Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Vasily Petrenko – Dmitry Shostakovich: Symphony No. 7 ‘Leningrad’ (2013/2015) DSF DSD64

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Vasily Petrenko – Dmitry Shostakovich: Symphony No. 7 ‘Leningrad’ (2013/2015)
DSF Stereo DSD64/2.82MHz | Time – 01:19:07 minutes | 3,12 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: ProStudioMasters | Booklet, Front Cover | © 2xHD

Three weeks after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Shostakovich volunteered with the Home Guard in Leningrad. As the siege of the city intensified, he worked on his Seventh Symphony, completing three movements before being forced to leave Leningrad and travel east by train. The work was completed in December that year. Initially he gave each movement a programmatic title, but later withdrew them, leaving this epic work as an emblem of heroic defiance in the face of conflict and crisis: ‘I dedicate my Seventh Symphony to our struggle against fascism, to our coming victory over the enemy, to my native city, Leningrad.’ Shostakovich’s epic Seventh Symphony is a study in defiance and survival, written largely in the ruins of the besieged city in 1941. Its reputation has fluctuated over the years, with its immediate post war reputation largely low. But in recent years it has taken its rightful place in Shostakovich’s symphonic canon. As one of the Twentieth Century’s most recorded symphonists, the composer has been the subject of many recordings.

The award-winning Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra is the UK’s oldest continuing professional symphony orchestra, dating from 1840. The dynamic young Russian, Vasily Petrenko was appointed Principal Conductor of the orchestra in September 2006 and in September 2009 became Chief Conductor.

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,


Dmitry Shostakovich (1906-1975)

Symphony No. 7 ‘Leningrad’, Op. 60 (1941)
1 Allegretto 28:32
2 Moderato (Poco allegretto) 12:58
3 Adagio – 18:44
4 Allegro non troppo 19:01

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Vasily Petrenko, conductor

Recorded: Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, England, from 1st to 3rd June, 2012


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