Forbes Calls This One of 2017's 10 Best

Jens F. Laurson has produced his annual list of 10 Best Classical Recordings for Forbes Magazine, and it includes Pittsburgh Symphony's newest recording, which is also nominated for a Grammy. It is also the only North American Orchestra he includes on his 10-best list.

"Manfred Honeck buys into every external program that may (or does) underlie Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony – and where there isn’t one, he suggests one himself. “Do the oboe, clarinet, and flute in the Largo depict three friends [Shostakovich] lost in the camps?” He interprets – he even anthropomorphizes the music. It works! The music comes alive in uncanny ways. I’m wary of interpreting too much into composers and their works, especially Shostakovich. DSCH invites speculation which can easily overshoot the target. I, for one, am not convinced that every banality or triteness in Shostakovich (or even Mahler, whom Shostakovich in his composition and Honeck in his interpretation both draw on) is necessarily ironic or sarcastic or every triumphalism a “skeletal triumph”. (The alleged Toscaniniism about the Eroica Symphony comes to mind: “Issa not Napoleon, issa not ‘Itler. Issa Allegro con brio!”) But in this case, Honeck’s profound empathizing with the music – equally obvious from his own, extensive liner notes – denotes a passionate, detail-happy, and deeply caring performance. Honeck lets the orchestra rip, cry, shriek – but he tends at least equally carefully, tenderly to the extensive piano and pianissimo passages. The sound of the orchestra, dark and burnished while perfectly capable of piercing anguish, and the superb recording quality (never dry, still detailed, warm but without hints of artificial beauty) make this a wholly absorbing listening experience. The Barber Adagio for Strings is an added, indulgently performed, tragic coda… altogether ravishing stuff."