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The new Tchaikovsky Manfred Symphony CD with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic conducted by Vasily Petrenko


Tchaikovsky’s programmatic Manfred Symphony, inspired by Byron’s dramatic poem, contains some of his most thrillingly orchestrated music. Manfred is an archetypal Romantic outsider, outcast from society. The first movement depicts Manfred at midnight in a Gothic gallery in his Alpine castle, haunted by memories of lost love. The second evokes the spirit of the Witch of the Alps, who appears in a rainbow through the spray of a waterfall, while in the third a chamois hunter offers Manfred what little comfort he can. In the final movement, set in a subterranean hall of Evil, in the form of a globe of fire, Manfred welcomes his coming death as the end of his suffering.

Tchaikovsky’s literary source for his symphonic ballad The Voyevoda was the Russian poet Aleksandr Pushkin, himself inspired by the Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz. The story of the ballad concerns a Voyevoda (provincial governor) who surprises his wife in infidelity and bids his servant shoot her. In error the servant shoots his master instead.


Meet Vasily Petrenko, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s Principal Conductor

His concert performances have audiences and critics alike enraptured: Vasily Petrenko “had the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic in his hand, the audience loved him.  Prolonged applause, standing ovations, all that. Not the usual Liverpool reaction.” (Liverpool Daily Post); He “has achieved wonders transforming the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic” (The Guardian); “galvanising…Here was music-making raw and fresh.” (The Times); “Do not forget his name—he seems to be destined to become an outstanding conductor” (Tomorrow, St Petersburg).

His peers acclaim him: “Vasily Petrenko is extraordinarily gifted both musically and technically, with already a remarkably comprehensive repertoire, and prospects of considerable success to come” (Sir Neville Marinner); “Vasily Petrenko has a natural authority, a brilliant technique and is extremely versatile in a wise repertoire encompassing classical, romantic, contemporary, choral and operatic. Without doubt, an exciting future lies ahead for this young man.” (Jan Raes, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra)

He won 1st Prize in the 6th Cadaques International Conducting Competition in Spain, and was chosen as Young Musician of the Year in the 2007 Gramophone Awards.

This month sees the release of his exciting new recording of Tchaikovsky’s dramatic Manfred Symphony and the tone poem The Voyevoda (8.570568).

Vasily Petrenko is the youngest person and the first Russian in the 165-year history of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic to have been appointed Principal Conductor. Born in St Petersburg in 1976, he is recognised as one of the exceptional musicians of his generation. Petrenko was still in his teens when he became resident conductor at St Petersburg Opera and Ballet Theatre, and has gone on to work with some of the world’s finest orchestras, earning international acclaim—and top prizes—for his inspirational performances.

His Liverpool debut with the Phil in November 2004, and subsequent appearances in October and December 2005, created huge excitement. “...memorable for the sheer electricity emanating from the podium. Instantly there was a sense of dialogue between conductor and musicians, between one orchestral family and another, between one phrase and the next, to release natural-seeming eloquence from his players.”  (The Daily Telegraph)

“I’ve got a very broad repertoire,” says Petrenko. “I define classical music as more than 50 years old so you could say that The Beatles is nearly classical music!”

On the Phil’s plans, he adds: “The Liverpool Phil is a fantastic orchestra. There is a great opportunity in the next two years to celebrate our musical heritage, to commission new music and to invite the world’s great artists and ensembles to work with us…It’s a very exciting time for the orchestra—the spotlight is on us. Music is an international language, and, for me, a force of positive energy which really can bring joy and excitement to people.”

(SOURCE: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic website)


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