They Said It: Critics on PSO Recordings

By Craig Knox

“Let’s be honest: there simply is no finer ensemble in the world today, even if it may sound controversial to say so. From top to bottom the Pittsburgh players reveal themselves as equal or superior to anyone out there; and when led by a charismatic conductor like Honeck, they have few if any peers.” These words are taken from a review of our recent CD (Beethoven Symphony Nos. 5 & 7 on Reference Recordings) in Classics Today. Each season, we produce several commercial recordings from our live performances, which are then distributed far and wide for music lovers to enjoy. The musicians of the PSO and the people of Pittsburgh take pride in claiming our orchestra is truly world-class, and it is gratifying to read the emphatic consensus of critical acclaim. “The Pittsburgh Symphony is a spectacular orchestra. Under Honeck, they have risen from one of the best orchestras in America to, frankly, one of the best in the world.” (Music Web International) In the cluttered mess that is the world of classical recordings today, Honeck and Pittsburgh stand virtually alone as a partnership truly worthy of your time and attention.” (Classics Today)

Our current partnership with the Reference Recordings label began with the Strauss tone poems, making an immediate splash. “Let’s be very clear here: this is what Strauss should sound like. Manfred Honeck has really made the orchestra his own, and they are clearly one of the very best orchestras in the world right now. Superlative, and a great start to an exciting new partnership.” (Classical Net); “This is one of the outstanding Strauss CDs of the year. Editor’s Choice” (Gramophone). Our recording of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8, called “an event to cherish” by Gramophone, was nominated for a Grammy Award. Described as “a completely convincing reading from first note to last” by Classical Net, our Bruckner Symphony No. 4 CD resulted in a second Grammy nomination in as many years. The Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 disc produced a similar response from HR Audio Net, which called it “a performance that should be at or near the top of any short list for this much recorded work.”

There is probably no more recorded work in history than Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, making the ecstatic reviews it has received all the more compelling. Gramophone selected it as an Editor’s Choice. A reviewer on Music Web International opined, Honeck brings the same level of spine-tingling engagement to the slow movement as his fellow countryman Karajan and his Berlin players…Outstandingly performed and recorded, this special release can sit comfortably alongside the finest recordings in the catalogue”, while another summed it up with “The Pittsburgh/Honeck Beethoven album reaches the shortlist of this century’s great Beethoven symphony recordings…You don’t often find yourself learning new things, and hearing new angles, in music as well-worn as Beethoven’s Fifth. That is what makes this such a special experience.”

Lavish praise continued with the following adulation: “This disc should be prescribed as an anti-depressant, showing doubters exactly why classical music can still entertain and overwhelm” (The Arts Desk); Releases of this quality offer more than just an enjoyable listening experience. They are events of profound beauty and musical significance” (Classics Today); “This performance is nothing short of revelatory” (Stereo Times)

We leave you with this final statement from HR Audio Net: Long may this partnership continue and, hopefully, yield many more such involving, and often spine-tingling, recordings as these.”