Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5; Barber: Adagio for Strings – Reference Recordings HDCD
In his fascinating and scholarly music notes, Maestro Honeck gives us great insight into the history of both pieces, and describes how he conducts and interprets each. He reminds us that Joseph Stalin’s Soviet government was offended by Shostakovich’s previous works. Under threat of arrest or banishment to Siberia, Shostakovich devised a new, less-complex compositional style for the 5th Symphony, still full of irony and double meaning, to appease Stalin and appeal to the common people.
The Adagio of Samuel Barber is his most performed work, and one of the most popular of all 20th Century orchestral works. It is beloved for its beautiful simplicity and emotion. Manfred Honeck describes Barber’s 1967 a capella version for mixed choir using the “Agnus Dei” text, and tells us his own interpretation is inspired by this text. He says it is “for me, without a doubt, the key to finding a deeper sense of this piece. Perhaps it is for this reason that the Adagio has enchanted and moved audiences around the world since its very first incarnation and has continued to do so in all subsequent versions born since.”
This release is the seventh in the highly acclaimed Pittsburgh Live! series of multi-channel hybrid SACD releases on the FRESH! series from Reference Recordings. Each has received dozens of critical accolades. Dvořák/Janaček (FR-710SACD) and Bruckner 4 (FR-713SACD) have each received GRAMMY® nominations for Best Orchestral Performance.
This release and the entire Pittsburgh Live! series are recorded and mastered by the team at Soundmirror, whose outstanding orchestral, solo, opera and chamber recordings have received more than 90 Grammy nominations and awards. For over 40 years, Soundmirror has recorded for every major classical record label, including Reference Recordings.
On This Recording
Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47
Moderato-Allegro Non Troppo
Allegro non troppo
Adagio for Strings
“To call Shostakovich’s symphony a landmark of the twentieth century is trite yet nevertheless accurate, especially in the immediacy with which its fundamental humanity speaks to any listener. Perhaps more than anything else, this remarkable work shows the composer in full command of his considerable melodic gifts, something the performance by Honeck and the PSO brings into sharp relief.” —Textura
“Manfred Honeck seems intent on wringing every last drop of drama from the symphony in this live recording. He seizes upon the first movement’s stark juxtapositions. Rhythms in the jagged opening phrases are razor-sharp and urgently dispatched … then the pace eases as the mood becomes more lyrical. … On paper, following this with Barber’s Adagio for Strings might appear anticlimactic but on disc it’s convincing. Barber’s idiosyncratic nod to Tudor polyphony – Honeck writes that he transferred vocal-style phrasing from the composer’s choral version – serves as a elegiac yet soothing benediction.” —Andrew Farach-Colton, Gramophone Magazine