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Shostakovich: Symphony No.14

Gal James , Alexander Vinogradov , Dimitri Shostakovich , Vasily Petrenko , Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Vasily Petrenko
  • Composer: Dimitri Shostakovich
  • Audio CD (April 29, 2014)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,481 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews


The latest installment in this consistently superb Shostakovitch cycle--now on the home straight--is an intense journey through this dark work. --Gramophone Editor's Choice, May 2014

Product Description

At its June 1969 premiere, Shostakovich described his Symphony No. 14as a fight for the liberation of humanity...a great protest against death, a reminder to live ones life honestly, decently, nobly... Originally intending to write an oratorio, Shostakovich set eleven poems on the theme of mortality, and in particular early or unjust death, for two solo singers accompanied by strings and percussion. This is the penultimate release in Vasily Petrenkos internationally acclaimed symphonic cycle.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An engrossing, varied reading of a difficult work April 29, 2014
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Seeing that this release of the Shostakovich Fourteenth, a deeply gloomy work, debuted at #1 in classical recordings at Amazon,uk indicates how popular Vasily Petrenko has become and how notable his entire Shostakovich cycle - it will conclude with one more release (Sym. 13 "Babi Yar"). Probably more than any of his other projects on disc, this long symphonic cycle made Petrenko's name, because he showed that he could stand up to great Shostakovich conductors on the order of Bernstein, Mravinsky, Kondrahsin, and Rozhdestvensky with fresh ideas and his immense musical gifts.

His Fourteenth is "taut and unsparing," to quote the Financial Times, to which we can add knife-edged. Where Simon Rattle, in his excellent, much more plush version from Berlin, softened the relentless theme of death that ties these eleven poems together, Petrenko's spareness is more confrontational. As most Russian recordings of the score have done, he's chosen a bass soloist with a deep, resonant voice (Alexander Vinogradov) where Rattle chose the less lugubrious, more European-sounding Thomas Quasthoff. The young Israeli soprano Gal James seems remarkably adept at Russian, and her delivery has a touch of Slavic throatiness, adding to the reading's air of authenticity. (For the exact opposite, turn to Haitink's recording with Fischer-Dieskau and Julia Varady, singing the poems in their original languages, thus introducing Spanish, German, and French.)

Perhaps I should have led with a succinct judgment: This performance is as engrossing and musically convincing as the best of Petrenko's previous Shostakovich.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, and ticks all the right boxes. August 17, 2014
Format:Audio CD
This symphony was completed by Shostakovich in 1969, and premiered that same year. Dedicated to his friend, fellow composer Benjamin Britten, it is unusually structured - eleven linked movements/settings of poems by four different authors. The themes of death, and the pain and suffering leading to death pervade the work. Another novel element is the actual scoring, for soprano, bass, a chamber-sized string orchestra and percussion.

This is the penultimate release in the ongoing cycle by Petrenko and his forces, and it maintains the highest possible standards set by the previous offerings. The conductor, who seems to live and breath these works brings a logical and intelligent approach to this not overly performed symphony. The desolation and isolation are, at times, shocking.

Of the two excellent soloists, it is Vinogradov who is exceptionally fine, delivering a dramatic performance, with a resonant and richly warm tone. Petrenko brings intelligent insights to his reading, with all involved contributing to a performance of shared purpose. The percussion section comprises of a range of instruments including castanets, xylophone, vibraphone and celeste, and all emerge vividly in this exceptionally fine-sounding recording. The engineers have done a sterling job in the balance between the percussion section, the strings and the soloists, it couldn't be bettered.

My only quibble is the parsimonious CD duration of 49 minutes. I am sure something could have been included as a filler. At budget price, this release in a gem. Booklet notes by Richard Whitehouse set the context. Included are full texts and translations. Don't hesitate!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Shostakovich 14th Since Rostropovich June 16, 2014
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This new recording of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 14, one of his bleakest works, upholds the reputation of Vasily Petrenko as the foremost conductor of Shostakovich today. I have always cherished the recording made by Rostropovich with Vishnevskaya and Reshetin--the work's true benchmark. This new recording with the superb singing of Russian bass Alexander Vinogradov and Israeli soprano Gal James may not supersede Rostropovich's, but it is the only one I know that is at the same exalted level and in up-to-date sound. Tremendous stuff!
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