New Pittsburgh Symphony Recording is “Stunning”

“Thanks to Strauss’ distinctive sound world, this was the first time in many years that any music had both disturbed and excited me to such a remarkable degree. Both Elektra and Der Rosenkavalier work marvellously in this symphonic suite form. Especially striking in its new guise is Elektra, a work which startles and unsettles with murder, obsession and thirst for revenge pushing harmony and tonality to the edge and sheer barbarity of sound to levels that are scarcely bearable. In the bittersweet world of Der Rosenkavalier, is the blend of swirling waltzes and boundless flow of melting melodies is ever-intoxicating. On an album where the highlights come thick and fast, the world class Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under Manfred Honeck is on magnificent form. Playing with astonishing virtuosity this opulent performance of Elektra, full and expressive, is brilliantly executed. Its climaxes are stunningly powerful, generating a tension which feels overwhelming. Conversely the Rosenkavalier waltzes have a poignant bittersweet quality that is entirely captivating.

Honeck has written absorbing and helpful booklet notes which match notable sections of both works to actual timings on the disc. Produced by the Soundmirror team of Boston for Reference Recordings, this hybrid SACD was recorded live in May 2016 at concerts in the impressive acoustic of the Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh. On my standard player, the reasonably close sound quality on this SACD is remarkable, as good as any recording in my collection. There is virtually no extraneous noise and the audience applause is absent.

Manfred Honeck and his Pittsburgh players combine for a stunning album which should be an essential purchase for Strauss devotees.” —Michael Cookson, MusicWeb International

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