Aureole etc.




Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android


Tudor 7188


Vaughan Williams Symphony 3 etc.


Lyrita New Recording


Lyrita Premiere Recordings

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

 

 

 


 
REVIEW



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 

cover image

alternatively
CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS

Gustav MAHLER (1860–1911) Symphony No.1 Titan (1888) [57:59]
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra/Manfred Honeck
rec. live, Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh 26-28 September 2008. Stereo. DDD/DSD.
EXTON EXCL-00026 [57:59]

Experience Classicsonline

Manfred Honeck is a musician from the heart of the Viennese tradition. He took to conducting after ten years in the viola section of the Vienna Philharmonic, so when he tells American orchestras how they should be playing Mahler they listen. That authentic Viennese approach, combined with one of America’s top flight orchestras promises the best of both worlds.

Both are certainly evident, but there are limitations here too, and I wonder if Honeck is trying too hard to impress his Viennese views onto the players. The central European performing traditions are most evident in the inside movements. Honeck writes in the liner-note that an important property of the second movement ländler is an emphasis on the second beat of the triple meter, which Mahler expected his players to know and therefore did not notate. Fortunately, he is not too pedantic about this; the second beats stand out in the basses at the opening, but in that and many of the following phrases, the agogic profile is smoothed out as the phrase tails off. The ländler character is also emphasised through a slower tempo, and some really woody clarinet solos, all of which contributes to a pastoral, although not necessarily rustic, atmosphere. In the slow movement, Honeck emphasises the dotted downbeat rhythms, almost to the extent of suggesting double dots. This is presumably another example of Viennese flavour, but I find it a little jarring.

The outer movements are presented with focus and clarity, valuable attributes, no doubt, but the clarity often seems to be at the expense of atmosphere and drive. SACD technology poses new challenges in the opening of the work, how to appear from nothing when every minute detail is perceptible. The SACD sound is excellent, but it is only stereo, there is no surround mix. The assertiveness of the woodwind solos – the cuckoos and the fanfares – makes for a strident transition into the main theme, although when it arrives it is a little lacklustre. Again, this is a case of clarity of sound and texture trumping dramatic or propulsive urges.

The finale could also do with more energy and more atmosphere, more adrenalin in the rondo theme and more hushed expectation in the interludes. But again it is all about detail here, and you’ve got to admire the sheer range of articulations, dynamics and note lengths. Honeck’s control of the orchestral balance combines with the superior audio to ensure that the strings are always audible over the winds.

The orchestral playing is good, although not uniformly so. The Pittsburgh Symphony has an impressive string sound, and the players have done well to incorporate Mahler’s and Honeck’s unusual articulations – glissandos, ricochets, spiccato – seamlessly into their collective style. The woodwind function better as soloists than as an ensemble, and there some co-ordination issues in the second movement. And the brass sound isn’t to my taste at all, it is very nasal and underpowered. That’s a great shame, because a punchy brass section is the one thing an American orchestra could usually be relied on to deliver in a Mahler recording.

These things come down to taste and it is interesting to speculate about whose tastes this recording is aimed to satisfy. For not only are American and Austrian parties involved, but there is also a strong Japanese contingent. The record label is Japanese, and they take pride in describing how the recording was mixed in Yokohama – there’s even a picture of the inside of the studio. Could it be that Honeck and his forces are thinking specifically of Japanese listeners when they focus obsessively on the tiny details, somehow losing the bigger vista along the way?

Gavin Dixon



Clarity of sound and texture trumps drama and propulsion… see Full Review
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools






Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.