Vasily Petrenko

Prokofiev: Symphony No. 6 / Myaskovsky: Symphony No. 27

Price: € 19.95
Format: CD
Label: Lawo Classics
UPC: 7090020182377
Catnr: LWC 1215
Release date: 21 May 2021
1 CD
✓ in stock
€ 19.95
Lawo Classics
Catalogue number
LWC 1215
Release date
21 May 2021

"In Petrenko's view, it is above all the orchestral coloring that caresses the ear"

Opus Klassiek, 07-1-2022

About the album

Sergei Prokofiev (1891–1953) composed his Symphony No 6 in E flat minor, Opus 111 between 1945 and February 1947, though his sketches date from 1944 - before his completion of the Fifth Symphony. The scoring is for large orchestra includ­ing piccolo, cor anglais, E flat clarinet, contrabassoon, harp, piano, celesta and an array of percussion. Although the key of E flat minor is extremely rare in the symphonic literature, Myaskovsky also wrote a sixth symphony in that key.

Disappointed with the reception of his music in the West, Prokofiev hoped for a great welcome on his return to Rus­sia. As Francis Maes has written in A History of Russian Music, “While Serge Prokofiev’s talent is beyond question, his career as a composer was a succession of misjudge­ments …. All his actions from 1918 to 1932 can be seen as a step-by-step return, first to Western Europe, and then to Moscow …” By the latter part of the thirties many lead­ing composers were in America, while Prokofiev was locked away in Russia. By the time of his Sixth Symphony he had generally adapted to the state’s demand for upbeat, op­timistic music, yet this is a deep and personal work with an unmistakeably tragic element. Biographer Israel Nestyev wrote: “It seems as though the two Prokofievs, the old [of­ten spiky and subversive] and the new, were engaged in a struggle [between] powerful, genuine lyricism and sudden outbursts of unrestrained expressionism ...” Initially well re­ceived (Evgeny Mravinsky and the Leningrad Philharmonic gave the premiere in October 1947), the work was officially condemned the following year and was omitted from the
repertoire of Soviet orchestras for many years.

Prokofiev’s own comments on the work were typically (and unhelpfully) terse: “The first movement is agitated, at times lyrical, at times austere; the second movement, Largo, is brighter and more tuneful; the finale, rapid and in a major key, is close in character to that of my Fifth Symphony, save for reminiscences of the austere passages in the first movement.” He also acknowledged that the symphony was partly inspired by the war years. “Now we are rejoicing in our great victory, but each of us has wounds which cannot be healed”.

Nikolai Myaskovsky (1881–1950) completed the last of his symphonies – in C minor, Opus 85 – in November 1949. His twenty-seven works in this genre are so remarkably diverse in character that it is almost impossible to define the “typical” Myaskovsky symphony. No 27 is often described as one of his most popular, but actually we would be very fortunate to find any of his symphonies, or any other compositions, programmed in a concert-hall outside Russia. Were it not for CDs and a very rare broadcast, we should never hear a note of his music. However, in the late 1930’s his music was more frequently performed in America, the Chicago Symphony’s conductor Frederick Stock being a notable advocate. Other major American-based conductors who “fought over rights to his scores” (Richard Taruskin) included Stokowski, Koussevitsky and Artur Rodzinski. Shostakovich regarded him as “the major symphonist after Mahler”, while Prokofiev wrote that Myaskovsky “was something of a philosopher – his music is wise, passionate, gloomy and self-absorbed”.


Vasily Petrenko is one of the most significant and galvaniz­ing musicians alive. He became famous for his transformative work at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the oldest orchestra in the United Kingdom, where he refashioned the orchestra’s sound, reconnected the organization to its home city and pre­sided over a huge increase in ticket sales. He quickly came to represent a new generation of conductors ready to combine their uncompromising artistic work with a passion for com­munication and inclusion.

Vasily was born in St Petersburg in 1976 and trained at the city’s famous conservatoire. As a student, he took part in a masterclass with Mariss Jansons, the conductor who helped establish the Oslo Philharmonic as one of the great orchestras of the world. After winning a handful of competitions, Vasily became Chief Conductor of the St. Petersburg State Academic Symphony Orchestra in 2004 and later principal guest con­ductor at the city’s Mikhailovsky Theatre.

Vasily is one of the most acclaimed classical recording art­ists alive and has won numerous accolades for his recordings of Russian repertoire, including two Gramo-phone awards. With the Oslo Philharmonic, he has recorded Shostakovich and Szymanowski concertos, Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev, as well as two major cycles of orchestral works by Alexander Scriabin and Richard Strauss respectively.

Vasily has conducted the London, Sydney, Chicago, Vienna, San Francisco, and NHK Symphony Orchestras as well as the Russian National Orchestra, the Orchestre de la Suisse Ro­mande and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. In February 2018 he made his debut with the Berliner Philhar­moniker. He has conducted at the Zurich, Paris and Hamburg Operas and at Glyndebourne, and in 2019 made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Vasily Petrenko was chief conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic for seven years and conducted the orchestra in Berlin, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, San Sebastian, Edinburgh, Tokyo, Hongkong and Tai­pei. He led the orchestra through its 100th anniversary season in 2019/20, including a European tour to Bucuresti, Amsterdam, Cologne, Hamburg, Vienna, Ljubljana, Udine, Turin and London. He is frequently invited back as guest conductor.

On 27 September 1919, a new orchestra took to the stage of the old Logan Hall in Oslo to give its first public concert. Con­ductor Georg Schnéevoigt presided over thrilling performanc­es of Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto and Christian Sinding’s First Symphony. After forty years of making- do, the Norwe­gian capital had at last got the orchestra it deserved. The Oslo Philharmonic was born. In the eight months that followed, the Oslo Philharmonic gave 135 concerts, most of which sold out. It tackled passionate Mahler, glistening Debussy and thrusting Nielsen. Soon, world famous musicians were coming to con­duct it, relishing its youth and enthusiasm. Igor Stravinsky and Maurice Ravel visited Oslo to coach the musicians through brand new music. National broadcaster NRK began to hang microphones at the orchestra’s concerts, transmitting them to the whole of Norway.

Over the next half-century, the Oslo Philharmonic’s reputa­tion grew steadily. Then, in 1979, it changed forever. A young Latvian arrived in Norway, taking the orchestra apart section-by-section, putting it back together a finely tuned machine with a whole new attitude. Under Mariss Jansons, the orches­tra became a rival to the great Philharmonics of Vienna, Berlin and New York. It was soon playing everywhere, from Seattle to Salzburg, Lisbon to London. Back home in Oslo, it got a mod­ern, permanent concert hall of its own. In 1986, EMI drew up the largest orchestral contract in its history, ensuring the world would hear the rich, visceral sound of the Oslo Philharmonic.

In Oslo’s burgeoning cultural scene, the Philhamonic under Petrenko has been a vital and forward-looking centenarian. The subscription season in Oslo features the best musicians in the business. New works include commissions by Steve Reich, Kaija Saariaho, Bent Sørensen and Lera Auerbach in addition to a host of young Norwegian composers. Outdoor concerts attract tens of thousands; education and outreach programmes connect the orchestra with many hundreds more.

Vasily Petrenko has led the orchestra through its 100th anni­versary season, including a European tour where the orches­tra has appeared in Romania, the UK, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Italy.

In August 2020 Klaus Mäkelä took over as chief conductor and artistic adviser, opening the orchestra's 101st season with a performance of Mahler's First Symphony.


In Petrenko's view, it is above all the orchestral coloring that caresses the ear
Opus Klassiek, 07-1-2022

The finale is rhythmically razorsharp, fresh, kicking like a synchronous horde of fourlegged friends.
Opus Klassiek, 05-1-2022

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