Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Symphony No. 4 in E-flat Major “Romantic”
Version of 1878/80
Edited by Prof. Dr. Leopold Nowak
Thrilling live performances from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, in brilliant audiophile sound!
Anton Bruckner is known as a deeply religious composer whose Catholic spirituality is prominent in his music, particularly his later symphonies. However, his Symphony No. 4 in E-flat major (“Romantic”) is one of his most secular, most influenced by nature and most popular works. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Manfred Honeck offer a bold new interpretation of this great music, breaking Bruckner out of the strictly interpreted box in which he is often placed. Here, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Honeck present the 1878/80 version, the same version that was used for the symphony’s premiere in 1881.
This release is the third in the highly acclaimed “Pittsburgh Live!” series of multi-channel hybrid SACD releases on the FRESH! Series from Reference Recordings. The previous release, “Dvorák/Janácek” (FR-710SACD), has received a Grammy® nomination along with numerous critical accolades.
For more than 119 years, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has been known for its artistic excellence, a rich history of the world’s finest conductors and musicians, and a strong commitment to the Pittsburgh region and its citizens. Past music directors have included many of the greats, including Fritz Reiner (1938-1948), William Steinberg (1952-1976), Andre Previn (1976-1984), Lorin Maazel (1984-1996) and Mariss Jansons (1995-2004). This tradition of outstanding international music directors was furthered in fall 2008, when Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck became music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony.
The orchestra has been at the forefront of championing new American works, and gave the first performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1 “Jeremiah” in 1944. The Pittsburgh Symphony has a long and illustrious history in the areas of recordings and radio concerts. As early as 1936, the Pittsburgh Symphony broadcast on the airwaves coast-to-coast and in the late 1970s it made the groundbreaking PBS series “Previn and the Pittsburgh.” The orchestra has received increased national attention since 1982 through network radio broadcasts on Public Radio International, produced by Classical WQED-FM 89.3, which are made possible by the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
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 more than 70 Grammy nominations and awards! Soundmirror has recorded for every major classical record label, now including Reference Recordings.
Hybrid SACD contains 5.1 and Stereo SACD and CD stereo
“Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s last project for Reference Recordings garnered a 2015 Grammy nomination for Best Orchestral Recording, so expectations were high for this one, too. Perhaps that’s unfair, as Bruckner makes very different demands on a conductor and orchestra than do Dvorák and Janácek. But this performance of Bruckner’s “Romantic” symphony is an unqualified success. … The sound is gloriously full and dimensional, both in stereo and surround. Not only is there layered depth and good imaging, the full orchestral sound has mass of its own, expanding to fill Pittsburgh’s Heinz Hall at the Symphony’s grandest moments.” —Andrew Quint, The Absolute Sound
“What Honeck does accomplish, perhaps better than any other conductor, is to move the music along and even lighten instrumental textures as in the relaxed and faster second subject of the first movement without detracting in any way from the solemnity of the opening horn call and the power of the massive brass climaxes. In other words, Honeck’s flexible tempos add to the power of the recurring horn call by increasing dynamic contrasts. … Honeck and his A-list Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra provide an excellent…choice and…interpretive approach.” —Arthur Lintgen, Fanfare
“There have been many fine recordings of this work, but Honeck and the superb Pitssburghians have given us a performance in phenomenal—underline that—surround sound that launches this rendition to the absolute top of the pile. … An essential recording!” —John Sunier, Australian Hi-Fi
“Blending modernism and tradition, opulent sound and chamber music like refinement, Manfred Honeck can fully count on the highly motivated Pittsburgh Symphony. The result is a superbly balanced and musically rich performance of Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony.” —Alain Steffen, Pizzicato
“In the cluttered mess that is the world of classical recordings today, Honeck and Pittsburgh stand virtually alone as a partnership truly worthy of your time and attention.” —David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday
“The performance itself has all the spontaneity and excitement of a live concert, with audience participation in no way intrusive. … I can confidently add Honeck’s thrilling performance to my list of favorites.” —Stephen Greenbank, MusicWeb International
“…this performance of Bruckner’s ‘Romantic’ symphony is an unqualified success. … The sound is gloriously full and dimensional, both in stereo and surround. Not only is there layered depth and good imaging, the full orchestral sound has mass of its own, expanding to fill Pittsburgh’s Heinz Hall at the symphony’s grandest moments.” —Andrew Quint, The Absolute Sound
“Honeck gives this live performance a rather expansive interpretation, emphasizing the long sweep of melody and using a fair amount of rubato in his tempos to add dramatic shading, particularly by drawing out cadences for their full emotional effect. The orchestra is prepared for all of Honeck’s gradations and nuances, and it is remarkably fluid in shifting from one mood to the next without seeming forced. Yet the most important aspect of this performance is the attention to tone colors, which Honeck clarifies and highlights with great delicacy, proving that in the right hands, Bruckner’s writing for orchestra is astonishing.” —Blair Sanderson, All Music
“The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and their Music Director Manfred Honeck have – in a very short space of time – become one of the most exciting teams in the modern classical world, with recordings that combine superlative musicianship with unparalleled recording quality.… we are offered a striking new interpretation of this imperishable masterpiece…” —Barry Forshaw, Classical CD Choice
“Manfred Honeck’s at it again. Changing dynamics, tampering with tempo markings, adjusting balances. But when the results feel so idiomatically right, only a chump would object. … This is a great performance, exactly the sort of disc that might convert Bruckner skeptics. The live recording glows, and the playing is sensational. More from this source please – the Honeck/Pittsburgh partnership is stealthily producing some of the greatest orchestral recordings in the catalogue.” —Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk
“With the Pittsburgh Orchestra giving such a penetrating reading under the inspirational Honeck, Bruckner’s music is remarkably well served.” —Michael Cookson, MusicWeb International
“…this distinctive, some might say revelatory, account of Bruckner’s 4th Symphony should not be missed.” —Graham Williams, SA-CD.net
“Captured in absolutely stunning sound (did I mention that?), this is a completely convincing reading from first note to last.” —Brian Wigman, Classical Net
“…this performance is nothing short of revelatory.” —Russell Lichter, Stereo Times
“… a fine addition to my Bruckner ‘must have’ pile.” —Anthony Kershaw, Audiophilia
“Listening to the new live recording from Reference Recordings of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 is as close to being there as you’ll ever experience. … On the very first play you’ll hear that the Pittsburgh Symphony under Honeck’s direction play this work as if they’ve played it a 1000 times. … The Pittsburgh Symphony has brought a new meaning to this work and I’m certain that Bruckner would approve!” —Thomas Kiefner
“I can honestly say that Honeck and the superb Pittsburghians have given us a performance in phenomenal—underline that—surround sound that launches this rendition to the absolute top of the pile. The extraordinary caressing of phrases, perfection in the finely-graded chordal building blocks so fundamental to any genuine presentation of this music, and the fearlessness that the conductor displays in his willingness to contradict accepted tradition while still manifesting a healthy respect for it, make this experience one that will not easily be matched any time soon. … An essential recording!” —Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition