The first time I heard Manfred Honeck conduct was some years ago … as I recall it was an insubstantial piece but straightaway I detected the hand of someone who knows has to mould and shape a phrase, keep rhythms firm, textures transparent … do all the thing that say, Abbado, knew how to do yet with an added quota of individuality. Then I heard his Pittsburgh Mahler 4 and was literally blown away – the impact of the ‘Gates of Heaven’ episode in the slow movement quite simply upstages any other available version.
Please do try and catch a whole range of Honeck’s recordings from next Monday (23rd November) on BBC Radio 3’s Essential Classics (from 9 am on weekdays), mostly from Pittsburgh. These include Bruckner 4, Death and Transfiguration (and music by Johann Strauss), Beethoven 7, the 34-minute first movement of Mahler 3 (no time for the whole work I’m afraid), the Jenufa Suite and the Benedictus from from Braunfels’ wonderful Grosse Messe. These are truly exceptional recordings and I’d love your to read reactions. How wonderful to be able to rave about a conductor who is alive and vigorously beating time rather than resting peaceably in the vaults!
Incidentally Honeck is conducting the LSO at the Barbican in London on 19th November – the New World, Ravel’s G major Concerto (with Helene Grimaud) and … the Jenufa Suite. I don’t think I can make it but if you can please report back.