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Strauss: Don Juan, Death and Transfiguration, Till Eulenspiegel / Honeck

Strauss / Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra / Honeck
Release Date: 11/12/2013 
Label:  Reference Recordings   Catalog #: 707   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Manfred Honeck
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mixed 
Length: 0 Hours 59 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews




Recordings like this restore one’s faith in the possibility of true musical greatness. Manfred Honeck conducts this music as do few others today. He’s not afraid to have a good time, nor is he a strict literalist. In his notes he speaks almost apologetically of a couple of liberties he takes–in the judgment scene of Till Eulenspiegel (with the dynamics of the solo clarinet), and at the moment of death just before the coda of transfiguration, where he lets the tam-tam reverberate for a few extra bars – surely what Strauss intended in both cases, even if it’s not exactly what he wrote.

What Honeck doesn’t mention
Read more is the added bass drum part in Don Juan, or the extra thud for the same instrument in Till Eulenspiegel. All of this is done quite sensibly, to be honest, but the point is that these and other distinctive touches never sound mannered or gratuitous. Rather, they offer evidence of Honeck’s remarkable engagement with the music, his belief in it, and his willingness to do whatever he deems necessary to realize Strauss’ programmatic vision as vividly as possible. For all of their larger-than-life qualities, Honeck remains sensitive to every dynamic nuance, intricacy of balance, and rhythmic quirk. Every one of these versions ranks with the best available.

The Pittsburgh Symphony plays the living daylights out of this music. Really, is there another group out there today that can play with this kind of bravura? For example, listen to the way that Honeck slows down for the big horn tune in Don Juan (sound clip), and my goodness, how these players make a meal of it! The live sonics are, typically for Reference Recordings, of demonstration quality whether in stereo or 5.1 surround sound, and the audience is almost perfectly silent. This disc is the first in a new partnership between Reference Recordings, Pittsburgh, and Honeck–a rebirth for the label, and a huge victory for serious classical music lovers everywhere.

– David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Don Juan, Op. 20 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Manfred Honeck
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889; Germany 
Venue:  Live  Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts, Pitt 
Length: 18 Minutes 30 Secs. 
2.
Tod und Verklärung, Op. 24 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Manfred Honeck
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889; Germany 
Venue:  Live  Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts, Pitt 
Length: 26 Minutes 17 Secs. 
3.
Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Manfred Honeck
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894-1895; Germany 
Venue:  Live  Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts, Pitt 
Length: 14 Minutes 35 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Don Juan, Op. 20, TrV 156
Tod und Verklarung (Death and Transfiguration), Op. 24, TrV 158
Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche (Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks), Op. 28, TrV 171

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Compelling Strauss January 29, 2014 By Joseph Lieber, MD (Great Neck, NY) See All My Reviews "Honeck and the Pittsburgh symphony offer a great Strauss program, beautifully recorded by Reference Recordings. These are Strauss staples and they boast the intensity and lyriciam of these pieces. These may not overtake some of the greatest recordings of these works. You will get beautiful conducting and orchestral sound in splendid sonics. There isn't much more to wish for." Report Abuse
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