MusicWeb International has named Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 and Schulhoff: Five Pieces their September Recording of the Month!
“The first thing to strike the listener is the width of the dynamic range; no compression here. Honeck in his notes makes much of Tchaikovsky’s markings from ppp to fff; particularly helpful is the combination of bar numbers (for those with scores) and timings (for the casual listener) marking where Honeck wishes to emphasise a particular point. Of course, there is no need to follow his guide but the overall impression is one of a meticulously prepared and thought-out performance which coheres into a masterful organic whole. Especially graceful and convincing is Honeck’s command of phrasing; nothing sounds forced or self-conscious but the psychodrama of Tchaikovsky’s writing is vividly realised. The listener might already feel emotionally drained at the end of the first movement, yet there is still so much more to come. … The Schulhoff dances are strange, exotic pieces, marked by a rhythmic adventurousness reminiscent of Holst and a perverse playfulness which to my ears is ironic and even parodic in mood… They might be designated as dances but little about them is joyful and they make fascinating pairing, being, like Tchaikovsky’s symphony, exercises in ambiguity… There is absolutely no evidence of this being a live performance beyond the crackling atmosphere of the occasion.”—Ralph Moore, MusicWeb International