“The fourth volume in Vasily Petrenko's complete cycle of the symphonies of Dmitry Shostakovich presents the enigmatic Symphony No. 10 in E minor, a predominantly somber work whose opening Moderato is sometimes regarded as an orchestral Requiem for the victims of Stalin, though this characterization is not universally accepted. Composed shortly after the death of the Soviet leader, the Tenth is more widely understood as a release valve for Shostakovich's pent-up ideas, which had been repressed under Stalin; indeed, the second movement is said to be a portrait of him, his violent character unsparingly depicted with slashing rhythms, vulgar clichés, and harsh dissonances. There is also the appearance of the autobiographical motive DSCH (D-E flat-C-B) in the theme of the third movement, which provides a hint of some private, personal mystery. But much of this symphony is filled with open mourning and what seems to be ironic instability, most prominently shown in the long, elegiac first movement, but also in parts of the sardonic Allegretto and even in the Andante introduction to the hyperactive finale. Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra put tremendous emotional power and physical energy into this 2009 performance, and even though purists might prefer a full-blooded Russian ensemble playing this work, the musicians give it a passionate and insightful rendition. The reproduction is sharply focused and the orchestra is quite clear, whether in soft passages or in the most shattering climaxes.”
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