The Eleventh Symphony by Dmitri Shostakovich gets its character by the creation of atmosphere, color, and the repetition of simple folk-like tunes and musical motives. Conductor Vasily Petrenko captures this atmosphere by showing us Shostakovich’s contrasts of the string colors of the opening, the massacre sequence in the second movement, and also in the extroverted ending, with cymbals, bells, and tam-tam making their contributions.
This symphony was composed to mark the 50th anniversary of the revolution of 1905 though it was completed two years later. Petrenko emphasizes the symphonic coherence of the hour-long work. He gets playing of great substance from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, setting the scene in the opening movement “The Palace Square” beautifully; the 3rd movement “In Memoriam” is very moving, and the brutality of the final movement also comes off with great vividness.
Vasily Petrenko is the Principal Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Between 1994 and 1997, Petrenko was Resident Conductor at the St Petersburg State Opera and Ballet Theatre in the Mussorgsky Memorial Theatre. During this time he gained an enormous amount of operatic experience and he now has over 30 operas in his repertoire.
For Mr. Peterenko’s blog, click here:
Here is a section of the 4th movement of the Shostakovich, titled “The Tocsin”: