RLPO/Petrenko, Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
Thursday 02 April 2009
The sound could be hard-driven, in the style of the legendary Mravinsky who conducted the first performance, while being remarkably subtle.
Petrenko clearly has this music in his blood. No basking for him in the glowing reviews for the first issue (Symphony No 11) in his promised series of all fifteen Shostakovich symphonies for Naxos. He seems driven – a conductor with absolute confidence in his Liverpool musicians. The Eighth Symphony is being recorded in a fortnight. Written in 1943, two years after the sensational "Leningrad" Seventh, No 8 avoids heroic peroration. Instead, there's spiritless bewilderment, a kind of numbed whimsy and an emptiness of post- apocalyptic proportions.
From the opening threnody as the strings ground out their harrowing theme through the fourth movement. The equally eloquent woodwind created a petrified landscape in the fourth movement, flutter-tonguing flutes whirring cheerlessly. Brass blared, the percussion hammered home its point and, woodwind screeched. Individual players brought vivid character to each of their solos: languishing cor anglais, haunting cello, punchy trumpet and eerie bassoon. If anything could sum up the excellent integrated, ensemble quality of the RLPO, it was the way in which solo lines emerged effortlessly and perfectly pitched, only to glide seamlessly back into the orchestral tapestry.
After Schubert's jovial Rosamunde Overture, Mahler's Songs of a Wayfarer, as advertised, would have given the concert a different dimension. As it was we heard the Adagio from Mahler's Tenth Symphony instead.
What the performance lacked in the last degree of lucidity of sound and certainty of line it made up for in the way the players tore into what has been described as "the most horror-struck moment in musical history" but – wrong time, wrong place – the piece paled in comparison with the Shostakovich that followed.
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
Final Top Gear reviewTV
FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets
Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 2 Iain Duncan Smith's expenses credit card is suspended after he runs up £1,000 debt to taxpayer
- 3 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 4 French woman dies in freak bungee jumping accident
- 5 Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck to divorce and end their 10-year marriage
Top Gear: Former co-host James May to present new BBC2 car show
The Rolling Stones announce biggest ever touring rock exhibition with Saatchi Gallery
Glastonbury 2015: The best bits you missed from Lionel Richie and the Dalai Lama to The Libertines' secret set
Glastonbury 2015: The picture of a man crowd surfing in a wheelchair is brilliant, but it wasn't taken at Glastonbury
Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James' Twitter Q&A didn't exactly go as planned
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS
Tunisia beach attack: How can British Muslims respond to the latest outrages?