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Shostakovich: Symphony No.14


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Audio CD, April 29, 2014
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Shostakovich: Symphony No.14 + Shostakovich: Symphony No. 13, "Babi Yar" + Shostakovich: Symphony No. 4
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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
  • ASIN: B00I3KAWQQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,816 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

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.

Review

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

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Santa Fe Listener HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. S. Greenbank on 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Wolf on January 21, 2015
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Whatever one makes of Vasily Petrenko's pose with downcast eyes in the photo on the cover, he doesn't flinch from staring head-on at Shostakovich's tough-minded 14th Symphony. In this 11-movement cycle of poems for a reduced string section, an array of percussion, and soprano and bass soloists, Petrenko conducts with a depth of understanding I've missed in other Shostakovich CDs of his. Were it not for one major miscalculation, Naxos' disc would join the handful of notable recordings of the symphony that Shostakovich -- hospitalized with polio, ALS, heart disease, and lung cancer during much of the 14th's composition in 1969 -- considered a watershed in his career.

In this recording from May 2013, Petrenko has at his disposal two outstanding singers, Israeli soprano Gal James and Alexander Vinogradov, a Russian identified as a baritone but who has the voice of a true bass. From his opening "De profundis," Vinogradov outdoes his more famous compatriot Sergei Leiferkus Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 6 & 14 with Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Vinogradov comes fully into his own in "At the Santé Prison," the seventh-movement Adagio at the emotional center of the symphony and holds that elevated level through the ninth movement, "O Delvig, Delvig!"

The real star here is James, who has a lighter, brighter voice than is usual for the 14th but which proves to be unusually pliant and expressive. She starts a bit tentatively in "Malagueña," but after she warms up, she displays no shortage of dramatic power to go along with the beautiful lyricism she brings to the work. In the third song, "Lorelei," her inflection is ideal.
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