Thursday, December 18, 2014

Baltimore City Paper Names Dvořák & Janáček The Top 2014 Release!

Baltimore City Paper has released their Top 10 Classical Albums of 2014 list, and The Pittsburgh Symphony's Dvořák & Janáček SACD is #1!

Their List:

  1. Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, “Dvorák: Symphony No. 8 – Janácek: Jenufa Suite” (Reference Recordings)
  2. Seattle Symphony Orchestra, “John Luther Adams: Become Ocean” (Cantaloupe)
  3. St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, “City Noir” (Nonesuch)
  4. Anonymous 4, “David Lang: love fail” (Cantaloupe)
  5. Boston Modern Orchestra Project, “Elena Ruehr: O’Keeffe Images” (BMOP/sound)
  6. Rushes Ensemble, “Michael Gordon: Rushes” (Cantaloupe)
  7. New York Philharmonic, “Nielsen: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4” (Dacapo)
  8. Amit Peled and Noreen Polera, “Tsintsadze: 5 Pieces on Folk Themes – Popper: Tarantella, Op. 33” (Centaur Records)
  9. SOLI Chamber Ensemble, “Música, por un tiempo” (Albany Records)
  10. DeltaCappella, “Michael Ching: A Midsummer Night’s Dream—opera a capella” (Albany Records)

See the full feature and list explanation at

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

RR Artist Manfred Honeck to Conduct at Vatican

PITTSBURGH—For the first time, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Music Director Manfred Honeck has been invited by Pope Francis to conduct music during the Papal Christmas Eve Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica on December 24.

Honeck will lead the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Et Incarnatus Est from Mozart’s Mass in C minor, a piece that was specifically requested by Pope Francis and about which he said, “It lifts you to God.”

Tens of thousands are expected to participate in the mass at the Vatican with many more tuning in via television, radio and internet. The Mass will be broadcast live beginning at 3:30 p.m. EST on EWTN TV and radio, Vatican Radio and the Vatican Youtube channel, among others.

“What a sacred honor to be invited to be part of such a blessed event, especially by Pope Francis himself,” said Honeck. “Leading this glorious musical exploration of the Incarnation of Christ in St. Peter’s Basilica during Christmas Eve mass is an experience I will treasure forever.”

During his time in Rome, Honeck will have an audience with the Pope.

Manfred Honeck has served as music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra since the 2008-2009 season. After two extensions, his contract now runs until the end of the 2019-2020 season. To great acclaim, Honeck and his orchestra perform regularly for European audiences. Since 2010, annual tour performances have led them to numerous European music capitals and major music festivals, including Rheingau Musik Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Beethovenfest Bonn, Musikfest Berlin, Grafenegg Festival, Lucerne Festival and the BBC Proms. Several recordings, amongst them Mahler's Symphony No. 4, which won a 2012 International Classical Music Award, are available on Japanese label Exton. Honeck's successful work with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is now captured by Reference Recordings. The first SACD — of Strauss tone poems — was released in fall 2013 and received rave reviews. The second recording, of Dvorak's Symphony No. 8 and the Symphonic Suite from Janacek's opera Jenufa, conceptualized by Honeck himself, followed in summer 2014 and was likewise enthusiastically received. Several additional recordings are completed and it is expected that two releases will be issued per year. Born in Austria, Honeck received his musical training at the Academy of Music in Vienna. Many years of experience as a member of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera Orchestra and at the helm of the Vienna Jeunesse Orchestra have given his conducting a distinctive stamp. He began his career as assistant to Claudio Abbado in Vienna. Subsequently, he was engaged by the Zurich Opera House, where he was bestowed the prestigious European Conductor’s Award in 1993. Other early stations of his career include Leipzig, where he was one of three main conductors of the MDR Symphony Orchestra and Oslo, where he assumed the post of music director at the Norwegian National Opera on short notice for a year and was engaged as principal guest conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra for several years. From 2000 to 2006, he was music director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm and, from 2008 to 2011, principal guest conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he has resumed for another three years at the beginning of the 2013-2014 season. As a guest conductor, Honeck has worked with leading international orchestras such as the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Staatskapelle Dresden, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Accademia di Santa Cecilia Rome and the Vienna Philharmonic. Orchestras he conducted in the United States include New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra. He also is a regular guest at the Verbier Festival. In February 2013, he had his successful debut with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the direct result of which was a CD recording together with Anne-Sophie Mutter (works of Dvorak). The current season sees returns to Bamberg, Stuttgart, Rome and New York as well as to the Vienna Symphony (a CD of works by the Strauss family was released in summer 2013) and Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He also will conduct Tonhalleorchester Zürich and Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, amongst others. Honeck has received honorary doctorates from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., and, most recently, from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He has been artistic director of the "International Concerts Wolfegg" in Germany for more than 15 years.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Holiday Sale!

It's Time for the Annual Reference Recordings Holiday Sale!

STARTING NOW! Until NOON on Monday, January 5, 2015 — Order 2 items or more and receive a 20% discount on EVERYTHING in our catalog (except already discounted sets)


Horns for the Holidays!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Fanfare Critics Want More Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Fanfare Magazine critics can't get enough of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Raymond Tuttle wasn't the only critic with a Pittsburgh Live! release on their year-end “Want List”:

“Under music director Manfred Honeck, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is increasingly recognized as an ensemble to reckon with. It’s our good fortune that an audiophile label, San Francisco’s Reference Recordings has, so far, released two SACDs from the PSO. (The other is a Richard Strauss program.) The audio production here isn’t the work of RR’s in-house talent but rather the top-notch Boston recording company Soundmirror, and the sonic results are impressively transparent. In addition to a propulsive and thoughtfully structured account of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8, there’s also an effective synthesis of music from Janáček’s Jenůfa, “conceptualized” by Honeck and actually written by the contemporary Czech composer Tomáš Ille.” —Andrew Quint

“For the second year in a row, my list includes Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony, a particular favorite of mine. This time the work is presented in a powerhouse performance by Manfred Honeck and his stellar Pittsburgh band captured in Reference’s usual state-of-the-art sound.” —Merlin Patterson

It’s a bit harder to make a similar impression with the canonical tone poems, in part because they have an even stronger discography than the operas—but Manfred Honeck’s ear-opening collection from Pittsburgh (Till, Don Juan, and Tod und Verklärung) reminds us that there is still plenty of musical nourishment in what might seem to be depleted fields. Engineering, too, is state of the art.” —Peter J. Rabinowitz

Buy BOTH Direct from RR!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Strauss Lands on Fanfare Want List

Fanfare Magazine critics are submitting their annual “Want Lists” and critic Raymond Tuttle puts our Pittsburgh Symphony Strauss release at the top:

“These Want Lists are difficult for me, because, Lord knows, I want everything… My philosophy is that basic repertoire will seldom make my Want List because, in this age of redundancy, priority should be given to that which is new or at least unfamiliar. Having written that, I start with an exception. Strauss’s orchestral works are being recorded with as much frequency as ever, but no modern conductor even approaches the standards set by Kempe, Szell, Karajan, Ormandy, and a few others in the recent past. No modern conductor, that is, except for Manfred Honeck, who blows away the dust bunnies and makes these three tone poems truly eventful once again. His Till Eulenspiegel is mirthful and wicked, his Tod und Verklärung full of dignity and drama, and his Don Juan dashing and ultimately tragic. Characterful, vibrant playing from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and lifelike engineering cap this disc’s stunning success.” —Raymond Tuttle, Fanfare

Read the full review & list at

Order Today!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

There's A Time Artists Nominated for Blues Music Awards

The 36th Annual Blues Music Awards nominations have been announced, and both Doug MacLeod and Jimi Bott have made the list!

The Blues Foundation is pleased to announce the nominations for its annual Blues Music Awards, which the international organization will present at the Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis, Tennessee, on Thursday, May 7, 2015. The Blues Music Awards are universally recognized as the highest accolade afforded blues music performers. The annual Blues Music Awards ceremony is the premier event for blues professionals, musicians, and fans from all over the world.

If you are a Blues Foundation Member (or want to be), you can vote for Doug and Jimi!

Doug MacLeod: Acoustic Artist of the Year Nominee
Jimi Bott: Instrumentalist (Drums) of the Year

Order There's A Time in the following formats:

2-LP Set! - NEW
HRx 176kHz/24bit download from

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Organ Polychrome and Miraculous Metamorphoses Named Best of 2014

Kansas City critic, Don Clark, released a “Bakers Dozen” of “Best Recordings of 2014” on Pictures on Silence, and featured two of our Kansas City-based recordings:

Organ Polychrome

“A hallmark of a great concert hall is a great organ. Not used every day, but when a work requires an organ it is nice to have one around. The Casavant here is a fine “symphonic” organ and blends well with the orchestra. As a solo it is a fine instrument, especially under the control of Jan Kraybill, who oversees it and two other wonderful organs in Kansas City. Great, idiomatic performances of many of the French masters, including Widor (thankfully not the overdone “Toccata”), Vierne, Gigout, Guilmant, Franck, Alain... et al. Lease breaking sonics to boot.”

Miraculous Metamorphoses

“Performances that can stand with the best of them and sonics that sound fabulous even on my computer speakers combine for another Reference Recordings/Kansas City Symphony “hit”. One also has to give the Kansas City Symphony, Reference Recordings and all involved great credit for daring to record major standard repertoire pieces that often have some very heady competition.”

Buy BOTH Today!