Critic Michael Cookson names the Pittsburgh Symphony and Manfred Honeck Bruckner album a MusicWeb International Recording of the Month!
“Having reviewed the mightily impressive first two releases in the ‘Pittsburgh Live!’ series I wondered how this third and latest disc would measure up. Enjoying every second of this captivating performance I can report that the series continues to provide an elevated standard of performance and sound. … In the opening movement the sheer force of the symphonic power generated by the Pittsburgh players is compelling and nearly pins the listener to back of his seat. It’s not all about raw energy, though. We also encounter outstanding subtlety in the contrasting episodes of nature music. Impressive too is how the orchestra builds and sustains its crescendos. The slow movement harbours a satisfying calmness bordering on serenity to which Honeck seamlessly develops a tension-laden undertow. The great climax is accomplished magnificently without it feeling forced. Tuned to perfection the Pittsburgh brass section in the Scherzo rings out to stunning effect; I doubt the heavily engaged trumpets and horns have ever sounded better. Remarkable playing too in the Finale with Honeck adding a sense of mystery and foreboding. Sure-footed through Bruckner’s changes of mood the work culminates in a quite magnificent climax of a grandeur that sends a shiver down the spine. Impeccably paced and carefully shaped Honeck creates a magnificently inspiring Bruckner interpretation. Decisive and highly spirited the textures feel ideally layered with the Pittsburgh players also displaying a natural feeling for orchestral colour. … With the Pittsburgh Orchestra giving such a penetrating reading under the inspirational Honeck, Bruckner’s music is remarkably well served.” —Michael Cookson, MusicWeb International