Reference Recordings proudly presents these two iconic works in definitive interpretations from Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, in superb audiophile sound. This release was recorded in beautiful and historic Heinz Hall, home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. In his fascinating and scholarly 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 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 bothRead more 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. This release is the eighth in the highly acclaimed Pittsburgh Live! series from Reference Recordings. The previous release Shostakovich 5/Barber Adagio won the Grammy in February 2018 for Best Orchestral Performance and Best Engineered Classical Album.
In this Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh recording, it’s evident that Manfred Honeck entirely acknowledges that this progressive score is music of extensive concentration, intensity and, as the designation might suggest, heroic power. Bold and focused, naturally flowing and stimulating with an undertow of mystery in the Allegro, this performance from the Pittsburgh players seems to convey Beethoven’s sense of defiance in the face of adversity. Underpinned by the rich low strings, the angst-ridden and world-weary tread given to the renowned Marche funèbre is both resolute and entirely respectful. Impressive is Honeck’s stark underlining of the recurrent divergence of dark and light. With power and exuberance, a character of unbridled joy imbues the Scherzo, with some arresting playing from the horns. With striking immediacy in the Finale, it feels as if the spirit of life has broken free with Honeck providing swirling and dramatic power. This results in an impact that is both compelling and uplifting.
In the opening Allegro of Richard's Horn Concerto No. 1, the assured playing of Caballero seems to underline the substantial heroic character of the writing. In the enchanting Andante, written in the manner of a Romanza, the soloist’s expressive capabilities shine through, together with the most beautiful tone in the impressively long held notes and phrases. Noticeable in the Finale: Allegro a Scherzo, which requires considerable virtuosity, is Caballero’s rock-solid technique and unerring musicianship. Honeck’s gratifying orchestral accompaniment is hard to fault. William Caballero is in sterling form, giving an extremely enjoyable and stylish performance. It would be remiss not to mention how outstandingly the sound engineers have captured the rich tone of the horn. This outstanding new Caballero recording is one I will revisit again and again.
Worth hearingMarch 24, 2019By Tony K. (Lakewood, CO)See All My Reviews"I found this to be a very interesting recording. It prompted me to listen to the first couple of minutes of each of the 21 other recordings I have of this work in my music library. Honeck plays this at about the speed indicated by the metronome speeds claimed to be Beethovens as do Chailly, Harnoncourt, and Norrington (and probably others that I do not have in my library). Depending upon your subjective view of this music you may call it urgent and exciting or rushed; but it is not the speed that caught my immediate attention. The music comes across initially with an aggressive and angry feel to an extent I have not found in other performances I have. This is ably abetted by the mastering of this recording. The recording has a relatively high dynamic range with fast transients, clarity and with the judicious use of spot microphones. The prominence of the drum throughout the recording, no doubt using spot microphone(s), significantly aids the character of the interpretation. It was the first movement that caught my immediate attention. The final three movements are well played without the same immediate knee jerk response I had to the first movement. The Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra is clearly an excellent orchestra and play extremely well throughout. I have not had the pleasure of hearing the Pittsburg orchestra in its own hall so can not express an opinion on how close the recording is to the real thing in a seat in the hall. I have only listened to the multi-channel version of the recording and this seems to add reasonable spaciousness to an excellent recording. The Strauss horn concerto is well played but I find the orchestra to be a little too recessed. I was spoilt by hearing Dennis Brain play this in my youth! I have listened to this recording many times now and still find it to be an excellent interpretation (although not quite as radical on each subsequent hearing), extremely well recorded. It is something that I can recommend."Report Abuse
Wow, what an exciting performance of the Eroica! September 27, 2018By Scott Freije (Los Angeles, CA)See All My Reviews"Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra prove they are the most dynamic conductor/orchestra in the country. After interesting performances of the 5th & 7th, everything comes together here to create one of the best played and recorded 3rds Ive ever heard. Compared to other favorite recordings of this piece (Bernstein/Wiener, Karajan/Berliner, Chailly/Leipzig, Dudamel and more), Honeck gives an insightful interpretation, full of power, grace and beauty. His interpretation is a mix of the drive and clarity of line Karajan brings combined with Bernsteins mastery, personal insight, and orchestra sonority. Honeck used the play in the Wiener Philharmoniker and brings plenty of Viennese musicianship to Pittsburgh. The strings are warm and velvety, punchy percussion, standout woodwinds, and above all Pittsburgh boasts the best brass section in the country, perhaps the whole world. These horns can rival Chicago and Vienna in their prime and stunningly recorded in top notch sound quality. This is my new favorite release from this team, a reference recording for this piece, and one of the very best classical recordings of 2018. Fans of Honeck/Pittsburgh will love it and for those who have yet to hear them, I cant think of a better introduction than this."Report Abuse