£16 post free World-wide

 


555 sonatas 9Cds mp3 files
Only £22


 


Benjamin: Written on Skin £16

Search
What's New
Previous CDs
Concerts
Jazz
Nostalgia
Composers
Resources
Announce
Labels index


Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Some items
to consider


Shostakovich 14 Petrenko


Rachmaninov #3
Prokofiev #2

 


Dunedin Consort

Peter Grimes

Hymn of Jesus: Sea Drift

Complete Mozart Edition
Mozart complete edition

Vaughan Williams Symphonies 5 & 8 £11

Weiner, Klepper, Bloch, Schulhoff £12 post free


Available again


 
REVIEW
BARGAIN OF THE MONTH



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
CDAccord
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter
 

alternatively
CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline


Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47 (1937) [51:36]
Symphony No. 9 in E flat major, Op. 70 (1945) [26:31]
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko
rec. Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, UK, 7-8 July 2008 (Symphony No. 5) and 29-30 July 2008 (Symphony No. 9)
NAXOS 8.572167 [78:07] 

Experience Classicsonline


Something special would have to make me recommend a CD containing two of Shostakovich’s most popular symphonies, especially the ubiquitous Fifth. Before doing some comparisons with a few recordings of the past, I can state outright that these performances, as part of Petrenko’s continuing cycle, are more than competitive with their illustrious predecessors. Petrenko indeed has the measure of both works and he has the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic sounding a world-class ensemble. Furthermore, the recorded sound is full and vibrant, leaving little to be desired. 

My introduction to the Shostakovich Fifth was sometime in 1959 or 1960 when I heard the Leonard Bernstein recording, fresh from the orchestra’s successful Moscow performances. I was blown away by that recording. What a shock, then, to hear it a number of years later as performed by the USSR State Symphony under the composer’s son. It sounded like a different work, especially the finale which I thought ridiculously slow and pompous. The orchestra sounded rough - especially next to the sleek New York Philharmonic - and the recording was frankly awful in the pressing I heard. Of course, this was before the so-called Shostakovich memoirs as related by Solomon Volkov came out. Nowadays Bernstein sounds ludicrously fast, if still brilliant. Living in the Washington, DC area I had the opportunity to get to appreciate Mstislav Rostropovich’s interpretations with the National Symphony Orchestra. Petrenko’s account of the finale reminds me of Rostropovich’s with the coda hammered out as slowly as possible and a forced “triumph” that’s hard to endure. It is extremely powerful and very convincing on its own terms. I compared this new version with three others, not having one of Rostropovich’s to hand: Bernstein’s (1959), Haitink’s, with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, Ashkenazy’s, with the Royal Philharmonic, and Maxim Shostakovich’s, with the London Symphony. Here are the timings:

 
I
II
III
IV
Bernstein
16:13
4:54
15:33
8:55
Haitink
17:59
5:23
15:36
10:32
Ashkenazy
16:36
5:19
14:45
10:59
M. Shostakovich
18:57
5:21
17:06
12:16
Petrenko
18:01
5:12
15:34
12:50

As you can see from the above, there is no consensus on tempos for the individual movements, except maybe the second movement, Scherzo. Nor should there necessarily be. This is what makes having different interpretations of the standard repertoire valuable. Tempos do not tell the whole story by far, but comparing Bernstein’s and Petrenko’s timings for the finale is very telling! Another characteristic that distinguishes this new account is the huge dynamic range, from the softest pianissimos to the loudest fortissimos I have ever heard in this symphony. Part of this may be due to the recording, but I think most of the credit must go to the conductor and orchestra. Next to Petrenko, Haitink seems rather urbane but still convincing and beautifully played. Ashkenazy, whose recording was my preferred CD version until now, presents more of a middle-of-the-road view, blessed by vivid sonics on his Decca recording. However, I now find the added horn and trumpet swoops, à la Mahler, in the second movement, irritating on repetition. Maxim Shostakovich’s account is rather odd, I think. After his unrefined, but idiomatic USSR Symphony version, he smoothed out all the edges when he recorded it with the London Symphony. It is no doubt wonderfully played, with especially gorgeous horns in the Scherzo, but leaves little impact. The recording is also more distant than the others and may contribute to this impression. I have not heard his more recent account with Prague Symphony, but others have found it an improvement over the London version. Right now, having heard the Petrenko quite a few times, I would place it at or near the top of the heap. It will be the one I will listen to now whenever I’m in the mood for this particular work, which is not all that often.

The Ninth Symphony, though, is one of my favorite Shostakovich symphonies. Here my basis for comparison, and my favored CD version, is Neeme Järvi’s with the Scottish National Orchestra on Chandos. Järvi brings out the humor in the score as well as I have ever heard it. Drawbacks are the less than perfect tuning of the trombones in the fourth movement and the reverberant recording which has a longer decay than is optimal for this symphony. Right from the beginning, I was impressed with the sound on the new Petrenko recording of this symphony. It is very clear, yet not at all clinical and with plenty of warmth where required. Also the orchestra performs here at least as well as it does in the Fifth. I should especially mention the outstanding clarinetist in the second movement, and equally outstanding trombones (with tuba) and bassoon in the fourth. No tuning problems there. Where I still have a preference for the Järvi is in the gruff humor he finds in the symphony. Petrenko’s is a more subtle, classical account without the humor being as obvious. His tempos are also more extreme. For example, his second movement Moderato takes 8:47 whereas Järvi gets through it in 6:31. It is marked moderato, after all. Still, Petrenko does not sound slow and is convincing. His third movement Presto, on the other hand, is faster than any version I have heard - truly presto. It is exhilarating and the orchestra manages to keep up miraculously well. Järvi’s is only 12 seconds longer, but seems noticeably slower. Petrenko is as light as a feather here and the music just breezes by. So again, Petrenko has given us a good alternative to other favorite versions.

To sum up: at the level of musicianship present in this new recording, we definitely need another Shostakovich Fifth and Ninth Symphony pairing, particularly at Naxos’ bargain price. I must also mention the excellent notes by Richard Whitehouse that not only discuss the works at hand, but also trace the composer’s symphonic development.

Leslie Wright 

 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools






Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.