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Naxos Recording of Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony and The Voyevoda Nominated for a 2009 Gramophone Award

September 10, 2009

Often referred to as the ‘Oscars of classical music’, Gramophone magazine’s annual awards are a major event. In 2009, Naxos’s recording of Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony and The Voyevoda has been nominated for a 2009 Gramophone Award in the Orchestral category:

TCHAIKOVSKY Manfred Symphony, The Voyevoda
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Vasily Petrenko, conductor


Written between the fourth and fifth symphonies, Tchaikovsky’s programmatic Manfred Symphony, inspired by Byron’s dramatic poem of the same name, contains some of the composer’s most thrillingly orchestrated music and best tunes. For Tchaikovsky, as for Byron, Manfred represented the figure of the outsider, an outcast from society. The first movement depicts Manfred at midnight in a Gothic gallery in his Alpine castle, seeking self-oblivion and haunted by memories of lost love. The second movement evokes the spirit of the Witch of the Alps, appearing in a rainbow through the spray of a waterfall, while in the third movement 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.

This best-selling Naxos recording has garnered excellent critical ratings and comments:
  • 4 STARS (The Sunday Times)
  • 4 STARS (Sunday Telegraph)
  • 4 STARS (The Guardian)
  • ‘outstanding performance… essential listening’ (The Daily Telegraph)
  • ‘passion-and-colour’ (Financial Times)
  • ‘This is impressive—and, at Naxos’s pricing, not to be missed.’ (Gramophone)
  • ‘The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and their recently appointed Chief Conductor Vasily Petrenko are a formidable team and certainly on fire in this demanding mercurial score’ (4 STARS, Limelight)
  • ‘Petrenko draws a thrilling, darkly-hued Manfred that rivals Kletzki’s classic 1954 mono recording.’ (MusicWeb International)
  • ‘This is the best Voyevoda I have heard’ (American Record Guide)
  • ‘[In the Manfred Symphony] Petrenko triumphs, however, in navigating the fine line between compelling drama and superficial melodramatics with notable success.  Within a comparatively weighty interpretation, he skilfully utilises the RLPO’s plangent orchestral palette—the woodwinds are especially impressive—to emphasise the score’s darker elements of foreboding and maintain its emotional tension. This he does even at points where other conductors have compromised its integrity by seeking to lighten the mood…[in The Voyoveda] what we have here is a coherent and consistent overall conception that that does its very best for the score.  On top of that, the revitalised Liverpool orchestra plays with both flair and sensitivity and the Philharmonic Hall’s generous acoustic has been well served by producer Tim Handley and his team.’ (Music Web international)

The Gramophone Awards will be announced on 2 October this year.

And his new recording of Shostakovich’s Symphony no 11 ‘the Year 1905’ with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra has also excited the critics:

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphonies Vol 1 – Symphony No 11 ‘The Year 1905’
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Vasily Petrenko, conductor


Charismatic young conductor Vasily Petrenko launches his Shostakovich Symphonies series with the Eleventh, a highly charged depiction of the ‘Bloody Sunday’ massacre of over two hundred peaceful demonstrators by Czarist soldiers outside the Winter Palace in St Petersburg in 1905. Scored for a sizeable orchestra of triple woodwind, four horns, three each of trumpets and trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, celesta, harps and strings, the Symphony makes extensive use of revolutionary songs as thematic elements, as it progresses, without pause, from the glacial opening movement, Palace Square, to the terrifying massacre and its aftermath, The Ninth of January, the funereal third movement, Eternal Memory, and the final movement, The Tocsin, which culminates with cataclysmic bell strokes.
  • ‘RECORDING OF THE MONTH This is an essential disk for all collections.’ (MusicWeb International)
  • ‘I recommend it accordingly, and look forward to the continuation of the cycle.’ (9/9, Classics Today)
  • ‘The good news is this recording of Shostakovich’s Eleventh Symphony is in the same class as the best ever made. The even better news is it’s the start of a projected series of recordings of all the Soviet master’s symphonies… Recorded in extraordinarily vivid digital sound, this disc deserves to be heard by anyone who admires Shostakovich’s music.’ (
  • ‘Petrenko does far more than get it right. From manifest compassion to total brutality, he conducts from the inside, exposing the composer’s sources of inspiration, his Muse. The state-of-the-art recording is the best yet, making this CD a must-have for audiophiles and the composer’s following.’ (Wholenote)
  • ‘No Shostakovich symphony cycle could dream of achieving such an auspicious beginning, Vasily Petrenko one of the great young conductors of this new century.’ (David’s Review Corner)

The second volume in their Shostakovich Symphonies Cycle (Symphonies Nos 5 & 9) is being released on Naxos 8.572167 in October 2009. This new Shostakovich Symphonies Cycle looks set to become the new benchmark for these powerful and popular works.

Vasily Petrenko Biography & Discography


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