* RICHARD STRAUSS: Don Juan, Op. 20; Death and Transfiguration, Op. 24; Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28 – Pittsburgh Sym. Orch./ Manfred Honeck – Fresh!/ Reference Recordings multichannel FR-707SACD (Distr. by Naxos) *****:
It never ceases to amaze me that a recording can be so near the real concert hall experience. Here is an exceptional collection of three of Richard Strauss’ engaging tone poems from Reference Recordings.
With an inspired conductor, Manfred Honeck (from Austria), and a world class orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony, recorded live, these performances are bathed in the latest SACD multi-channel sound (courtesy of Sound/Mirror). They have to be heard to be believed.
Without taking up too much space with words which can’t really describe the experience, let me say this recording is the best I have ever heard of these compositions. With overall tonal accuracy, an astounding dynamic range and a feeling that the orchestra was electrically charged, this is simply an amazing encounter.
Conductors other than Honeck may take this or that musical phrase differently, emphasize a particular Straussian effect with greater or lesser result. The Pittsburgh’s music director Honeck seems to have the most sensible approach, i.e.: play it virtually straight.
Without overdoing this rave, I think any collector, lover of Richard Strauss’ music or sound buff would relish this recording. And the good news is that Reference Recordings has more already in the can for future release with Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony. Absolute recommendation!