One of the most grown-up review sites around

2021
55,946 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 







International mailing


 
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

 

paid for
advertisements


3 for 2 Offer



All Forgotten Records Reviews


TROUBADISC

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


FOGHORN Classics


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets
All Foghorn Reviews


Puertas de Madrid
www.emecdiscos.com
All EMEC reviews


www.emecdiscos.com
All EMEC reviews


All Reference Recordings


Eugène Ysaÿe: Violin Discoveries
review
All Divine Art Reviews


Debussy Complete Preludes

 


 


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

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
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

 

Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Loughton
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom
Ph. 020 8418 0616
jonathan_woolf@yahoo.co.uk


 

REVIEW
RECORDING OF THE MONTH
Plain text for smartphones & printers


Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews


All Chandos reviews


All Hyperion reviews


All Foghorn reviews


All Troubadisc reviews


Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews


All Eloquence reviews


All Lyrita Reviews

 


Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

November


Donizetti - Le Convenienze ed Inconvenienze Teatrali


Chamber Symphonies 2 & 4


French Cello Concertos

 

October


Shostakovich

 


Support us financially by purchasing this from
Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896)
Symphony No. 4 in E flat major Romantic (version 1878/80 edited Nowak) [66.07]
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra/Manfred Honeck
rec. live, 6-8 December 2013, Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts, Pittsburgh.
REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-713 SACD [66.07]

Having reviewed the mightily impressive first two releases in the ‘Pittsburgh Live!’ series I wondered how this third and latest disc would measure up. Enjoying every second of this captivating performance I can report that the series continues to provide an elevated standard of performance and sound.

More than any other Bruckner symphony his Symphony No. 4 known as the Romantic and written in 1874 has been given wholesale revisions at various times. Here Manfred Honeck uses the version of 1878/1880, edited by Leopold Nowak. It's the one given at the premiŤre in 1881 under Hans Richter a version described by composer and musicologist Robert Simpson as “clean and lean”.

In the booklet notes Honeck talks about the programmatic content of the Fourth Symphony as Bruckner described it to his friend Viktor Christ. He explains how he believes the Fourth Symphony “is almost a tone-poem in the robe of a symphony”. Rather than strictly follow the score Honeck believes that “Bruckner’s musical phrases and thoughts require their own flexible tempi and expressions, particularly when referring to nature and folklore.” This all amounts to Honeck making a number of slight alterations mainly concerned with emphasis and balance. There's also the occasional addition all done in a manner that other conductors surely do but probably don’t write about.

In the opening movement the sheer force of the symphonic power generated by the Pittsburgh players is compelling and nearly pins the listener to back of his seat. It's not all about raw energy, though. We also encounter outstanding subtlety in the contrasting episodes of nature music. Impressive too is how the orchestra builds and sustains its crescendos. The slow movement harbours a satisfying calmness bordering on serenity to which Honeck seamlessly develops a tension-laden undertow. The great climax is accomplished magnificently without it feeling forced. Tuned to perfection the Pittsburgh brass section in the Scherzo rings out to stunning effect; I doubt the heavily engaged trumpets and horns have ever sounded better. Remarkable playing too in the Finale with Honeck adding a sense of mystery and foreboding. Sure-footed through Bruckner’s changes of mood the work culminates in a quite magnificent climax of a grandeur that sends a shiver down the spine. Impeccably paced and carefully shaped Honeck creates a magnificently inspiring Bruckner interpretation. Decisive and highly spirited the textures feel ideally layered with the Pittsburgh players also displaying a natural feeling for orchestral colour.

In the Fourth Symphony my benchmark recording is the 1998 live Berlin account from GŁnter Wand with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Using the original 1878/1880 version published by Robert Haas (1936), Wand’s interpretation is both visionary and magnetic. All the components are handled with the utmost care and control based on decades of experience. It’s good to have another excellent recording available and this live performance from Honeck with his Pittsburgh players can confidently stand close to Wand.

Recorded by Soundmirror at live concerts at Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh this hybrid SACD played on my standard player has moderately warm, clear sound that reveals ample detail and achieves a satisfactory balance. There is little extraneous audience noise to worry about and the applause at the conclusion has been taken out. Manfred Honeck has written a wonderfully informative essay which is well worth reading. With the Pittsburgh Orchestra giving such a penetrating reading under the inspirational Honeck, Bruckner’s music is remarkably well served.
 
Michael Cookson