Beethoven - Symphony No. 5 and No. 7 (2015)

Beethoven

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Manfred Honeck

SAN FRANCISCO: Conductor Manfred Honeck writes in his fascinating and thorough music notes: “A recording of Beethoven is always a great occasion and event. The marrying of the music’s historic interpretation with the brilliance of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s playing and the fantastic technique of Soundmirror have made this recording, comprised of three live concerts from December 2014, possible. It has been a joy to look deeply into that which Beethoven has composed, while also discovering the sense and content of the music and thus the reason why it has been written. For me, this is always the most beautiful part of the creative process.”

This release is the fourth in the highly acclaimed Pittsburgh Live! series of multi-channel hybrid SACD releases on the FRESH! series from  Reference Recordings. Each, including the newest Bruckner 4 (FR-713SACD) has received dozens of critical accolades. Dvo?ák/Janá?ek (FR-710SACD), garnered a GRAMMY® nomination for Best Orchestral Performance. Since 1896, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has been known for its artistic excellence, a rich history of the world’s finest conductors and musicians, and a strong commitment to the Pittsburgh region and its citizens. Past music directors have included many of the greats, including Fritz Reiner (1938-1948), William Steinberg (1952-1976), Andre Previn (1976-1984), Lorin Maazel (1984-1996) and Mariss Jansons (1995-2004). This tradition of outstanding international music directors was furthered in fall 2008, when Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck became music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

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Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

For more than 115 years, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) has been an essential part of Pittsburgh’s cultural landscape. The PSO, known for its artistic excellence, is credited with a rich history of the world’s finest conductors and musicians, and a strong commitment to the Pittsburgh region and its citizens. This tradition was furthered in fall 2008, when Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck assumed the position of Music Director with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Heading the list of internationally recognized conductors to have led the PSO is Victor Herbert, Music Director between 1898 and 1904, who influenced the early development of the PSO. Preceding Herbert was Frederic Archer (1896-1899), the first Pittsburgh Orchestra Conductor. The Orchestra’s solidification as an American institution took place in the late 1930s under the direction of Maestro Otto Klemperer. Conductors prior to Klemperer were Emil Paur (1904-1910), Elias Breeskin (1926-1930) and Antonio Modarelli (1930-1937). From 1938 to 1948, under the dynamic directorship of Fritz Reiner, the Orchestra embarked on a new phase of its history, making its first international tour and its first commercial recording. The PSO’s standard of excellence was maintained and enhanced through the inspired leadership of William Steinberg during his quarter-century as Music Director between 1952 and 1976. André Previn (1976-1984) led the Orchestra to new heights through tours, recordings and television, including the PBS series, Previn and the Pittsburgh. Lorin Maazel began his relationship with the PSO in 1984 as Music Consultant but later served as a highly regarded Music Director from 1988-1996. As Music Director from 1997-2004, Mariss Jansons furthered the artistic growth of the orchestra, and upon his departure, the PSO created an innovative leadership model with Artistic Advisor Sir Andrew Davis, Principal Guest Conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier and Endowed Guest Conductor Chair Marek Janowski. These three conductors formed the primary artistic leadership for the Orchestra until January 2007, when the PSO selected Honeck to take the reins at the start of the 2008-2009 season. In February 2012, Honeck agreed to extend his contract with the PSO through the 2019-2020 season.

Manfred Honeck

Manfred Honeck has served as Music Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra since the 2008-2009 season. After two extensions his contract will run until the end of the 2019-2020 season. His successful work in Pittsburgh is captured on CD by the Japanese label Exton. So far, Mahler’s Symphonies Nos. 1, 3, 4 and 5, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 and Richard Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben have been released to critical acclaim. The recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 has won an ICMA 2012 Award. Manfred Honeck and his orchestra present themselves regularly to the European audience. Since 2010, annual tour performances have led them to numerous European music capitals and major music festivals, amongst them Rheingau Musik Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Beethovenfest Bonn, Musikfest Berlin, Grafenegg Festival, Lucerne Festival and the BBC Proms. The 2012 tour focused on a week-long residency at the Vienna Musikverein. In August and September 2013, concerts took place in Grafenegg, Berlin, Bucharest, Paris, Du?sseldorf, Frankfurt, Lucerne and Bonn. From 2007 to 2011, Manfred Honeck was Music Director of the Staatsoper Stuttgart where he conducted premieres including Berlioz’s Les Troyens, Mozart’s Idomeneo, Verdi’s Aida, Richard Strauss’s Rosenkavalier, Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites and Wagner’s Lohengrin and Parsifal as well as numerous symphonic concerts. His operatic guest appearances include Semperoper Dresden, Komische Oper Berlin, Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, Royal Opera of Copenhagen, the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg and the Salzburg Festival.

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Beethoven - Symphony No. 5 and No. 7 (2015)

Beethoven

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

    Audiostream / Steven Plaskin

"The Music Played Effortlessly Listening to the superb sounding Reference Recording Beethoven Symphony No. 5 and 7 performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra / Manfred Honeck conducting was the best playback I have heard of this DSD256 version. This recording was extraordinarily expressive and involving heard through the Syrah / Merlot system. Spatial soundstaging clues were easily heard with wonderful resolution of micro dynamic details. The sound was harmonically rich with exceptional bloom and dimensionality. " (The DSD 256 version of the album is only available from Native DSD)

Steven Plaskin of Audiostream[read full review]

    Stereophile Magazine

The latest album from Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven's Symphonies 5 and 7 on Reference Recordings are dashing performances. Via the Merging Technologies NADAC MC-8 (Multichannel-8) DAC, that continuous spatial envelopment spread the PSO widely across the front stage, their sound entirely incorporated into the hall's ambience. Brass sections were almost explosively exuberant in both symphonies, yet remained musically integrated with the rest of the performance, and the dynamic range was staggering. Listening sessions with these masterpieces through the NADAC at near-concert levels have been some of my most thrilling listening experiences.

Kal Rubinson[read full review]

    Stereo Times

Any way you figure it, the Fifth is demonstrably Beethoven’s most popular and ubiquitous composition. I cut my aesthetic teeth on this symphony. I can remember as a child standing in the living room of our house in New Jersey listening to an early vinyl disc, in ultra-low fidelity, on my father’s patchwork record player. All I can say is that Maestro Honeck’s temporal conception of this symphony, which is quite fast, is so spot on, it makes what remains of my hair stand on end. I was literally lost for words. Once I managed to speak at all, I could only say, This is the greatest Fifth I’ve ever heard. And the clarity and control! The members of the PSO must love working with this conductor. It is apparent that he demands a lot of his musicians, and that they give it to him with knobs on. It is rare, very rare, to hear a large ensemble of musicians play with such impeccable precision and passion. In the Seventh, as I always so, I concentrated on the Allegretto because it has long been my favorite movement of this symphony. And this Allegretto proffers riches for our delectation, emotionally, melodically, rhythmically. I’ve never heard a version quite like this. In it’s wake it leaves the sense of excitement and fulfillment that arise when aesthetic intelligence is combined with great heartedness. I hope I have said enough to encourage you to buy this disc. Like every Reference Recordings disc I’ve heard, the sound quality is superb, microphone placement impeccable.

Russell Lichter[read full review]

    Audiostream

As I listened to Reference Recording’s Beethoven: Symphonies 5 & 7 performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony with Manfred Honeck conducting, I realized just how impressive sounding the Platinum Starlight 7 was. This DSD 256 recording was sourced from a DXD master. Interesting enough, Reference Recordings felt that the higher bit DSD conversions sounded “more natural, spacious, and life-like than their DXD parent from which they were made.” The Platinum Starlight 7 was simply stellar in its ability to reproduce the air and bloom around the instruments. There was a purity and liquidity through this cable that reproduced the rich tonal colors of the orchestra. The jet-black background allowed low level information to emerge with great clarity. The dynamic qualities of this orchestral recording were found to be excellent and never seemed to sound hard or blurred with the Platinum Starlight 7. A fine musical experience.

Steven Plaskin[read full review]

    The Arts Desk

Award "Best Classical Albums of 2015" Beethoven liked large-scale performances and he’d presumably have approved of Manfred Honeck’s Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performances of Symphonies 5 and 7. This is sensational orchestral playing, beautifully recorded, and these readings have an irresistible sweep and grandeur. One of those rare recordings which should leave you speechless after listening, desperate to repeat the experience. It’s that good, and a reminder that classical music can still sound exciting and relevant.

Graham Rickson[read full review]

    HRAudio.net

Taking the fifth symphony as an example, one notes that interpretational drive, richly inspired by Beethoven’s inner conflicts, unrelenting fury and continuous struggle to conquer defeat, sweeps up the orchestra to the limits of what it can handle. For any orchestra of lesser quality this would have led to complete chaos. Here, the result is breathtaking.

Adrian Quanjer

Beethoven - Symphony No. 5 and No. 7 (2015)

Beethoven

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Digital Converters:Horus
Mastering Engineer:Mark Donahue (Soundmirror)
Note:

DXD and DSD DXD (352.8KHx 24 bit PCM) is the best, least destructive format for post processing digital recordings available today. Unless mixing and balancing are performed in analog prior to digitizing, post processing is a requirement of a multi-mic'ed recording session, particularly of large ensembles.

Interestingly, we found after listening to DSD files made from DXD edited masters that the DSD, particularly the higher bit rate examples, sounded more natural, spacious, and life-like than their DXD parent from which they were made. If these observations are validated by wider listener experiences, it then points out the effects of the different processes DAC’s use in processing PCM and DSD data streams. Since the vast majority of DAC’s today are Sigma-Delta modulator based, these are less effects from the filtering necessary for PCM conversion with a DSD input. Please take advantage of this opportunity to experience for the first time from a major large orchestra quality recording the full span of DSD and DXD bit and sample rates. - Tom Caulfield, Mastering Engineer for Native DSD.

Producer:Dirk Sobotka (SoundMirror)
Recording Engineer:Mark Donahue, John Newton (Soundmirror)
Recording location:Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Recording Software:Merging
Recording Type & Bit Rate:DXD

Quality & Channel Selection Digitized at DXD
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Quality

Channels

This album is available as ST+MCH download (Stereo + Multichannel)
For albums, lower DSD bit rates (128 and/or 64) are available at no surcharge. This does not apply for DXD selection.
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FR718SACD: Beethoven - Symphony No. 5 and No. 7
01:11:16   Select quality & channels above
Tracks
1.
Symphony No. 5 in C minor, op. 67 - Allegro con brio
Beethoven
00:07:11   Select quality & channels above
2.
Symphony No. 5 in C minor, op. 67 - Andante con moto
Beethoven
00:09:06   Select quality & channels above
3.
Symphony No. 5 in C minor, op. 67 - Allegro
Beethoven
00:04:56   Select quality & channels above
4.
Symphony No. 5 in C minor, op. 67 - Allegro
Beethoven
00:10:08   Select quality & channels above
5.
Symphony No. 7 in A major, op. 92 - Poco sostenuto - Vivace
Beethoven
00:13:54   Select quality & channels above
6.
Symphony No. 7 in A major, op. 92 - Allegretto
Beethoven
00:08:31   Select quality & channels above
7.
Symphony No. 7 in A major, op. 92 - Preso
Beethoven
00:08:58   Select quality & channels above
8.
Symphony No. 7 in A major, op. 92 - Allegro con brio
Beethoven
00:08:32   Select quality & channels above

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