Dvořák: Symphony No. 8 - Honeck
Reference Recordings FR-710SACD
Classical - Orchestral
Dvořák: Symphony No. 8
Janáček: Jenůfa (suite)
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
This release is the second in the "Pittsburgh Live!" series of multi-channel hybrid SACD releases on the FRESH! series from Reference Recordings.
For more than 116 years, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has been known for its artistic excellence. The PSO has a rich history of the world’s finest conductors and musicians. Past conductors include the legendary names of Reiner, Steinberg, Previn, Maazel, and other greats. This tradition was furthered in fall 2008, when celebrated Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck became Music Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
The PSO is critically acclaimed as one of the world’s greatest orchestras, and has completed more than 36 international tours, including 20 European tours, eight trips to the Far East, and two to South America. The PSO was the first American orchestra to perform at the Vatican in January 2004 for the late Pope John Paul II, as part of the Pontiff’s Silver Jubilee Celebration.
The PSO also has a long history in the areas of recordings and radio concerts. As early as 1936, the PSO broadcast coast-to-coast, receiving increased national attention in 1982 when it began network radio broadcasts on Public Radio International. The PRI series with the PSO can be heard on classical WQED-FM 89.3 in Pittsburgh. Many PSO recordings remain in print and available, and they have won critical acclaim and many awards.
This release and the entire "Pittsburgh Live!" Series are recorded and mastered by the team at Soundmirror, whose outstanding orchestral, solo, opera, and chamber recordings have received over 70 GRAMMY nominations and awards! Soundmirror has recorded for every major classical record label, now including Reference Recordings.
FRESH! is part of Reference Recordings’ mission to encourage our artists and give them a strong platform for promotion and sales nationally and internationally.
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Review by Graham Williams - June 30, 2014
This is an absolutely marvellous release both in terms of its thrilling performances and wonderful sound quality.
Manfred Honeck, as on his first disc for Reference Recordings of Strauss tone poems, Strauss: Don Juan, Till Eulenspiegel, Tod und Verklärung - Honeck has shown that he is not afraid to challenge conventional approaches to familiar works, and his account of Dvorak's sunny 8th Symphony that opens this disc once again evince a searching and perceptive mind at work. Thanks to his rapport with his top-class Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra he is able to communicate his ideas to the listener with absolute conviction.
In the fascinating notes accompanying this disc Manfred Honeck explains that, in his performance of this symphony, he has returned to Czech traditions both in style of playing and overall sonority. He does not hesitate to introduce some tasteful portamento where necessary, and his liberal use of rubato and tempo changes combined with attention to detail make one hear many passages in the symphony with fresh ears. It almost goes without saying that Honeck's strikingly individual interpretation will not suit all listeners, but I confess to being completely bowled over by it.
Maintaining the Czech theme of the disc, the Dvorak 8th Symphony is followed by an effective and well-constructed 23 minute 'Symphonic Suite' of music from Janáčeck's tragic opera 'Jenufa'– described as 'Conceptualised by Manfred Honeck, realized by Tomáš Ille'. The Suite is in a continuous single movement, but falls into a number of clearly identifiable sections – energetic dances alternating with contrasting lyrical passages and linked by repeated appearances of the soft xylophone passage that opens the opera. The Pittsburgh players really are on fire in this piece, delivering spine tingling orchestral playing in passages such as the dramatic final bars of Act 2 with its pounding timpani and brass fanfares.
The sound quality of this 5.0 channel (though disc and liner notes say 5.1) 64fs DSD recording made by the Soundmirror team is, as usual, first class in every possible way. The marvellous playing of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is captured with thrilling realism in sound that does full justice to both the warmth of the Pittsburgh strings and their phenomenal brass section (the brilliance and confidence of the trumpet playing that opens the fourth movement of the Dvorak symphony is typical of the latter).
I recommend without hesitation this spectacular SACD and look forward keenly to future releases in this 'Pittsburgh Live!' series.
Copyright © 2014 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net