Vasily Petrenko / Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 8

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This is the third release in Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic's series of recordings of Shostakovich's symphonies. Their first was a fabulous Eleventh, their second was a not quite fabulous but still fine recording of the Fifth and Ninth, but this Eighth may be the best so far. As before, the Liverpool musicians show that they have what it takes to play Shostakovich: the skill, the strength, the stamina, and above all the commitment to get through his long, demanding scores. As before, Petrenko demonstrates that he has the measure of the work on his desk: the insight, the intuition, and command for long lines. But here, even more than in their earlier recordings, Petrenko and the Liverpool players seem to be under the skin of the music, not only admirably performing the notes but completely grasping their meaning, and this lends even more gravity to the work. The epic span of the first movement, the unrelenting power of the two central fast movements, the agonizing pain of the slow movement, and the return to life of the finale are all expertly depicted. Captured in deep, rich digital sound, this Eighth takes its place among the best ever recorded.

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