Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Rave reviews for Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's tour to BBC Proms

15 September 2011

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and its Music Director Manfred Honeck made their presence felt in London in two highly-anticipated concerts at the BBC Proms. French pianist Hélène Grimaud joined the orchestra for a performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4. The highlight of the concert saw a performance of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5, giving the Pittsburgh Symphony musicians the perfect opportunity to show-off their impressive brass section and rich string sound, with the Evening Standard commenting: "[Honeck] showed [the orchestra’s] range: from the strings, exquisitely mysterious pianissimos; bassoons with a warm burr; horns sounding so delicately that they seemed to come from another dimension.”

The Independent's assessment was similar: "The Tchaikovsky allowed this fine orchestra to show what feats its brass could achieve, with a principal horn whose pianissimo control is simply miraculous."

The following night, they opened their performance with Wagner's Prelude to Lohengrin, after which Anne-Sophie Mutter joined a chamber-sized orchestra for a haunting performance of Rihm's Gesungene Zeit (written for the soloist in 1991).  This was followed by a performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 5, resulting in particular praise again for the horn section of the orchestra. “The horn section – led very much from the front by their excellent principal William Caballero – is one of the best in the business” wrote The Guardian.

The Telegraph commented: "George Vosburgh, the principal trumpeter of the Pittsburgh Symphony - his rendition of the fierce funereal fanfare that launches Mahler’s Fifth symphony had the kind of blazing authority that made one’s jaw drop, and his burnished tone was so powerful is seemed to press against the walls. His three trumpeter colleagues were hardly less biting…”

The Times featured similar praise: When it was time for Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, the orchestra — and Honeck — were on top form. These players can certainly do dynamic control and the subtlest of ensemble, as they confirmed in the symphony’s lightly suspended love-song of an adagietto. But they can also let rip when Honeck lets them.”

BBC Proms website