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Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10

16 Nov 2010
4.6 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10
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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 16 Nov. 2010
  • Release Date: 1 Nov. 2010
  • Label: Naxos
  • Copyright: (C) 2010 Naxos
  • Total Length: 51:57
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B0048CPDMQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 35,485 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Petrenko is really proving himself as a champion of Shostakovich with fantastic performances of the 5th, 8th, 9th and 11th symphonies already to his name. So this masterful recording of no.10 really puts his name in the same league as such Shostakovich interpretors as Mravinsky, Ashkenazy, Gergiev and Rostropovich.

The handling of the mysterious opening is perfection, there is much sensitive playing from the RLPO soloists with an excellent dynamic range and well thought - out articulation. The thrilling climax at the centre of this movement is absolutely breathtaking, and the melancholic ending of the movement is just sublime with sensitive playing from the two piccolo solos in particular.
The second movement is given a very energetic performance with impressive virtuosic playing from the RLPO. The anger in the movement is captured exceptionally, making the listening experience all the more exciting.
The sense of tragic mystery in the third movement is caught very well with fantastic handling of Shostakovich's genius hints of the DSCH motto theme.
The woodwinds of the RLPO give astonishing solos in the mysterious opening of the fourth movement, reminiscent of the first movement. This leads into the energetic allegro section with exceptional playing from the RLPO. The climax is astounding, extremely exciting. The brief string section which brings the last bit of melancholy of the symphony after the climax is played so beautifully. After that the ending is in sight and Petrenko really pushes the best out of his orchestra, bringing an exciting, enjoyable finale. After hearing those triumphant last few bars, with the DSCH motto in the timpani, I just wanted to listen to the whole symphony over again!
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The fourth issue in the Petrenko/RLPO cycle of Shostakovich symphonies reaches the composer's most accomplished work in this form, the monumental 10th. The controversy over Solomon Volkov's 'Testimony', in which much is said about its political implications, can blind one to its supreme virtue as a work rooted in a classical, abstract form, with simple themes that can be picked out and their development easily followed. For instance, in the first movement, the opening six-note motif, and the wedge-shaped second subject are developed,and then combined in a massive orchestral climax, to die away unresolved in an uneasy calm. The last movement gropes towards an optimistic conclusion, reaching an apotheosis in which the main theme, and the musical acronym of the composer's surname (D-S-C-H: D- E flat- C-B in British musical notation) combine to bring the work to a triumphant conclusion in the major key. It is a perfectly-formed symphony, travelling through the depths of despair to a final victory against the odds, and achieving what the composer's earlier exercises in this form did not quite bring off.

As in earlier issues, Petrenko adopts brisk tempi, and avoids lingering over the more introspective sections, especially in the third movement where he is obedient to the 'Allegretto' marking. His orchestra sustains the sheer momentum of the violent and angry second movement, in which the upper strings, woodwind and side-drummer play with great virtuosity. Nor is this at the expense of subtlety: in the well-judged start of the work, the lower strings emerge from nothing to set the tragic mood that defines most of this symphony.
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Format: Audio CD
The tenth is arguably one of Shostakovich' finest works, continuously battling the fifth for the gold in the popular vote, and over the last fourty-odd years a multitude of first-class performances have found their way to the mediums of LP and later CD. It is a symphony that demonstrates both great depth of emotion and at the same time the expressivety of a marching brass band (in short, Shosta at his best), and, composed in the exuberant months following Stalin's death in March 1953, it occupies a pivotal position in the oevre of the composer (for more about the symphony per se, see also my review of Semyon Bychkov's exemplary recording for AVIE).

Vasily Petrenko, by now a Shostakovich interpreter to be reckoned with, handles every note to perfection, and what a first-class orchestra the RLPO has become over the last decade! Every instrument group, sounding smooth as silk, shines like a midsummer sunrise and even the subtlest phrasing is in perfect sync. This is praise indeed - but therein, oddly enough, lies also my only real reservation when comparing this recording to others of equal standing.

Many years ago a critic for Gramophone magazine, when reviewing a Mahler recording by Leonard Bernstein, could not help complaining that once more the conductor just simply had to squeeze that last drop of neurotic angst out of the music, and this technique was beginning to feel a bit "over-done". He may have had a point, but once you've grown accustomed to heart-on-sleeve interpretations the "straight-up stuff" tends to come across as just a tiny bit bland (or under-salted, to stay in the technical language of the kitchen), and, to me at least, there was a spot or two in Petrenko's reading that was just a tad too straight forward.
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