Saturday, November 14, 2015

BEETHOVEN Symphonies Nos. 5 & 7

Collated from three live concerts recorded and mastered in December 2014 by Soundmirror, the the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under the watchful baton of Manfred Honeck present the 5th and 7th Symphonies. The fourth in the highly acclaimed Pittsburgh Live! series of multi-channel hybrid SACD releases on the FRESH! series from Reference Recordings, this release is proof there is always discovery in the well traveled ground of Beethoven's symphonies when played with conviction and passion.
Release date: 30th Oct 2015

Even though the program is a standard pairing of famous symphonies by Ludwig van Beethoven, and the live performances are by a modern orchestra, this intriguing hybrid SACD from Reference Recordings is a real adventure. The excitement lies in Manfred Honeck's clear-headed and musically sound interpretations and the astonishing performances by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, which are not based on conventional practices but on careful study of the scores and original sketches, documentation from Beethoven's time, and what has been concealed under layers of later traditions that were never intended. 

Honeck takes into account the various schools of thought that have given us a romanticized Beethoven, an objective Beethoven, and a historically informed Beethoven. But by regarding these conventions as secondary to the internal evidence of the Symphony No. 5 in C minor and the Symphony No. 7 in A major, and by adapting his orchestra to the norms of the early 19th century, Honeck exposes many exciting details that are often lost through overly homogenized orchestral blending, unimaginative use of dynamics, and excessively slow, reverent tempos. As a result, these performances are utterly transparent, the pacing is extremely brisk and lively, and the interpretations are as fresh as advertised on the cover. The brilliant reproduction is also a major contribution to this album's success, and it brings great clarity to these startling and revelatory recordings.

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