Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Dvorak - Rusalka Fantasy (2016)

Tchaikovsky, Dvorak

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Manfred Honeck

 Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky said of his Symphony No. 6: “But I absolutely consider it to be the best, and in particular, the most sincere of all my creations. I love it as I have never loved any of my other musical offspring.” The comprehensive notes by Manfred Honeck offer an in-depth look into the composer’s soul, and a fascinating look at the mind and decisions of a great conductor. To quote from Honeck’s music notes: “it is undoubtedly clear that Tchaikovsky truly put all of his soul into this unique masterpiece. I dare to say that in a way, Tchaikovsky experienced his own death through the music. One can be sure that only somebody who is deeply empathetic about both life and death can be capable of creating such an atmosphere and I am deeply grateful for the great musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra who went with me on this journey, requiring the utmost technical perfection to reach such a level of expression.” FR-720 also includes the world premiere of the “Rusalka Fantasy,” an orchestral suite drawn from Dvo?ák’s  opera by Mr. Honeck and arranger Tomás Ille.

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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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Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Dvorak - Rusalka Fantasy (2016)

Tchaikovsky, Dvorak

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

    Classical Music Sentinel

"I believe most of you would agree that not many composers quite match Tchaikovsky when it comes to conjuring up a sense of "drama" in music. And especially the way he applies some of the most beautiful melodies to emotionally passionate moments is quite gripping. Include his preponderance for extensive tension escalation and perfectly timed release, and you have the perfect recipe for electrifying music. He certainly knew how to create vivid images in music. Add to this the nervous energy of a live concert as we have here, and you're in for an emotional roller coaster. For example, there's an enormous amount of passionate energy released at the 13:00 mark of the first movement that is exceptionally well captured by Manfred Honeck and exceptionally well projected by the Pittsburgh players, and then followed by an overwhelming sense of calm at the end with a long, sustained chord perfectly pitched by the brass section. And even more cheers and bravos to the brass players for their tour de force acrobatics during the Allegro Molto Vivace third movement, a moment in music that feels like a march onward to victory on an epic scale. Best of all is the profound sense of pathos radiating from every strand of the final Adagio Lamentoso movement in which the Pittsburgh string section gets to shine. In the final two minutes alone, with its pseudo failing heartbeat rhythmic pulse, the lower strings are darkness shrouded in darkness, the epitome of intense gravity, and this account leaves a profound impression. If you're looking for an up-to-date, live, full-spectrum recording, you can't do much better than this."

Jean-Yves Duperron of Classical Music Sentinel[read full review]

    The Arts Desk

Any new album from this particular team is usually an event, and this one keeps up the trend.…But the excellence of the playing and sound engineering never draws undue attention to itself; what's compelling is the intelligence and musicality of the performance. …It works beautifully… An outstanding album, and not just for audiophiles.”

Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk[read full review]

    Graham Williams for HRAudio.net

“It is fair to say that Manfred Honeck's series of live recordings with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra of music by Richard Strauss, Dvorak, Bruckner and Beethoven on the Reference Recordings Fresh! label have been revelatory, even to those listeners who are very familiar with the works featured on them that are, by and large, cornerstones of the orchestral repertoire. The main work on this latest release is Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 in B minor and in an engrossing twelve page essay in the liner notes Honeck first discusses the genesis of the Symphony and speculates on its probable secret programme. These notes are almost worth the price of the album. From the first bars it is clear that this is to be a pretty special account of the Symphony. It is no surprise then to find that the 'Rusalka Fantasy' is almost like a newly minted Dvorak orchestral masterpiece. The PSO's scintillating performance of the suite makes it a most welcome and imaginative addition to the catalogue. The skilled recording team (Soundmirror, Boston) have ensured that these recordings, made and post produced in DSD 256, are in every way worthy of the performances enshrined on this album. There is no doubt that the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra are fortunate to have such a perceptive Music Director with a meticulous care for detail and the ability to deliver performances of such consistently high quality. But Manfred Honeck is equally blessed with a supremely accomplished virtuoso orchestra who can fulfil his wishes to the letter. Long may this partnership continue and, hopefully, yield many more such involving, and often spine-tingling, recordings as these."

Graham Williams for HRAudio.net[read full review]

Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Dvorak - Rusalka Fantasy (2016)

Tchaikovsky, Dvorak

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Mastering Engineer: Mark Donahue
Producer: Dirk Sobotka
Recording Engineer: Mark Donahue, John Newton (Sondmirror, Boston)
Recording location: Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts, Pittsburgh, PA. USA
Recording Software: Merging
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD256

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FR720SACD: Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Dvorak - Rusalka Fantasy
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Tracks.
1.
Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 - Adagio - Allegro non troppo
Tchaikovsky
00:18:49   Select quality & channels above
2.
Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 - Allegro con grazia
Tchaikovsky
00:08:00   Select quality & channels above
3.
Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 - Allegro molto vivace
Tchaikovsky
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4.
Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 - Finale: Adagio lamentoso _ Andante
Tchaikovsky
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5.
Rusalka Fantasy
Dvorak
00:20:11   Select quality & channels above

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