Reference Recordings proudly presents these two iconic works in definitive interpretations from Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, in superb audiophile sound. This DSD release was recorded in beautiful and historic Heinz Hall, home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. NativeDSD Music is the only place where you will find this album in the recorded DSD 256 Stereo & DSD 256 Multichannel bit rates!
In his fascinating and scholarly music notes, Maestro Honeck gives us insight into the history of both pieces and describes how he conducts and interprets each. He reminds us that the “Eroica” was a bold departure from earlier symphonies, a “dance symphony with dramatic inventiveness, full of new elements that had never been heard before.” He quotes Beethoven’s student Ferdinand Ries, who wrote “Beethoven played recently for me (the “Eroica”) and I believe both heaven and earth must tremble when it is performed.” Honeck puts his own inimitable stamp on this interpretation, giving the listener a chance to experience the novelties of the “Eroica” as if hearing it for the very first time.
William Caballero, Principal Horn of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and soloist on Strauss: Horn Concerto No. 1, provides a thrilling and masterful performance of this youthful Strauss work. Before joining PSO in 1989, he held Principal Horn positions with the Houston Symphony, Houston Grand Opera, and Hartford Symphony. He has performed as guest Principal Horn with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and the St. Louis Symphony. The booklet notes include his very interesting thoughts on the history and performance of the Concerto, in a question/answer format joined with Maestro Honeck.
This release is the eighth in the highly acclaimed Pittsburgh Live! series of Stereo and Multichannel DSD releases on the FRESH! series from Reference Recordings available at the NativeDSD Music Store. We encourage you to give them all a listen.
Total time: 01:05:13
|Original Recording Format|
John Newton (Strauss Horn Concerto No. 7) and Mark Donahue (Beethoven Symphony No. 3)
Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts, Pittsburgh, PA
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||September 21, 2018|
There’s nothing even remotely studied about Honeck’s performance unless one counts a tendency to anticipate sudden changes in dynamics. He pays unusual attention to detail, yes – note straight away the gently blossoming (and unmarked) crescendo on the ascending E flat major triad of the opening theme – but this never inhibits the music’s momentum or trajectory. The first movement is powerfully propulsive, in fact, with the full complement of Pittsburgh’s strings sounding as lithe as a chamber orchestra. Listen, say, to the springy accents at 0’27” or to the remarkable clarity and inexorable drive in the dizzying motivic tangle starting at 9’17”.
In the Marcia funebre, Honeck plays with chiaroscuro, painting the opening with dusky, febrile string tone and then gradually lifting the shadows in the maggiore segment while also allowing the musicians greater freedom to expressively limn their phrases. Indeed, the interpretation is strongly characterized from first note to last, with a particularly rambunctious and eventful Scherzo and finale – savor the earthy rhythms in the latter’s Hungarian verbunkos variation at 3’52”, for example, or the exultant, rustic rasp of horns in the Scherzo’s Trio.
William Caballero, Pittsburgh’s principal horn, shines in so many of the Eroica’s most memorable passages that it’s no wonder Reference chose to fill out the album with a brilliant account of Strauss’s First Concerto. Caballero has a more outdoorsy tone than Dennis Brain, whose 1947 recording with Alceo Galliera retains its power to astonish (EMI, 10/92), although this new version offers marvels of its own, from the long, arching phrases Caballero lavishes on lyrical passages to the Mendelssohnian playfulness he brings to the finale. Although taken from concerts five years apart, both works are vividly recorded.
BBC Music Magazine
I can’t remember the last time I was so thrilled by a Beethoven symphony performance as by this brilliantly recorded release. On a technical level alone, the orchestra’s playing is absolutely stunning. The Pittsburgh strings deliver crisp articulation combined with Central European warmth of sound in tandem with wonderfully defined and characterful playing from solo woodwind and brass.
But it’s Manfred Honeck’s interpretation that really gripped me. His ambitious objective is to uncover the radical novelties of the Eroica as if experienced for the first time. Although this may seem a tall order, Honeck nonetheless manages to achieve an amazing degree of freshness in his approach without any exaggerated gestures or idiosyncratic mannerisms. Employing a large orchestra, he takes infinite care to ensure that clarity and variety of texture remain paramount and that as wide as possible dynamic levels are faithfully observed.
Throughout the Eroica’s tempestuous journey, Honeck is extraordinarily receptive to some inner details of the score. Two notable examples are the uncanny premonition on the third horn of the fate theme from the Fifth Symphony, which appears near the end of the Funeral March, and Beethoven’s vivid folk-like scoring for clarinets and violas in the Hungarian style variation of the finale.
It may seem a bit of a let-down to follow such a compelling performance of the Eroica with Strauss’s far more musically modest First Horn Concerto. But if you are prepared to draw breath and momentarily press the pause button, there’s much to enjoy in William Caballero’s virtuosic projection of the solo part. 5 Stars.
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