Conductor Manfred Honeck writes in his fascinating and thorough music notes: “A recording of Beethoven is always a great occasion and event. The marrying of the music’s historic interpretation with the brilliance of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s playing and the fantastic technique of Soundmirror have made this recording, comprised of three live concerts from December 2014, possible. It has been a joy to look deeply into that which Beethoven has composed, while also discovering the sense and content of the music and thus the reason why it has been written. For me, this is always the most beautiful part of the creative process.”
This release is the fourth in the highly acclaimed Pittsburgh Live! series of multi-channel hybrid DSD recordings in the Fresh! series from Reference Recordings. Each album, including the newest Bruckner 4 (FR-713) has received dozens of critical accolades. Dvorák/Janáek (FR-710), garnered a GRAMMY® nomination for Best Orchestral Performance.
Since 1896, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has been known for its artistic excellence, a rich history of the world’s finest conductors and musicians, and a strong commitment to the Pittsburgh region and its citizens. Past music directors have included many of the greats, including Fritz Reiner (1938-1948), William Steinberg (1952-1976), Andre Previn (1976-1984), Lorin Maazel (1984-1996) and Mariss Jansons (1995-2004). This tradition of outstanding international music directors was furthered in fall 2008, when Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck became music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony.
Total time: 01:11:16
Mark Donahue (Soundmirror)
|Original Recording Format|
DXD and DSD DXD (352.8KHx 24 bit PCM) is the best, least destructive format for post processing digital recordings available today. Unless mixing and balancing are performed in analog prior to digitizing, post processing is a requirement of a multi-mic'ed recording session, particularly of large ensembles.
Interestingly, we found after listening to DSD files made from DXD edited masters that the DSD, particularly the higher bit rate examples, sounded more natural, spacious, and life-like than their DXD parent from which they were made. If these observations are validated by wider listener experiences, it then points out the effects of the different processes DAC’s use in processing PCM and DSD data streams. Since the vast majority of DAC’s today are Sigma-Delta modulator based, these are less effects from the filtering necessary for PCM conversion with a DSD input. Please take advantage of this opportunity to experience for the first time from a major large orchestra quality recording the full span of DSD and DXD bit and sample rates. – Tom Caulfield, Mastering Engineer for Native DSD.
Dirk Sobotka (SoundMirror)
Mark Donahue, John Newton (Soundmirror)
Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||November 11, 2015|
“The Music Played Effortlessly
Listening to the superb sounding Reference Recording Beethoven Symphony No. 5 and 7 performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra / Manfred Honeck conducting was the best playback I have heard of this DSD256 version. This recording was extraordinarily expressive and involving heard through the Syrah / Merlot system. Spatial soundstaging clues were easily heard with wonderful resolution of micro dynamic details. The sound was harmonically rich with exceptional bloom and dimensionality. ” (The DSD 256 version of the album is only available from Native DSD)
The latest album from Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven’s Symphonies 5 and 7 on Reference Recordings are dashing performances. Via the Merging Technologies NADAC MC-8 (Multichannel-8) DAC, that continuous spatial envelopment spread the PSO widely across the front stage, their sound entirely incorporated into the hall’s ambience. Brass sections were almost explosively exuberant in both symphonies, yet remained musically integrated with the rest of the performance, and the dynamic range was staggering. Listening sessions with these masterpieces through the NADAC at near-concert levels have been some of my most thrilling listening experiences.
Any way you figure it, the Fifth is demonstrably Beethoven’s most popular and ubiquitous composition. I cut my aesthetic teeth on this symphony. I can remember as a child standing in the living room of our house in New Jersey listening to an early vinyl disc, in ultra-low fidelity, on my father’s patchwork record player.
All I can say is that Maestro Honeck’s temporal conception of this symphony, which is quite fast, is so spot on, it makes what remains of my hair stand on end. I was literally lost for words. Once I managed to speak at all, I could only say, This is the greatest Fifth I’ve ever heard.
And the clarity and control! The members of the PSO must love working with this conductor. It is apparent that he demands a lot of his musicians, and that they give it to him with knobs on. It is rare, very rare, to hear a large ensemble of musicians play with such impeccable precision and passion.
In the Seventh, as I always so, I concentrated on the Allegretto because it has long been my favorite movement of this symphony. And this Allegretto proffers riches for our delectation, emotionally, melodically, rhythmically. I’ve never heard a version quite like this. In it’s wake it leaves the sense of excitement and fulfillment that arise when aesthetic intelligence is combined with great heartedness.
I hope I have said enough to encourage you to buy this disc. Like every Reference Recordings disc I’ve heard, the sound quality is superb, microphone placement impeccable.
As I listened to Reference Recording’s Beethoven: Symphonies 5 & 7 performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony with Manfred Honeck conducting, I realized just how impressive sounding the Platinum Starlight 7 was.
This DSD 256 recording was sourced from a DXD master. Interesting enough, Reference Recordings felt that the higher bit DSD conversions sounded “more natural, spacious, and life-like than their DXD parent from which they were made.”
The Platinum Starlight 7 was simply stellar in its ability to reproduce the air and bloom around the instruments. There was a purity and liquidity through this cable that reproduced the rich tonal colors of the orchestra. The jet-black background allowed low level information to emerge with great clarity. The dynamic qualities of this orchestral recording were found to be excellent and never seemed to sound hard or blurred with the Platinum Starlight 7. A fine musical experience.
The Arts Desk
Award “Best Classical Albums of 2015”
Beethoven liked large-scale performances and he’d presumably have approved of Manfred Honeck’s Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performances of Symphonies 5 and 7. This is sensational orchestral playing, beautifully recorded, and these readings have an irresistible sweep and grandeur. One of those rare recordings which should leave you speechless after listening, desperate to repeat the experience. It’s that good, and a reminder that classical music can still sound exciting and relevant.
Taking the fifth symphony as an example, one notes that interpretational drive, richly inspired by Beethoven’s inner conflicts, unrelenting fury and continuous struggle to conquer defeat, sweeps up the orchestra to the limits of what it can handle. For any orchestra of lesser quality this would have led to complete chaos. Here, the result is breathtaking.
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