Vasily Petrenko talks to The Independent’s Edward Seckerson about the Shostakovich project at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

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“The charismatic St. Petersburg-born Vasily Petrenko has really been turning things around at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra since he took over as Principal Conductor in 2005.

With both standards and audiences on the up he has embarked upon his first major recording project – to record all 15 Shostakovich Symphonies for the Naxos label.

Two releases (8.572082, 8.572167) are now available and in this exclusive podcast he talks to Edward Seckerson about the project in general and the symphonies in particular. The 11th “The Year 1905” makes extensive use of revolutionary songs and graphically portrays the bloody massacre of over 200 peaceful demonstrators outside the Winter Palace on the 9th January that year. This now notorious passage which pitches a wall of percussion (five players) against shrill demented unisons is one of the most powerful depictions of unprovoked violence in 20th century music.

The other release couples Shostakovich’s most performed symphony, the 5th, a work of profound ambivalences written when the composer was under intense scrutiny from the Soviet authorities, and the 9th, a deceptively jaunty neo-classical piece which both confused and infuriated those who had been led to expect an epic in memory of Lenin. Shostakovich did so love to confound expectations.” The Independent 23/11/2009

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