One of the most grown-up review sites around

52,670 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere

Special Offer
Complete Chopin
17 discs
Pre-order for £100


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

Works for Voice by György Kurtág


Best Seller

Cyril Scott piano music

Hahn Complete Songs

Piano Sonatas 6,7,8 Osborne

Symphony for solo piano


We are currently offering in excess of 52,619 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Gustav MAHLER (1869-1911)
Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor (1901-2)
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra/Manfred Honeck
live rec. 20-22 May 2011, Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh
EXTON OVCL-00460 [73:38]

Experience Classicsonline

I have a dozen versions of this symphony on my shelves. Not only is it one of the most extensively recorded of Mahler symphonies but it is also one of the most consistently successful. So how and why would I be able to recommend yet another recording? I certainly don’t need another and it would have to be something special to merit recommendation. That’s especially the case as this issue is undeniably expensive compared with bargain issues such as Frank Shipway’s stunning reading with the RPO on their Tring label or reissues of the celebrated versions by Abbado with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra or the accounts in the big bargain boxes offering the collected symphonies conducted by Tennstedt, Maazel or Levine. 

While their SACD sonics have generally been adjudged their strongest feature, the three previous issues in what is projected to be a complete series have met with a mixed reception regarding their artistic success. In them some hear a literalism or lack of poetry; others praise the “truthfulness” of Manfred Honeck’s interpretation. Most agree that the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra plays extraordinarily well, not least their Principal Trumpet George Vosburgh and Principal Horn William Caballero. Indeed those two soloists surpass themselves in this latest recording, even if their fellow string-players cannot emulate the sheen and glow of the greatest orchestras forming the competition.
The Pittsburgh has had some financial difficulties of late but has acquired stability with the appointment of Austrian conductor Honeck in 2008 and the extension of his contract through to 2020. Honeck was a violinist for the Vienna Philharmonic playing under Bernstein and Pittsburgh predecessor Maazel. He generally favours a warm, Romantic, traditional sound and while he has a keen ear for balancing sonorities he is unafraid to give the brass their head.
So, what of the specific merits or otherwise of this latest issue? I find it to be very fine but without anything especially striking to say. Direct comparisons with numerous competing versions leave me convinced that Honeck’s vision of this symphony is lacking somewhat in energy and attention to detail. Tennstedt’s phrasing, accenting and dynamics for example, are so much more varied and absorbing from bar to bar in the opening Trauermarsch. There is a lack of the necessary wildness and fierce concentration in both of the first two movements. Honeck’s trumpets do not shout, nor do the flutes scream “mit grösster Vehemenz” as they should and there is insufficient Schwung in his beat. This lack of passion is somewhat redeemed by the attack of Honeck’s Finale. Some have complained of the stridency of the brass here but I don’t mind their out-and-out assertiveness in a performance which sometimes borders on the good-mannered.
The Adagietto, too, palls in comparison with the very best by such as Bernstein, Maazel and Tennstedt. All three had celebrated Mahler-specialist orchestras at their disposal: the Vienna Philharmonic in the case of the first two and the London Philharmonic, specially trained in Mahler by Tennstedt. By comparison with those two orchestras there is some want of richness in the Pittsburgh string tone. Nobody can make this music breathe like Bernstein while Tennstedt, too, in both his live and studio recordings, evinces his genius for long-breathed phrasing. Honeck tends to pull the tempo about rather aimlessly and loses the pulse in an account which is amongst the longest but not the tautest. 

The Scherzo conforms to the established pattern of first-rate playing without quite capturing the last degree of nuance in the music. In this case, the delicate ironic balance evokes what Willem Mengelberg called “forced joyfulness”.
Yet all is beautifully played in first-rate sound. There is virtually no indication that this recording was made from live performances. I have to say that I listen to this disc on standard, rather than SACD equipment, although by all accounts this series has so far met with the approval of SACD enthusiasts. Ultimately, there are too many truly great recorded versions of this most popular of Mahler’s symphonies to justify my giving it a top billing, good as it is.  

Ralph Moore 

Masterwork Index: Mahler 5






















































































































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


      Composer surveys
      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

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


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

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



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

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
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
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
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.