"...Very strongly recommended."
Jerry Dubins - Fanfare - November/December 2013
***** - (Exceptional)
Alessandro Turba - Musica magazine - October 2013
"... It’s a good recording overall, but shy of greatness; the sonics are excellent (as they have been through all of Petrenko’s cycle) and the orchestra is responsive."
Stephen Estep - American Record Guide - September/October 2013
"...The recording quality is superb, with a wide dynamic range that does full justice to everything from a lone distant flute to a full battalion of percussion instruments. The strings in particular are very well captured, projecting an aggressive bite when called for. Highly recommended!"
Jean-Yves Duperron - ClassicalMusicSentinel.com - July 2013
Artistic Quality 10 Sound Quality 10
"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... Petrenko and his strings take such care to characterize even simple accompaniments helps us to understand just why this performance is so compelling. 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 - June 2013
Album of the Week
"Petrenko and the RLPO’s recording of Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony stands apart as a treasurable, terrific affirmation of a towering masterpiece ... The Royal Liverpool Phil’s cycle of Shostakovich symphonies stands apart from all previous recordings for its edginess and its youth. [Vasily Petrenko] performs the ‘Leningrad’ Symphony not as a relic of an historic event but as a work of music that demands objective interpretation in a different century. The ear is struck immediately by his refusal to overplay textural excesses. The atmosphere is quieter, less ominous than we’re used to. Flutes and clarinets are reduced to a whisper and strings to a hushed susurrus. When the climaxes explode, they do so with total shock and desperation. Between extremes, the conductor maintains an even emotional keel, avoiding the risk of melodrama that Bartók so wickedly caricatured in his Concerto for Orchestra. Petrenko puts his mind to saving the symphony from itself." ****
Norman Lebrecht - Sinfini Music - May 2013
Performance ***** Recording ****
"Unless something goes seriously wrong in the last three issues still to come, Vasily Petrenko’s Liverpool Shostakovich Symphonies cycle will stand as a major recorded achievement for the 21st century... Petrenko’s is the third interpretation to convince me that Shostakovich wasn’t just going through the motions in this Symphony. Fresh, beautifully phrased and vividly recorded…Petrenko’s Symphony No 7 clamours to be heard."
David Nice - BBC Music Magazine - June 2013
"...what’s most immediately striking about this recording…is the unparalled way Petrenko handles the softer passages. It’s not, however, simply a matter of volume: the quieter passages are notable, as well, both for their subtle shading and for their exquisite colour (try the haunting tone of the flutes, harp, and bass clarinet starting at rehearsal 97, 8’49” in the second movement or the gossamer sounds of the muted violins after rehearsal 189, 9’56” in the finale). Rarely have you heard the end of the second movement die away so magically. Throughout the performance, Petrenko plays up the contestatory nature of the counterpoint, encouraging competing lines to jostle for our attention. Yet for all this heightened contrast, the performance never seems out of proportion, much less flashy ... the pacing is always convincing ... Rhythms are consistently resilient and well articulated, balances are sure…the orchestral timbres have tremendous character throughout ...Petrenko, though, will keep you riveted from first note to last ...The orchestra plays brilliantly throughout, with superlative work from the soloists (special praise due to the first oboe). The sound is the best I’ve heard, even in this series; I hope a Blu-ray edition is in the works.
A high point in an already exceptional cycle."
Peter J Rabinowitz - International Record Review - May 2013
"Vasily Petrenko’s revisionist Shostakovich cycle hits new heights with this reading of the wartime Leningrad Symphony. This is a big-boned, satisfying blast of a performance. It’s daringly expansive in scale and astonishingly loud in places—Naxos’s sound is thrillingly widescreen in the brassier moments. This isn’t a symphony that anyone can be expected to enjoy in a conventional sense, but Petrenko will keep most listeners fully engaged for 79 minutes. He doesn’t overlay any irony, any subtext, playing the music commendably straight. The first movement’s chunky opening theme is beautifully, smoothly shaped, and the all-important solos on violin and piccolo six minutes in are gorgeous—making the side drum’s entry that much more unsettling. Shostakovich’s cacophonous climax is ear-splitting, made more so by Petrenko’s trenchant, careful pacing. Thrilling, in other words."
Graham Rickson - The Arts Desk - May 2013
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