Norman Lebrecht gives five stars to Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s recording of Brahms: Symphony No. 4 and MacMillan: Larghetto for Orchestra.
“The Larghetto, based on MacMillan’s choral setting of Psalm 51, moves from a Miserere starting point to something altogether more encouraging, an organic optimism that transcends present woes and looks to bright eternity. I would add it without hesitation to commemorative concerts for the COVID era. It’s the work of a fine composer writing at his very best.… [Honeck’s] approach to the symphony is decidedly less flashy than the norm, and all the more satisfying for it. Unlike noisier batons, Honeck allows the symphony to evolve from roots upwards, very much in the manner of Beethoven’s ninth symphony, in which Brahms was emotionally so embedded. The connections are unavoidable throughout this illuminating performance. … I find this performance restorative in every sense, with a touch of Carlos Kleiber at its turning points. The regenerating steel town of Pittsburgh has a symphony orchestra to match the best in America.”—Norman Lebrecht, Ludwig Van/Slipped Disc