RLPO give Shostakovich symphony everything

The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra go full throttle with an exciting, witty performance of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10

Composer: Shostakovich
Repertoire: Symphony No. 10
Artists: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko
Rating:  4/5
Genre: Orchestral
Label: Naxos 8.572461

The Music Shostakovich was in bad odour with the Soviet authorities after the Second World War, as he had been in the 1930s, for writing ‘personal’ rather than ‘official’ music. The Tenth Symphony didn’t appear until after the death of Stalin in 1953: just as well, as some have seen the vicious second movement as a portrait of the dictator. 

The Performance Vasily Petrenko shapes the long first movement – nearly 23 minutes – very well, paying close attention to phrasing and emphases: just listen to the low clarinets at 10’11” as an example of his attention to detail. The orchestra plays for all its worth at the climaxes, but the veiled opening on the strings lacks mystery. The ‘Stalin’ Allegro is as brutal as you will find anywhere, and there’s plenty of excitement and wit in the Finale. In the third movement, built round a musical representation of Shostakovich’s name, Petrenko unaccountably speeds up at around 7’52”. 

The Verdict This performance will not disappoint, though not everyone will like the in your face recording quality. But for an even more scorching account of Shostakovich’s greatest symphony, try Bernard Haitink and the LPO (LPO–0034). 

Want More? Go back in time and check out Petrenko and the RLPO in an excellent performance of Shostakovich’s Eighth Symphony (Naxos 8.572392).