Brian Wigman reviews the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Manfred Honeck’s Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 5 & 7 for ClassicalNet:
“On a completely subjective note, few releases on the market excite me as much as those from Reference Recordings. Long-known for superlative sound quality and intelligent repertoire selection, they have recently focused on getting the very best from American orchestras. Pittsburgh and Kansas City are similar musically to their baseball counterparts in that they are respected but often considered “small market” clubs. Well, the Pirates and Royals have been winning like crazy the last few years, and the same goes for their orchestras. Manfred Honeck has the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra attacking warhorses and allowing us to hear music anew.… The now-famous Pittsburgh horns are radiant and are captured in a way that allows them to ring out details in a way I had not previously heard.… On my second listen – I spent well over two hours consecutively with this disc – I was amazed by Honeck’s ability to highlight the “Fate” motif in a way that sounded fresh and not overdone.… The Seventh has less places where overt mannerisms can occur, but it may be the harder piece to conduct well. Given the orchestra’s exceptional brass players and successes in larger works, you would think that this would be terrific. It is one of the finest versions of the Symphony since Szell and Blomstedt. The Pittsburgh horns are remarkable, the rest of the ensemble totally committed and full of vigor. If Toscanini is the benchmark after 70-plus years, the same qualities that made his Seventh so astounding – near manic attention to rhythmic detail and supreme orchestral execution – are in evidence here.… There’s countless moments where the music takes on new meaning because of the work that Honeck puts in to make it sound fresh. Aided by simply stunning sound, this album is a must-have for anyone who cares about this music.” —Brian Wigman, ClassicalNet
Read the full review on Classical.net
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