In his fascinating and scholarly music notes, Maestro Honeck gives us great insight into the history of both pieces, and describes how he conducts and interprets each. He reminds us that Joseph Stalin's Soviet government was offended by Shostakovich's previous works. Under threat of arrest or banishment to Siberia, Shostakovich devised a new, less-complex compositional style for the 5th Symphony, still full of irony and double meaning, to appease Stalin and appeal to the common people. The Adagio of Samuel Barber is his most performed work, and one of the most popular of all 20th Century orchestral works. It is beloved for its beautiful simplicity and emotion. Manfred Honeck describes Barber's 1967 a capella version for mixed choir using the ''Agnus Dei'' text, and tells us his own interpretaiton is inspired by this text. He says it is ''for me, without a doubt, the key to finding a deeper sense of this piece. Perhaps it is for this reason that the Adagio has enchanted and moved audiences around the world since its very first incarnation and has continued to do so in all subsequent versions born since.'' This release is the seventh in the highly acclaimed Pittsburgh Live! series of releases from Reference Recordings.
One might argue that the most recorded of Shostakovich’s symphonies hardly needs another reading, but that’s not taking into account the muscular approach that Manfred Honeck takes here, continuing his unbroken series of impressive recordings for the Reference label. Honeck concentrates more on the sheer elemental power of the piece, and this is music that responds well to that particular orientation. The fill-up, Barber’s Adagio, receives a particularly sensitive reading, although one could wish that Honeck might have chosen something Russian as accompaniment. Customarily exemplary audiophile sound enhances Honeck’s performance.
Symphony no 5 in D minor, Op. 47by Dmitri Shostakovich Conductor:
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1937; USSR
Adagio for Strings, Op. 11by Samuel Barber Conductor:
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1936; Rome, Italy
Average Customer Review: ( 3 Customer Reviews )
Disappointing GrammyApril 7, 2018By Gerald B. (Eugene, OR)See All My Reviews"This recording should have been the best Shostakovich 5th but it is not. The poor mixing and editing of the live performance has ruined the recording. The wonderful performances of the Pittsburgh Symphony on the radio are poorly represented on this recording. Instead of a "muscular" recording with great dynamic range, we are given a tepid, polite and often boring sound...no "goosebumps" here! Instead, listen to the incredible live recording(2016)of Andris Nelsons Boston Symphony; truly the best and most exciting! Why was the Barber Adagio added to this recording? It is totally out of place...The Shostakovich 5th was created with Stalin in mind. The adagio instantly brings back memories of the death of JFK. Terrible pairing."Report Abuse
DisappointingMarch 19, 2018By Robert Stumpf II (Ocala, FL)See All My Reviews"Two of my favorite pieces of music and got good reviews. I have also been impressed with other Honeck recordings. As I listened, however, I became uneasy...something was missing. Then I pulled out the live performance with Stokowski and the LSO from 1964. The sound is as good as here and the performance puts this to shame...in fact it towers over all others, even the two commercial ones by Stokowski. Stokowski gets the strings to emote...there is poignancy, aching beauty.....Then I turned to Stokowski's recording of the Barber...same thing. No comparison..."Report Abuse
A 5+ RecordingOctober 17, 2017By Andrew B. (Pittsburgh, PA)See All My Reviews"The Pittsburgh Symphony orchestra and manfred Honeck have done it again! Two wonderful performances that stand out from other interpretations. This is especially so for the Shostakovich 5th Symphony. It is a performance that is measured; intense; even lyrical at times; and, in the end, ultimately satisfying."Report Abuse