SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No 10
Petrenko’s Shostakovich cycle goes from strength to strength, and hardly any of the reservations I voiced over his Eighth apply to this profound and passionate account of No 10.
This is a symphony that places a high premium on a conductor’s ability to shape long lines with subtle inflections of tempo and structural accent, especially in the epic first movement’s journey from mystery to tragic climax and back. In this respect Petrenko lives up to – I venture to say, even surpasses – the greatest of his compatriots, joining the earlier Karajan account as the most satisfying I could name. Only the very slight jolt in dynamic level on the way down from the passionate central phase (at 15'08") fractionally disappoints.
The denunciatory Scherzo is as hefty and as furious as any, or would be if only the trumpets rang out more fiercely at the high-point (from 3'45"). I don’t know whether to lay the blame at the door of players, conductor or engineers, but this apparent misplaced reticence is the same weakness I felt in Petrenko’s Eighth, so I hope it can be overcome in future issues.
At any rate it is not long before the third movement casts its spell, with the perfect watchful tentativeness at the opening and some inspired pointing of colour and accent in the first statement of the “DSCH” theme. Here and in the finale Petrenko’s instinct for pacing enables the power of Shostakovich’s symphonic design to register to maximum effect. If there has been a finer account of the Tenth in recent years, I confess I must have missed it; and I would be surprised. With the possible exception of the brass balance, noted above, the Naxos recording is clear and full-bodied.