Shostakovich's Symphony No.5 was given its premiere in 1937. It was outwardly in compliance with the ruling party, but the public heard a message of suffering in Shostakovich's masterpiece and it was an unprecedented triumph. Symphony No.12 "The Year 1917" was dedicated to Vladimir Lenin. Both works were premiered by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Yevgeny Mravinsky. The performances featured here were recorded in December 1965.
Internationally recognized as one of the most talented conductors of his generation, Yuri Temirkanov has been the Music Director and Chief Conductor of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra since 1988.
Leonard Bernstein's 1945 recording of the Fifth Symphony bears testament, if any were needed, to the prowess of the then 27-year-old wunderkind. The quality of the recording is low by modern standards, in particular the high strings and flutes, which take on a sibilant, peevish quality, but one can hear the authority of the performance all the same.
I believe this was Previn's first recording with the London Symphony, back in 1965. This period yielded a bumper crop of fine recordings with this team, including Nielsen's First Symphony, Scheherazade, and Tchaikovsky's Second Symphony. This is as fine a Shostakovich Fifth as I have ever heard. […]
The good news is this recording of Shostakovich's Eleventh Symphony is in the same class as the best ever made. The even better news is it's the start of a projected series of recordings of all the Soviet master's symphonies. Vasily Petrenko has demonstrated before this disc that he is among the most talented of young Russian conductors with superb recordings of Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony and of selected ballet suites. But neither of those recordings can compare with this Eleventh. Paired as before with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Petrenko turns in a full-scale riot of a performance that is yet tightly controlled and cogently argued. Said to depict the failed revolution of 1905, Shostakovich's Eleventh is not often treated with the respect it deserves, except, of course, by Yevgeny Mravinsky, the greatest of Shostakovich conductors whose two accounts have been deemed the most searing on record. Until now: Petrenko respects the composer's score and his intentions by unleashing a performance of staggering immediacy and violence, a virtuoso performance of immense drama, enormous tragedy, and overwhelming power.