Shostakovich: Symphony No 4 / Petrenko

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There are a lot of performances of this remarkable symphony available now, but this one stands out as having a truly distinctive and persuasive point of view. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, however well it plays, isn’t an orchestral powerhouse like the Chicago Symphony (Previn) or Kondrashin’s Moscow Philharmonic, but Vasily Petrenko more than compensates for any lack of sheer heft with an extra jolt of energy and a razor-sharp rhythmic attack. Listen to the strings dig into the music right after the first movement’s “climax of fugal insanity”. If the preceding din isn’t exactly paint-peeling, it’s still very exciting, and as you can hear, Petrenko sustains the tension very well, providing an unusual degree of continuity to a movement that easily tends to break up into a sequence of disconnected episodes.

The scherzo also is unusually characterful—slower than the norm, which only makes it more gaunt and spooky. The “tick-tock” percussion at the end is especially clear, and disturbingly mechanical. As for the gripping finale, not only is the wacky ballet suite interlude remarkably fun, but Petrenko really unleashes the hounds in the form of some magnificently braying brass in the final chorale. This is one of those performances that justifies purchasing yet another recording of what is becoming a relatively well-known work. It confirms the piece as a true classic, in the sense that a variety of approaches reveals an endless series of valid interpretive possibilities. The performance is also extremely well recorded, naturally balanced, and vividly present. Wonderful.

– David Hurwitz,

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 8573188

  • UPC: 747313318872

  • Label: Naxos

  • Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich

  • Conductor: Vasily Petrenko

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra