"Superlative standards already set by this team’s Shostakovich cycle couldn’t afford to slip in a symphony as great as the Sixth. In the first movement, at least, Vasily Petrenko and the Liverpudlians reach new heights of articulation and sonic beauty. Bronzed unisons branch out into deeply expressive counterpoint, the premature climax hits hard and the trills, which Shostakovich boldly extends from the world of the Fifth Symphony, are carefully characterised; the flutes hover wanly over them like the vital breath of air in a sealed tomb, after which the horn’s note of false hope makes a devastating fade."
David Nice - BBC Music Magazine - December 2011
"Two of Shostakovich’s less often played symphonies receive taut performances from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic under its young Russian principal conductor Vasily Petrenko. He’s not inclined to dwell on the ambiguous political complexities, but his purely musical approach is persuasive. He concentrates on energy and precision, paces each movement astutely, and elicits lean, thrilling timbres from his players. No 12, “The Year 1917”, still seems like a dutiful and bombastic nod to Leninist orthodoxy. But No 6, with its profoundly sad opening and hair-raising finale, sounds like a neglected masterpiece." ****
Richard Morrison - The Times (London) - November 2011
Artistic Quality 10 Sound Quality 10
"Vasily Petrenko leads a first movement that beats just about everyone in terms of sheer excitement ...Through it all the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic plays splendidly, and is excellently recorded. This Shostakovich series is shaping up as one of the best, make no mistake."
David Hurwitz - ClassicsToday.com - December 2011
CD of the Week
"...Petrenko’s thrilling performance plays down the (deliberate?) banality of the Revolutionary Petrograd, Aurora…and Dawn of Humanity movements, but there is expressive depth in the adagio…The RLPO woodwinds excel themselves in these gripping readings."
Hugh Canning - The Sunday Times (London) - October 2011
"Previous releases in Vasily Petrenko’s Shostakovich cycle for Naxos have been heaped with praise, and this superb pairing of two of the less performed symphonies comfortably maintains the same high standard. …the Sixth was transformed into an entirely abstract work in three movements…That fierce, anguished first movement is one of Shostakovich’s greatest achievements; in this superbly paced performance, it seems to echo the wracked Adagio that begins Mahler’s Tenth Symphony. Petrenko and the RLPO are equally impressive in the movements that follow, with wonderfully agile woodwind playing in the Scherzo, and a perfect balance between vulgarity and exuberance in the final Presto." ****
Andrew Clements - The Guardian - October 2011
CD of the Week
"...The valuable Naxos series of Shostakovich symphonies that is gradually being built up by the RLPO and Vasily Petrenko has established and maintained extremely high standards, both in terms of the quality and technical finesse of the orchestral playing and in the way that Petrenko leaves his stamp on the performances through his insight into the characteristics of each work. The same is true of this new coupling of the Sixth and Twelfth Symphonies, both of them testifying to the secure, fertile artistic bond that Petrenko and the RLPO have forged. One particularly impressive feature is the fact that Petrenko seems to have instilled such a “Russian” sound into the players. The string tone in the long, brooding melody at the start of the Sixth Symphony has a haunting blend of strength and malleability, vibrancy and power, the broad bowings emphasising the music’s spaciousness with a timbre that is rich and luminous. As the lengthy first movement progresses, the woodwind and brass contribute to the potent atmosphere that Petrenko conjures up, with the E flat clarinet in the second movement finding the right mix of high spirits and mischievousness. Petrenko sustains muscular energy here and in the finale, but the balance between the two fast movements and the slow opening one sounds ideal.Petrenko’s sense of the music’s structure is sure, both in the Sixth Symphony and in the Twelfth, the one subtitled The Year 1917. Here the Revolution and Lenin’s involvement in it might form an ostensible backdrop, or at least were a catalyst in getting Shostakovich’s creative ideas flowing, but, as Petrenko shows, the symphony works well as pure music, and with considerable expressive force."
Geoffrey Norris - Daily Telegraph (UK) - October 2011
"...this work seems to have been calculated to please the Soviet government and to put the composer in its good graces…[Petrenko]…makes no apologies for this symphony. He does not impose an ex post facto interpretation upon it. He plays it cleanly and with the excitement of an amusement park ride that puts its riders in no danger, even if it makes their pulses race. In short, this is a very objective reading…"
Raymond S Tuttle - Fanfare - March 2012
"Petrenko here does not disappoint. He captures all the power and bleakness of the opening movement with a tempo that is slower than most. The playing of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic is beyond reproach. Many consider the Twelfth to be Shostakovich’s weakest symphony, and I am not one to disagree with this opinion in general. Yet, I must say that Vasily Petrenko in this blistering account almost convinces me otherwise. I have listened to it several times and, though the ending is almost too bombastic to bear, Petrenko brings out all kinds of detail to make the work interesting… I know I will turn to Petrenko just to appreciate what he has done to make the symphony palatable. I won’t be tossing out my Haitink recording of these symphonies, but Petrenko’s accounts must now take pride of place. At budget price, this disc is unmissable."
Leslie Wright - MusicInternational.com - January 2012
"Petrenko seems very sure of his intentions with Shostakovich. These recordings will appeal to many listeners, and the orchestra is on the top of their game. His Sixth is excellent, a sure keeper; the 12th is too—with all its bombast and glory…"
Brian Buerkle - American Record Guide - March 2012
Giuseppe Rossi - Musica magazine - March 2012
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