STRAUSS - Don Juan, Death and Transfiguration, Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks (2013)

Strauss

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Manfred Honeck

There are few composers who have such an impressiveability to depict a story together with single existential moments in instrumental music as Richard Strauss in his Tondichtungen (“tone poems”). Despite the clear structure that the music follows, a closer interpretative look reveals many unanswered questions. For me, it was the in-depth discovery and exploration of these details that appealed to me, as the answers resulted in surprising nuances that helped to shape the overall sound of the pieces. One such example is the opening of Tod und Verklärung  (Death and Transfiguration) where it is obvious that the person on the deathbed breathes heavily, characterized by the second violins and violas in a syncopated rhythm. What does the following brief interjection of the flutes mean? The answer came to me while thinking about my own dark, shimmering farmhouse parlor where I lived as a child. There, we had only a sofa and a clock on the wall that interrupted the silence. The flutes remind me of the ticking clock hand. This is why it has to sound sober, unemotional, mechanistic and almost metallic. Another such example is the end of Don Juan  where the strings seem to tremble. It is here that one can hear the last convulsions of the hero’s dying body. This must sound nervous, dreadful and dramatic. For this reason, I took the liberty to alter the usual sound. I ask the strings to gradually transform the tone into an uncomfortable, convulsing, and shuddering ponticello  until the final pizzicato  marks the hero’s last heartbeat.
Another detail I would like to emphasize can be found in the trial scene of Till Eulenspiegel.  Before Till is sentenced to death, the D-clarinet has a note that, according to Strauss, must sound entstellt  (“distorted”). The problem with this note is that it is impossible to hear, because the whole orchestra enters with a fortissimo . That is why I have this “distorted” note played one octave higher than written. This way, it does not only sound higher, but tremendously entstellt . In my opinion, this must have been a mistake, because Strauss surely knew that the instrumentation he asked for makes the note inaudible.

Read more

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.

Read more

STRAUSS - Don Juan, Death and Transfiguration, Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks (2013)

Strauss

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

    Musicweb International

Recorded in 2012 by Soundmirror of Boston the satisfying sound certainly serves the music splendidly being warm and clear with an excellent balance. (...)

Michael Cookson[read full review]

    Culture Spot LA

These works have never suffered for lack of recordings. Thus, a new recording must offer something innovative, and Honeck and the PSO certainly accomplish that. (...)

Henry Schlinger[read full review]

    Classical Ear -

This is quite a recording. (...) What's more, Reference Recordings' spectacularly lustrous sound combines stunning range with genuine 'take you there' impact. In short, an exceptionally stimulating and hugely charismatic Strauss anthology. Do try and hear it for yourselves!

Andrew Achenbach

    The Arts Desk

Death and Transfiguration’s halting opening is beautifully done – the wind chords impeccably tuned and the stuttering timpani rhythms just loud enough to be heard. Even Honeck’s skills can’t hide the work’s longeurs – Till and Don Juan succeed brilliantly because they’re so concise. Strauss’s debt to Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet is clear in the faster music, but the rather protracted final section couldn’t have been composed by anyone else. Honeck’s players project with such chutzpah that any resistance is futile. A magnificent achievement.

Graham Rickson[read full review]

STRAUSS - Don Juan, Death and Transfiguration, Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks (2013)

Strauss

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Digital Converters: Horus Pyramix
Mastering Engineer: Mark Donahue - Sound Mirror
Microphones: Bruel & Kjaer
Producer: Dirk Sobotka - Sound Mirror
Recording Engineer: Ray Clover, John Newton
Recording location: Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts, Pittsburgh, PA
Recording Software: Pyramix
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD64

Quality & Channel Selection
Select Quality and Channels to calculate the price below More info

Quality

  • DXD
  • 64fs
  • 128fs
  • 256fs

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.
Album Download duration price
FR-707SACD: STRAUSS - Don Juan, Death and Transfiguration, Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks
00:53:22   Select quality & channels above
Tracks.
1.
Don Juan Op. 20
Strauss
00:18:30   N/A
2.
Death and Transfiguration Op.24
Strauss
00:20:17   N/A
3.
Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks Op.28
Strauss
00:14:35   N/A

User Reviews

Other albums from this label