Vasily Petrenko / Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Shostakovich: The Complete Symphonies

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This box set is a compilation of the individual recordings in the Shostakovich cycle released by conductor Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra between 2009 and 2013. The recordings have been widely praised, and the price here is certainly right. A sampling of the set will confirm the positive opinions: Petrenko has several major strengths, and he is likely to emerge as the primary pick in this repertory among recordings by younger performers with no direct roots in Shostakovich's own orbit. Petrenko seems to delve deeply into the psychological layers of Shostakovich's music, emphasizing the duress that can be heard in the Symphony No. 5, Op. 47, if the conductor pushes and pulls the tempi. The early symphonies have lots of bite, and the big, Mahlerian ones are rich in detail. Petrenko works well with very fine soloists in the vocal symphonies, and Naxos backs him with clear sound in Liverpool's Philharmonic Hall. Sure, there are a few blemishes -- notably the shapeless performance of the unexpectedly humorous Symphony No. 15, Op. 141 -- but nothing ought to be perfect, and this is a set that will give many hours of listening for years to come.

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