Manfred Honeck / Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Richard Strauss: Don Juan; Death and Transfiguration; Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks

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If any music seems ideally suited for the multichannel super audio format, the lavish orchestral tone poems of Richard Strauss must be at the top of the list. This hybrid SACD of Strauss' Don Juan, Death and Transfiguration, and Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks is a sonic feast for audiophiles, and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under Manfred Honeck delivers these orchestral masterpieces with high energy, vivid tone colors, and crisp details that are a sheer delight to experience. Honeck draws out the clearest sonorities and freshest timbres from his musicians, and the clear separation of parts makes the inner lines fully audible, despite Strauss' sometimes dense textures. While it is the conductor's responsibility to balance the orchestral sound and to ensure transparency so every note is heard, a great deal of credit must go to the engineers who obviously took the greatest care in placing the microphones, controlling volume levels, and mixing the sound for optimal clarity. The only downside to such a meticulous recording is that the physical exertions or humming of the conductor are easily heard, so listeners will have to get past them to enjoy the orchestra's terrific playing.

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