SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews
BRAHMS: Symphony No. 1 in C minor Op. 68; Haydn Variations – Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra/ Marek Janowski – PentaTone
Published on October 5, 2007
Yet another U.S. symphony unceremoniously dropped some years ago by its American record label, now recording for a European label and coming up with better recordings than before. The Pittsburgh’s new conductor is Manfred Honeck; he was preceded by Mariss Jansons, Lorin Maazel, Andre Previn and William Steinberg. The PentaTone series is, like the other recent SACD series from symphony orchestras, recorded live during performances. this one was made in March of this year in Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh.
The simply melody of the Haydn Variations – Chorale St. Antonii – is now thought not to have been composed by Haydn at all but by one of his pupils. The famous-with-audiophiles tympani at the start of the First Symphony lacks the percussive “thwack” of some versions, being more of a strong rumble. Changing phase had no effect. I understand this was a deliberate intention of Maestro Janowski. He has his forces stress Brahms’ lyrical aspects with an interpretation not as muscular and driven as many others, but rather laid back. However, all the various orchestral sections shine, and the very natural hall ambiance is well presented by the 5.0 channel surround. I know a music critic who collects every last recording of Brahms’ First; I’m sure he’ll like this one but I doubt if it will jump to the top of his preferred versions.
– John Sunier