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Symphonies - Released October 2, 2015 | Naxos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
This box set is a compilation of the individual recordings in the Shostakovich cycle released by conductor Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra between 2009 and 2013. The recordings have been widely praised, and the price here is certainly right. A sampling of the set will confirm the positive opinions: Petrenko has several major strengths, and he is likely to emerge as the primary pick in this repertory among recordings by younger performers with no direct roots in Shostakovich's own orbit. Petrenko seems to delve deeply into the psychological layers of Shostakovich's music, emphasizing the duress that can be heard in the Symphony No. 5, Op. 47, if the conductor pushes and pulls the tempi. The early symphonies have lots of bite, and the big, Mahlerian ones are rich in detail. Petrenko works well with very fine soloists in the vocal symphonies, and Naxos backs him with clear sound in Liverpool's Philharmonic Hall. Sure, there are a few blemishes -- notably the shapeless performance of the unexpectedly humorous Symphony No. 15, Op. 141 -- but nothing ought to be perfect, and this is a set that will give many hours of listening for years to come. © TiVo

Classical - Released January 17, 2020 | CSO Resound

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason

Classical - Released October 25, 2019 | Supraphon a.s.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 étoiles de Classica

Classical - Released April 7, 2015 | PentaTone

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik

Classical - Released November 6, 2015 | Evidence

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Symphonies - Released May 27, 2016 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice

Classical - Released October 18, 2019 | BR-Klassik

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Symphonies - Released July 6, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica - Grammy Awards
Clocking in at over an hour for the Fourth, and almost an hour for the Eleventh or "1905", these are the two longest and fullest of Shostakovich's symphonies. What's remarkable is that the Fourth, finished in 1936, was only performed in 1961 – eleven years after the performance of the Eleventh in 1957! It was in 1936 that the poor composer felt a bullet whistle by him, following an infamous article in Pravda, dictated by Stalin: "Chaos in Place of Music", which torpedoed the opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk: the work was carefully locked away, only to be brought back out once the dictator was dead, buried and comprehensively decomposed. You can see where the composer was coming from! The tone of this Fourth hasn't the slightest hint of optimism, We hear dark Mahlerian accents, desperate flights and tortured harmonies: not exactly the music of a bright tomorrow. The Eleventh, structured according to a "political" programme, celebrating the revolutionaries of 1905 and the tragic events of Bloody Sunday – when the Russian army fired on a crowd, killing 96 according to official sources and several thousand according to others – with a much more optimistic tone, although we know what optimism means in the world of Shostakovich. The two symphonies were recorded at public concerts, in autumn 2017 and spring 2018 respectively by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and their conductor Andris Nelsons. © SM/Qobuz

Symphonic Music - Released May 8, 2012 | Naxos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording - Hi-Res Audio - La Clef du mois RESMUSICA
There's a lot to like in this recording of Shostakovich's Second and Fifteenth symphonies with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra led by their young conductor, Vasily Petrenko. First is the pairing of these two works, one a brash early piece in which the composer tried to reconcile the demands of Communist propaganda (the work's subtitle refers to the tenth anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution), and the other his deeply gloomy swan song in the symphonic form. Despite the gulf that separates them, with the central events of 20th-century history flowing through it, the two works are recognizably products of the same pen. The brisk performance of the Symphony No. 2, Op. 14 ("To October"), is quite strong, with the long ascent from the depths of the work's almost inaudible opening very well controlled and the choral finale and its ridiculous text never overdone. The big question mark here is the Symphony No. 15 in A minor, Op. 141, which is drained of both its gloom and its gallows humor looking back at various kinds of Romantic music (the quotation from the William Tell Overture is curiously flat in affect). Instead, Petrenko seems to want to make it into a modernist work in the vein of its companion on the album; tempos are brisk, dynamics compressed, and contrapuntal artifice sharply chiseled. To those who grew up on the gloriously lugubrious recording of this symphony by Maxim Shostakovich (who ought to know what it's all about), Petrenko's reading may be maddening. Yet great works change over time, and perhaps that's what's happening with this one. This album is part of a complete cycle of Shostakovich's symphonies, and even if you don't buy what's being done with the Fifteenth here, you may well be intrigued enough to check out other releases in the series. © TiVo

Classical - Released July 17, 2020 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)


Classical - Released April 1, 2014 | Naxos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - La Clef du mois RESMUSICA
Darkness hangs over many of the later works of Dmitry Shostakovich, but never is it as unrelenting as in the Symphony No. 14, Op. 135, of 1969. This work is less a symphony than an orchestral song cycle, containing settings of death-haunted poems by four writers including the incomparable Federico García Lorca, all translated into Russian. Musically it reveals perhaps more than any other work Shostakovich's debt to Mahler, and it might be considered a counterpart to the Kindertotenlieder, tonally updated and made into the product of a totalitarian society. The work requires considerable orchestral forces but has been recorded several times. The music is not easy going, but this recording by Russian conductor Vasily Petrenko has notched strong sales in its first days of release, and it's easy to see why. Petrenko underplays the grandeur of the work and emphasizes the Mahlerian small groups of instruments, especially the unusual percussion section that omits the conventional large drums. The whole thing has the flavor of a death rattle moving among rooms of a large mansion, and it's in many places uncanny. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, as they often have in Petrenko's Shostakovich cycle, plays at the top of its powers, and really the only thing missing is the power of the work's original vocal powerhouse, Galina Vishnevskaya. The voice of Israeli soprano Gal James fits the dimensions of the performance, and there is little to object to in her singing, but real chills are rare. Nevertheless, this reading is thoroughly original and absorbing. © TiVo

Classical - Released October 4, 2019 | BR-Klassik

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Symphonies - Released July 31, 2015 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Symphonic Music - Released February 22, 2019 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Le Choix de France Musique
You don't have to speculate as to whether Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons' interpretations of Shostakovich have been shaped by his having grown up in the Soviet Union; he has said himself that they are. And you can get a start on understanding how with this excellent release, part of a complete Shostakovich cycle by Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. If you're not going for the whole cycle immediately, you might well pick this album to start. It contains one offbeat symphony and one of the big epoch-makers, together with some lesser-known orchestral works, and each piece comes alive. The title "Under Stalin's Shadow" applies to Nelsons' entire series, and it's more applicable to some works than to others. It might work for the Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 54, a light, quirky, rather sardonic work from 1939. It was written after Shostakovich had been condemned by Joseph Stalin in 1936 and had rehabilitated himself with the Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47. The Symphony No. 6, the composer said, was intended to convey moods of "spring, joy, youth," but it is anything but neoclassic with its odd shape and its mood of jibe, beautifully brought out by Nelsons and the BSO. In the Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 60 ("Leningrad"), Shostakovich was not under Stalin's shadow but, for once, on his side: the symphony is the 20th century's great response to war, with its ominous first-movement march of advancing Germans. Sample this to hear how the great sweep of Shostakovich's more epic works ought to be done. The slow movement of this work is profound, and existential in this performance. There are plenty of chances for the BSO to show off their high level of playing under Nelsons in the Festive Overture, Op. 96, a fine barn burner of a work. If you hadn't seen the title or heard the work before, you'd be hard pressed to identify the subject matter of the often jaunty King Lear suite, Op. 58a, but it somehow adds balance to the program. The recordings, from Boston's Symphony Hall, are designated as live, but no live audience is present; the use of the hall's distinctive acoustic is beautifully in sync with the program. A major Shostakovich release. © TiVo

Classical - Released March 15, 2019 | Warner Classics

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Classical - Released February 6, 2012 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording - Hi-Res Audio
The programming of this recording by Alexander Melnikov seems to be no accident. The two large, witty, outward-looking piano concertos surround the more grave, inward-facing Violin Sonata the way a sonata's or concerto's two fast movements surround a slow movement. It's also a real reflection of Melnikov as a performer, schooled in the Russian tradition and mentored by Richter (the pianist of the first public performance of the Violin Sonata), who is as comfortable as a soloist as he is as a collaborative pianist playing chamber music. In that regard, Melnikov and Faust make their parts of the sonata equal partners in the music, bringing out the smallest details. It is generally held that the sonata is about death, and these two handle it with intensity and seriousness, but do not make it grim or frightful. In the concertos, Melnikov and conductor Teodor Currentzis are also well matched. In the slow movements, especially of the Concerto No. 2, Melnikov's touch is so soft and phrasing so lyrical as to give the music a sweetness normally associated with a Rachmaninov or Ravel concerto, and Currentzis follows his lead. The animation in the fast movements, where Shostakovich likes to use rapidly repeated notes, is not pointedly sharp, but is impressive and extremely engaging nonetheless. The finale of Concerto No. 1, when everyone -- including the very precise trumpeter Jeroen Berwaerts -- gets going together is almost precipitously exciting. Yet it is Melnikov's sensitivity of touch that distinguishes his performance of these works from others'. © TiVo

Classical - Released October 1, 2013 | Naxos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Record of the Month - Hi-Res Audio

Classical - Released March 6, 2020 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Following directly upon Shostakovich's triumphal and triumphant Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 60 ("Leningrad"), the Symphony No. 8 in C minor, Op. 65, was a much more troublesome work. Even Prokofiev criticized it, while the Soviet government attempted to make the best of it by promoting it as a "Stalingrad symphony" in memoriam of the dead in that city. Certainly it is a gloomy work that poses immense challenges to the performers, and probably, for this reason, it is one of the less-often performed of the Shostakovich canon of 15. Conductor Tugan Sokhiev, leading the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, surmounts these challenges, even if he doesn't have the smooth strings and sharp-edged brass of, say, Bernard Haitink's Concertgebouw Orchestra. He may remind one of the work's originator, Evgeny Mravinsky, who also recorded the symphony and coaxed a half-hour ovation out of the audience. The Adagio of the 28-minute opening movement (slower than average here) is so long and takes up so much of the movement that it may be taken as an expression of how normal procedures no longer applied. Sokhiev brings out the long line and never flags even as the mood continually darkens. The emotionally complex finale is another strong point. The music never quite makes it to triumphant but manages a kind of lyricism, and contains one of Shostakovich's most beautiful melodies. This reading captures the tentative quality of the music, and even if there are greater displays of pure instrumental virtuosity among other recordings of the symphony, there are few that seem to embody so much reflection on what the music is about. © TiVo

Classical - Released March 27, 2020 | Chandos

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1905 was a year of revolutionary upheaval in pre-Soviet Russia. Shostakovich based this work on the events of one episode of that year, when thousands of workers and their families converged on the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to petition the Tsar over their working and living conditions. The Tsar had been advised to leave, no-one was there to accept the petition, and the authorities resorted to cavalry charges to disperse the crowd. With 200 dead and 500 wounded, this incident damaged the Tsar’s reputation and flamed the fire of revolution in the masses. Whether the work was intended as a politically correct commemoration to please his Soviet paymasters, or actually as a commentary on the 1956 Hungarian uprising, remains under debate. There is no doubt, however, that this majestic score, almost filmic in its conception, remains a milestone in Shostakovich’s output. The BBC Philharmonic under John Storgårds captures here the tremendous intensity of the work. For perhaps the first time for sixty years, this recording uses four church bells, on loan from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, rather than the standard orchestral tubular bells. Church bells may be heard on the earliest recording of the Eleventh Symphony, by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra under Yevgeny Mravinsky in 1959, and may therefore be presumed to have the composer’s approval. John Storgårds has chosen to let them ring on after the end of the work, an option also favoured in performance by Mstislav Rostropovich. © Chandos

Classical - Released November 8, 2019 | Naxos

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Shostakovich was still a young composer when he was hired to provide incidental music for The Bedbug, a surreal and farcical satire on Communist utopian dreams and bourgeois corruption and vulgarity. He produced a terrifically knockabout score that draws on local fireman’s bands and American dance music. Illustrated by Shostakovich’s powerful middle-period music, Love and Hate is a film about female fortitude set in a mining village during the 1919 Civil War. The innovative score, newly reconstructed by Mark Fitz-Gerald from rough piano sketches and the 1935 soundtrack, combines symphonic sections with popular songs. © Naxos


Dimitri Chostakovitch in the magazine