TheaterByte‘s Lawrence Devoe puts Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Beethoven Symphony No. 9 recording at the top of his list:
“A thrilling performance of Beethoven’s crowning symphonic achievement by Manfred Honeck and his Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra that in terms of sound and musical execution goes to the top of my list of recordings of this venerable work.
Maestro Manfred Honeck is in his twelfth season as music director of one of America’s top-tier musical organizations, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra now celebrating its 125th year. It is clear from this new recording of Ludwig van Beethoven’s towering Symphony No. 9, also called the “Choral” symphony, that the working relationship between conductor and orchestra has become a fruitful one as exemplified by this recording, the eleventh in Reference Recordings “Pittsburgh Live!” series on its FRESH! Imprint. In addition to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, this hybrid SACD disc features an accomplished quartet of vocal soloists—soprano Christina Landshamer, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano, tenor Werner Güra, and bass Shenyang—and the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh led by Matthew Mehaffey. The Mendelssohn Choir has a long performing history with this orchestra and the hand-in-glove coordination of the all-important choral section attests to a level of familiarity that few other orchestras can equal.…
For those who are passionate about what is arguably the greatest symphonic work ever composed, no one recording will ever be enough. While the quartet of singers may not be very familiar to some listeners, they are vocally well matched and fit in perfectly with a work that is truly an ensemble piece. Honeck and his colleagues understood this unifying concept that now informs what is one of the very best performances of the Ninth Symphony that I have ever heard. With sound that simply astounds and a musical pulse that continually thrills, this Beethoven Ninth joins the rarified air shared by a mere handful of recordings in my collection. Highest recommendation.”—Lawrence Devoe, TheaterByte