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Ronald E. Grames
Fanfare, November 2012

…Vasily Petrenko and his excellent orchestra unerringly find the tempo and phrasing to illuminate this great if enigmatic work. More surprisingly, they and the Liverpudlian chorus produce a Second Symphony that nearly transcends its original propagandistic objectives. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review



Robert Cummings
Classical Net, August 2012

In his ongoing cycle of the Shostakovich symphonies Petrenko makes about the best case possible for this work. Petrenko…wrenches mystery and darkness from the opening section and then goes on to impart tension and spirit to the often muddled music in the ensuing section. The choral music in the final panel is lively and somewhat brusque, more happy in character than triumphant…Petrenko gives the music an edginess and sense of rawness. The performances of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra are very spirited and the sound reproduction quite vivid, thus making this account competitive with the very best.

Alongside the Second Symphony, the Fifteenth comes across as a masterstroke…Still, the valedictory character of the work is powerful, from the hobbled nature of joy in the first movement to the dark and puzzling character of the second, and onto the mocking and sarcasm in the ensuing Allegretto and the dark and fateful music in the finale…Petrenko is effective throughout, not only because he effectively captures the sense of conflicted joy in the first movement…but in part because he refuses to move the tempos ahead in the long-winded but profound second and fourth movements, plumbing the music for all its eerie depth.

…because the sound reproduction is vivid and powerful, this must be counted among the more convincing performances available. Shostakovich mavens will surely want this new Naxos CD, as well as many of those interested in 20th century orchestral music in general. Petrenko is certainly a conductor to watch. © 2012 Classical Net Read complete review



Infodad.com, June 2012

Vasily Petrenko continues his outstanding Shostakovich cycle by presenting the Symphony No. 15 in a very carefully balanced reading that highlights Shostakovich’s elegant…instrumentation, brings forth the various quotations without making them seem to be the primary point of the work, and turns this eccentric final symphony into a work of elegance and poise through his handling of the passacaglia in the final movement—the passacaglia being itself a significant nod to the musical forms of the past. Petrenko does about as fine a job with “To October” as a conductor can, playing up the dissonances and compositional extremes…of the work’s first two movements, then taking the choral finale at an appropriately dignified tempo and making it as straightforward as the Soviet authorities no doubt wanted it to be. This is scarcely one of Shostakovich’s better or more-important symphonies, but Petrenko expertly brings forth what value there is in it. © 2012 Infodad.com Read complete review



David Weininger
Boston.com, June 2012

Petrenko…and the Liverpool orchestra give accounts of both works that teem with energy and fresh insights. Petrenko is especially good at reconciling the two sides of the Second Symphony, making as convincing a case as can be made for it. In the Fifteenth he takes the childhood innocence out of the first movement and instead makes it sound brooding and sinister—it’s a dark but deeply compelling vision of the piece. The orchestra’s lower brass are especially impressive. This cycle is shaping up to be one of the best in recent memory. © 2012 Boston.com Read complete review



Peter J. Rabinowitz
International Record Review, June 2012

another splendid release in an exceptional cycle. © 2012 International Record Review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2012

We come to the seventh volume of Vasily Petrenko’s complete Shostakovich symphonies, each new edition having become an eagerly awaited event. The present coupling takes us to the two extremes of the composer’s career, the Second from his twenty-first year and flushed with the excitement Communism was expected to bring to the Russian nation. It had all gone sour by the time we reach his Fifteenth, where musically we seem to be looking back over his life. Quotations from other works, including Rossini’s William Tell overture and Wagner’s Gotterdammerung leave us to question their meaning, though Siegfreid’s Funeral Music would be prophetic, for Siegfried was promised a wondrous future only to be deceived by those offering a hand of friendship. So it was with Shostakovich, and he felt bitter. In performance the rhetoric of the young composer has to be handled with care or the symphony can sound nothing more than bluster. Petrenko’s is as good as any presently available on disc…The orchestra deal well with the virtuosity needed in the mercurial second movement, Petrenko exploring the music’s full dynamic range, while the Liverpool choir sing the praises of Lenin with a passion that would have pleased the Communist regime. The many solos are superbly played, the orchestra presently bristling with outgoing brilliance. Extremely wide dynamic range sound. © 2012 David’s Review Corner




David Nice
BBC Music Magazine, June 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. © 2012 BBC Music Magazine




David Hurwitz
ClassicsToday.com, May 2012

Vasily Petrenko makes the piece [Second Symphony] remarkably palatable, taking some liberties with dynamics…and the choral finale is really pretty enjoyable. He actually succeeds in making the dawn of the Socialist Realist paradise kind of plausible…you might even want to repeat the experience now and again.

…Petrenko’s bold attack on the opening movement [Fifteenth Symphony] and very swift account of the scherzo produces a reading of high contrasts, strong in biting wit. © 2012 ClassicsToday.com Read complete review



John Quinn
MusicWeb International, May 2012

The Fifteenth is a difficult symphony, not because its language is difficult in the way that the language of the Second is gratuitously difficult. It’s difficult because it’s so hard to grasp what are the composer’s intentions. I bought Maxim Shostakovich’s 1972 première recording when it came out—I still have the LP—and yet, even after all these years I’m not confident that I fully comprehend this elusive piece. I am sure, however, that it’s a fine and expressive composition and it’s the work of a mature and highly experienced symphonist whereas the Second is the work of a young, iconoclastic innovator. I don’t believe that earlier piece is genuinely symphonic in the sense of including any conventional development of ideas.

I doubt I shall listen often to the Second, though I’m sure that Vasily Petrenko and his choir and orchestra serve it well. I’m certain, however, that I shall return to this performance of the Fifteenth which strikes me as being excellent both in terms of the interpretation and the execution. The Naxos sound is very good: it reports the massive climaxes very well but conveys equally successfully the many quiet passages, both at the start of the Second and during the Fifteenth. As usual, Richard Whitehouse’s notes are very good at outlining the background to the works and at describing each score.

This is another fine instalment in this important Shostakovich symphony cycle and I hope we won’t have to wait too long for the next release. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Bob Neill
Positive Feedback Online, May 2012

Petrenko is back with early…and last…Shostakovich symphonies and is in his customary form. Great music making and great sound. This is one of the very best contemporary recording series I know of.

As always with Petrenko’s Shostakovich, detail and dynamic contrast give this music its best chance to prove its detractors wrong. Petrenko understands that flamboyance is not bombast. He brings out these works’ extravagance, their fun, and their eloquent Russian melancholy as well.

Special praises are due to both musicians and recording engineers Clements and Long for the power and clarity of the brass on which Shostakovich so frequently relies for the power and impact of his music’s edges. The low brass are especially wonderful. © 2012 Positive Feedback Online Read complete review






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