Shostakovich: Symphony No 11 / Petrenko, Royal Liverpool PO

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Billed as the start of a new complete Shostakovich symphony cycle, this initial entry holds a great deal of promise. The Eleventh Symphony has more the character of a film score than a traditional symphonic work: it thrives on atmosphere, color, and the repetition of simple tunes and motives rather than drama created by development and tonal contrast. Conductor Vasily Petrenko certainly understands this, whether in capturing the ghostly string timbres of the opening (reinforced by celesta on its many subsequent returns), in the crushing massacre sequence in the second movement, or in the splashy ending, with cymbals, bells, and tam-tam making cinematic contributions.

Petrenko's also very sensible in his handling of tempo. The first and third movements don't drag; the second and fourth have plenty of excitement with rhythms that never turn mechanical (as they have a tendency to do, what with so much militaristic march music). The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic plays very well, with distinguished contributions from all departments. My only quibble concerns the slightly backward positioning and lack of clarity afforded the timpanist, who carries much of the thematic substance of the first movement and presides over the massacre's percussion fusillades. Otherwise, this is pretty terrific on all counts. I recommend it accordingly, and look forward to the continuation of the cycle. [4/2/2009]

--David Hurwitz,

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 8572082

  • UPC: 747313208272

  • Label: Naxos

  • Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich

  • Conductor: Vasily Petrenko

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra