Vasily Petrenko has been among the most musically reliable of the wave of Russian performers who settled in Britain following the fall of the Soviet Union. He isn't a household name, nor, as conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, a fixture of the London classical music scene. Yet he has been a prolific leader who rarely delivers a clinker. Consider this recording of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, in the familiar Ravel orchestration, framed by other Soviet orchestral favorites. There are readings with greater grandeur and sweep, but Petrenko grasps that the Ravel version is, first of all, an orchestral showpiece, and there's something very satisfying about hearing the Liverpudlians nail their parts one by one. The energy doesn't flag even in the less familiar numbers like the "Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks," and the other Soviet pieces that frame the Mussorgsky are well-chosen in this regard. One is less familiar: the Concerto for Orchestra No. 1 ("Naughty Limericks") of Rodion Shchedrin is an early work of that composer that revives the long concerto for orchestra/sinfonia concertante tradition. Everything falls into place in the pieces by Kabalevsky, Khachaturian, and Rachmaninov. The same is true of the engineering, as the Onyx team knows the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall well. The result is a fine recording that shows there's life in the old warhorses yet.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Colas Breugnon, Op.24|
|Excerpts from the ballet 'Spartacus'|
|Pictures at an Exhibition|