On Sunday, November 7th, Kirill Petrenko led the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert at the Baden-Baden Festspielhaus. Despite the current Pandemic, the concert opened to an almost full house with Mendelssohn’s Third Symphony, the Scottish. It seemed as though a few stragglers had not received the initial down beat but one all the players were on the same page the symphony preceded though a smooth and pleasant, if unmemorable, journey through the Scottish landscape.
The journey after the interval was quite another matter. The hushed opening of Shostakovich’s Symphony No 10, beautifully molded by Petrenko, let to a virtuosic traversal of this powerful work. Each movement, each contrasting passage, was superbly characterized with supple rhythms and dynamics that ebbed and flowed between the frenzied marches and blows of the surrounding nightmare. The players were at their impressive best, from the speed and unanimity of the driving, jagged string chords, to the outstanding wind and brass soloists. Music and musicians seemed to have been made for each other.
The audience cheered as one with the final chord, delivering a prolonged – standing! – ovation.
Kirill Petrenko has not recorded his brilliant interpretation of Shostakovich’s 10th Symphony but his brother Vasily has recorded an equally outstanding interpretation with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.