Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The Liverpool Philharmonic and Vasily Petrenko

The Liverpool Philharmonic is hardly the Vienna or Berlin Philharmonic, but in Shostakovich conducted by Vasily Petrenko the Liverpudlians sound first class. As I've remarked before, a second-echelon orchestra playing its heart out is often more enjoyable than a top orchestra going through the motions. Jascha Horenstein was another conductor who could draw first class results from second-echelon orchestras. My latest sampling of Petrenko is with Shostakovich's eighth symphony, a work of which I am becoming very fond. Easy to lose one's tracks amidst 15 symphonies that I have only recently discovered – but I do recall having a special spot for numbers 8, 10 and 15 (plus one other, that I cannot remember). An aspect of Shostakovich's music that greatly appeals to me is its frequent mood changes – from sombre to merry, from savage to tender, from soft to (very) loud indeed. In the symphonies, Petrenko and his Liverpudlians come away as excellent guides. And the Naxos prices (and recording quality) also appeal. Listening demands either good quality headphones, or a manor on a secluded estate; the music can become very loud.

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