Shostakovich: Symphony No 7 / Petrenko
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Great performances of this massive symphony aren’t exactly thick on the field, but my goodness, this is one of them. Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic play with 100 percent commitment in every single bar. The first movement opens broadly, the intensity already palpable. Taking full advantage of excellent sound and a wide dynamic range (crank up the volume for this one), the central march and battle will have you sweating in your seat. The unrelentingly sustained passion that Petrenko brings to this long section triumphantly vindicates Shostakovich’s controversial vision, and at the same time makes short work of a 28-minute overall timing.
It may sound odd, but what stands out most in the scherzo (for me anyway) is the strikingly sharp pizzicato violins accompanying the shrill clarinet in the movement’s central outburst (sound sample below). Obviously this isn’t the most important idea, but the fact that Petrenko and his strings take such care to characterize even simple accompaniments helps us to understand just why this performance is so compelling. Like the first movement, the Adagio has a strikingly intense central episode, one whose contrasting power helps to sustain interest in the slow, grave outer sections. Then we come to the finale, with a thrilling, wild allegro, and a broad, take-no-prisoners coda that’s simply immense. Petrenko’s Shostakovich cycle already is one of the best out there, but this release really puts the seal on his achievement. This is absolutely essential, and as I said, it’s exceptionally well recorded to boot.
– David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Catalog Number: 8573057
Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor: Vasily Petrenko
Orchestra/Ensemble: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra