Returning to the symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven in his Pittsburgh Live series on Reference Recordings, Manfred Honeck rigorously explores the Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, "Eroica," paired with Richard Strauss' Horn Concerto No. 1 in E flat major. Honeck's 2015 release of the Symphony No. 5 in C minor and the Symphony No. 7 in A major demonstrated his in-depth analyses of the scores and his careful consideration of evidence about performances in Beethoven's time, including documents and original sketches that revealed much about early Romantic practices. By observing the historical method and avoiding conventional approaches, Honeck has adjusted the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's sound and brought out details and sonorities that have often been buried in mainstream performances. Honeck also calls for brisk tempos, crisp articulation, and spry, dance-like rhythms, which alleviate some of this heavyweight symphony's pugnaciousness and brings a somewhat lighter touch to the "Eroica." Strauss' Horn Concerto No. 1, featuring a polished solo part by William Caballero, is suitable filler, matching the key and moods of the "Eroica" and sharing its robust energy, though by the time Strauss composed it, the influence of Beethoven had been filtered through Schumann and Brahms, so the work shows a conservative side in youthful reaction against Wagner. Reference Recordings' sound is as clean and focused as could be desired, and this hybrid SACD gives great presence to the players and leaves a vibrant impression.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Symphony No. 3, Op. 55 "Eroica"|
|Horn Concerto No. 1, Op. 11|