Saturday, January 30, 2010

Awards 2009: Symphony

Shostakovich: Symphonies nos.5 & 9
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko

You're simply not going to get a Shostakovich 5 without the critics arguing over what it should mean. IRR's Peter J. Rabinowitz prefers "more buoyant triumphalism", but Fanfare's Raymond Tuttle notes "Petrenko joins Rostropovich in interpreting the repeated notes that close the symphony not as peals of triumph but as drawn out stabs of pain. The effect is spectacular but almost literally horrifying; if you view the climax of this Symphony as a totalitarian nightmare, Petrenko gives you that nightmare's soundtrack". The critics also offer an intriguing selection of comments approaching Petrenko's 9th from different angles: "makes the music seem a bit more consequential than usual"; "a more subtle, classical account without the humor being as obvious"; "perhaps a little heavy-handed"; and, says Ronald E. Grames in Fanfare, "There is very little of the giddy charm usually found in performances of this most perverse of post-war celebratory symphonies. Perhaps Petrenko is suggesting there should not be. Certainly, this is a darker view of Shostakovich's great sigh of relief". A powerful album, then; to quote Rabinowitz, "All in all, this is emerging as a Shostakovich cycle of uncommon distinction".

Casella: Symphony no.3; Italia.
WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln/Alun Francis [CPO]
Copland: Dance Symphony; Symphony no.1; Short Symphony. Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Marin Alsop [Naxos]
Mahler: Symphony no.4. Budapest Festival Orchestra/Ivan Fischer [Channel]
Suk: Asrael. Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Ashkenazy [Ondine]

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