We’ve got ourselves another winner in this ongoing Pittsburgh/Beethoven series. Warmly recommended.
Each month, our arts critics — music, book, theater, dance, and visual arts — fire off a few brief reviews.
Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony have ways of digging into the music and providing new perspectives on it such that their recordings are, by and large, can’t-miss events.
This is a disc that begs for a sequel (or a whole series).
François-Xavier Roth and his period ensemble Les Siècles serve up freshness of playing and conviction of interpretation; Manfred Honeck is a conductor who can draw compelling, electrifying accounts of the standard canon as if on cue; the verdict’s mixed on the music of Lithuanian-born composer Mikalojus Čiurlionis.
Prince of Players is based on a play that also yielded the movie Stage Beauty, and it’s one of the best new operas to come along in years.
Semyon Bychkov and the Czech Philharmonic do justice to a lot of Tchaikovsky’s orchestral music, while John Eliot Gardiner and the London Symphony play Robert Schumann’s famously-dense orchestrations with clarity. But Michael Stern’s account of The Planets completely lacks mystery.
A can’t-miss album of Bartók Ballets, Thierry Fischer continues to do right by the symphonies of Saint-Saëns, and a spirited recording of the “last great symphony in the German Romantic tradition.”
JoAnn Falletta’s recording of Schreker’s orchestral works is fantastic; Manfred Honeck and his Pittsburgh Symphony make Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony shocking again, and Baiba Skride proves a strong advocate for Miklós Rózsa’s Violin Concerto.
Matthias Goerne offers proof that he is the Wagner baritone of the day. And Thierry Fischer’s understanding of Mahler deserves our admiration.