Shostakovich: Symphony No. 2 to October, Symphony No. 15 CD
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These two hugely contrasting symphonies come from the opposite ends of Shostakovich's life and career. The Second Symphony was written to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Bolshevik October Revolution. Its advanced idiom of experimental textures and abstract effects can perhaps be best described as organised musical chaos. The Fifteenth was Shostakovich's last symphony and is filled with remarkable contrasts, from the rollicking quotes from Rossini's William Tell Overture and eerie references to Wagner's Götterdämmerung and Tristan und Isolde, to the last and perhaps most imaginative of the composer's symphonic passacaglias.
Widely admired as having 'superlative standards' (BBC Music Magazine) and going 'from strength to strength' (Gramophone), Vasily Petrenko's Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Shostakovich symphonic cycle has gained critical acclaim from every quarter, and each new release generates its own not inconsiderable gravitational field. Volume 7 cleverly pairs the 'difficult' but remarkably dramatic Second Symphony with the simultaneously rousing, enigmatic and emotionally draining Fifteenth in performances which once again set new standards.
'If anyone can make sense of these quirky works, it is Petrenko. His performances, the latest in a superb Shostakovich cycle with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, have all the bite, wit and finesse you could hop for.' --Financial Times, April 28/29 2012
'It's hard to say which is the more striking as atmospherically performed here...As so often, Petrenko shows the deepest sensitivity in going straight to the heart of the matter.' --BBC Music Magazine, June 2012
'Vasily Petrenko and the Liverpool orchestra set themselves very high standards from the start of their Shostakovich cycle, and with every subsequent release it's been remarkable how well those standards have been maintained. Here, it's the account of Shostakovich's last symphony that is the more remarkable, for Petrenko manages to define every detail of this strange, raw-edged score with astonishing clarity while integrating every one of them into a truly symphonic whole.' --The Guardian, 1st June 2012
Top Customer Reviews
In other recordings it usually does sound like it is simply tagged on but with this recording it is an integral section in a well-wrought symphony, with the modernist effects shining through. The musical language has the thematic elasticity and drama of his recent opera "The Nose" but without the schoolboy humour (don't knock it; it really is hilarious). The battle for the soul of the revolution was still being fought when this symphony was composed and he chose to side with the modernists at the time even if his setting of revolutionary texts showed little personal engagement. In this performance at least the choral section is treated with much more than polite respect. Despite that, this stands out as a fine and seriously neglected work that here gets its just reward.
The Fifteenth was his final work in that oeuvre and, like many of his later works, sees him come full circle back to the techniques of his early pieces but now filtered through a life of pain and crippling ill health. If the Second is a public work the Fifteenth is personal and cryptic. The opening movement and the scherzo show a composer with the same voice as that in the Second but it looks backwards not forward.Read more ›
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.
Premiered in 1972 under the baton of Maxim Shostakovich, the composer's son, the Fifteenth did not win universal acclaim, as had the humanistic Thirteenth, set to Yevtushenko's scorching poetry denouncing Stalinist anti-semitism, or even the dark, melancholy Fourteenth, set to various poems about death. The enigma of the fifteenth begins with is disparity of material - many self-quotations, a "mad toy shop" opening romping along to Rossini's William Tell Over., a set of almost but not quite quotations from Tristan, a long mournful soliloquy for cello, a madcap, swirling Scherzo (the easiest movement of unriddle), and to end things, a tick-tock on the Chinese block that could be an old man's anxious waiting for death. Critics liked the bits and pieces, but few could make the score cohere in their heads, and neither could conductors. Shostakovich had repaired his rift with Mravinsky somewhat, I suppose, because after sitting out the thirteenth and Fourteenth, Mravinsky and his Leningrad orchestra turned in one of the best versions before Petrenko's.
but really, there's no comparison with any rival, Petrenko is so tuned in to the Fifteenth that he makes it sound easy. His intuitive grasp of phrasing enables him to lead a reading where every note means something musically.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fabulous item as described. Prompt dispatch, safe and sound. Top marks.Published 3 months ago by P. F. Tracgransglaws
The fifteenth symphony, Shostakovich's last and indeed one of the last pieces he was ever to write, contrasts with his other symphonic works in that it is personal, intimate and... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Fahrenden Gesellen
An excellent pairing of symphonies and a great performance. No 15 evokes memories of the Mt St Helen's eruption for me, as there was a TV documentary (BBC Horizon? Read morePublished on 22 July 2014 by John P
The two symphonies are hugely contrasting and come from the opposite ends of Shostakovich's (1906-1975) life and career. Read morePublished on 14 April 2014 by Serghiou Const
Have collected many of this series to augment or replace older recordings. Remarkable how Russian the Liverpuddlians sound! Read morePublished on 29 Dec. 2013 by Lance Edwards
A wonderful recording by a brilliant orchestra that has come on by leaps and bounds under the expert conducting of this talented Russian composer.Published on 30 July 2013 by Orange Blossom
A superb recording of the second and fifteenth symphonies. A must for Shostakovich admirers. Petrenko makes them sound so fresh.Published on 7 July 2013 by Mr. Vincent Waterfall