Je prédis l'effondrement depuis plus de cinq ans. Ma prédiction est que les États-Unis s'effondreront financièrement, économiquement et politiquement dans l'avenir prévisible…
Featuring rare interview and performance footage, this documentary explores the diverse life and career of Dmitry Shostakovich under Stalin's dictatorial regime.
This disc is the first ever to offer the complete Shostakovich score to the 1964 Grigori Kozintsev film Hamlet. Actually, it contains a bit more: track 6 for example, "The Ball," presents music not heard in the film, music the composer wrote apparently because he wanted to reach a logical ending, even if in the film the music just fades away. There are 23 numbers in all, with a total timing of over 62 minutes. Stylistically, the music is related to the Eleventh (1957) and Thirteenth (1962) symphonies, but is of course less developmental and more programmatic, coming across as a sort of tone poem made up of many short movements. While there is a fair amount of bright, even happy music in the score, the mood is generally dark and intense, appropriately so considering the subject matter: Shakespeare's Hamlet is, after all, hardly a comedy. The music doesn't skim surfaces, either – it haunts, it sasses, it laughs, and it plumbs the depths.
This performance goes right to the top. Not since the amazing mono Ancerl recording has there been a version of this work of such intensity, such expressive urgency, and (yes, believe it or not) such incredible orchestral playing. It’s impossible to praise the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic enough: they put their London colleagues to shame. The cellos and basses have a dark, tactile presence in pianissimo not heard since the old Kondrashin Melodiya recording. The horns play the daylights out of their solos in the first and third movements, while Petrenko has the violins sustaining, articulating, and phrasing the climax of the first movement with a passion and grit that’s beyond praise. Indeed, as an essay in Shostakovich conducting alone this performance deserves an honored place in every collection. Petrenko has the players digging into the second movement with unbridled ferocity at an ideally swift tempo.
At its première in June 1969 Shostakovich described his Symphony No. 14, in effect a symphonic song cycle, ‘a fight for the liberation of humanity…a great protest against death, a reminder to live one’s 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 Petrenko’s internationally acclaimed symphonic cycle.
If one function of art is to make us ponder difficult questions and thus risk causing offence, there could not be a more potent example than Shostakovich’s 13th Symphony. Setting Babi Yar, Yevtushenko’s blistering denunciation of Soviet antisemitism, in the 1960s was an act of political defiance for the composer. First heard in this country in Liverpool, it is highly appropriate that it forms the conclusion and climax of the RLPO’s riveting Shostakovich cycle. The power this performance accumulates at the climaxes of the second and third movement is lacerating; the men’s choruses may not sound totally Russian, but Alexander Vinogradov is a superb bass soloist, and Vasily Petrenko is as good at gloomy introspection as he is at brittle confrontation.
Great performances of this massive symphony aren’t exactly thick on the field, but my goodness, this is one of them. Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic play with 100 percent commitment in every single bar. The first movement opens broadly, the intensity already palpable. Taking full advantage of excellent sound and a wide dynamic range (crank up the volume for this one), the central march and battle will have you sweating in your seat. The unrelentingly sustained passion that Petrenko brings to this long section triumphantly vindicates Shostakovich’s controversial vision, and at the same time makes short work of a 28-minute overall timing.