These two hugely contrasting symphonies come from the opposite ends of Shostakovich’s life and career. The Second Symphony was written to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Bolshevik October Revolution. Its advanced idiom of experimental textures and abstract effects can perhaps be best described as organised musical chaos. The Fifteenth was Shostakovich’s last symphony and is filled with remarkable contrasts, from the rollicking quotes from Rossini’s William Tell Overture and eerie references to Wagner’s Götterdämmerung and Tristan und Isolde, to the last and perhaps most imaginative of the composer’s symphonic passacaglias.
Widely admired as having ‘superlative standards’ (BBC Music Magazine) and going ‘from strength to strength’ (Gramophone), Vasily Petrenko’s Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Shostakovich symphonic cycle has gained critical acclaim from every quarter, and each new release generates its own not inconsiderable gravitational field. Volume 7 cleverly pairs the ‘difficult’ but remarkably dramatic Second Symphony with the simultaneously rousing, enigmatic and emotionally draining Fifteenth in performances which once again set new standards.
Vasily Petrenko became Chief Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in September 2009, and in 2013 will become Chief Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. He was the Classical BRIT Awards Male Artist of the Year 2010 and the Classic FM/Gramophone Young Artist of the Year 2007. In 2009 he was awarded Honorary Doctorates by the University of Liverpool and Liverpool Hope University.