A Conversation With VASILY PETRENKO: RLPO Shostakovich Symphonies

Posted on March 12th, 2013

Vasily PetrenkoVasily Petrenko’s highly acclaimed cycle of the Shostakovich Symphonies with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra reaches an important chapter in what Petrenko himself calls a “biopic” of the composer’s life and times. The 7th Symphony “Leningrad” chronicles one of the most shameful episodes in the annals of man’s inhumanity to man – the 900-day Nazi siege of Leningrad. It was written in the midst of unimaginable suffering and comes directly from the front line of defense like a series of musical dispatches. There was no more important piece written anywhere in the world in 1941. Microfilm of the score was smuggled out of the besieged city and flown to Teheran where it continued its onward journey to Britain and America where Henry Wood (founder of the Proms) and Arturo Toscanini respectively gave Western premieres. A native of Leningrad/ St. Petersburg, Petrenko feels especially close to the work’s humanistic spirit, its defiance and resilience, and marvels as do we all at the highly-personalised message of the most original slow movement the composer ever penned.

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