deeply expressive cello solo, and the bleak beauty of its funerary music, characterised by the solo trombone, ending in a passage of a hushed and chilling intensity.
An outstanding disc in so many ways.