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Jens F. Laurson
Ionarts, January 2015

Best Recordings of 2014 – New Release (#5)

The fifth release of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra’s is also their first interesting new release, after two historic gems (Celibidache, Giulini) and twice Mahler with Fabio Luisi. In fact it’s more than interesting, it’s absolutely, positively delightful: Manfred Honeck performs an ostensibly light program of Strauss Polkas and Waltzes (mostly Johann, but also four by his brothers Eduard and Josef). The result is slightly more wistful, and sometimes more rustic than one might expect, and bird-whistles (as per the score) are liberally included. Manfred Honeck, forced to learn the dreadfully uncool zither when he was a teen, has a knack for the rhythms that allows him a never-facile ease that reminds of me Carlos Kleiber conducting Strauss. © 2015 Ionarts

Huntley Dent
Fanfare, January 2015

The 12 selections on this CD are mostly well known, and since devotees will already own a groaning shelf of Straussiana, the reason to buy one more album comes from Honeck’s ability to defy expectations. He makes gracefulness unpredictable. A good test case, should you wonder how well you’ll like Honeck’s approach, is his Roses from the South, which glides across the dance floor a bit tipsy but always keeping its poise. And if you think the Tritsch-Tratsch Polka has been milked dry, try this fizzy rendition, which is oompah-free. © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review

Rob Cowan
Gramophone, October 2014

…Manfred Honeck twirls us through a winning programme with every solo beautifully pointed, every transition perfectly judged, while his orchestra responds as if he’d been conducting them for generations.

I would count this as easily the finest Strauss family album… © 2014 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Rick Jones
Sinfini Music, September 2014

The Wiener Symphoniker compellingly evokes an era with this disc. © 2014 Sinfini Music Read complete review

Peter Joelson
Audiophile Audition, August 2014

The sound quality is excellent—the orchestra occupies a generous but not overpowering acoustic which allows the sound to expand…

Manfred Honeck’s new selection…deserves consideration with the best of these with its winning combination of careful preparation and sparkling spontaneity. © 2014 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

Classic FM, July 2014

On this recording with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Honeck brings new life to old favourites by the junior Johann, but also delves deeper into their formidable output to find a few lesser-known pieces which he injects with verve and real humour.

Yes, the oom-pah bombast is all there, but Honeck succeeds in bringing out the subtler and softer side of Strauss as well which makes the climaxes all the more thrilling. © 2014 Classic FM Read complete review

Michael Cookson
MusicWeb International, July 2014

[Honeck] clearly revels in the music of the Strauss family having firsthand experience of playing the viola in the Wiener Philharmoniker early in his career. The Wiener Symphoniker also knows this music so intimately that it could be said to run through its veins like lifeblood. It’s the palpable enthusiasm and professionalism of the players that prevents the music coming across as stale and over-familiar. Throughout they demonstrate a fresh and authentic Viennese lilt in the waltzes and an unerring charm. There’s also sparkling exuberance in the marches, galops and polkas.

This is a captivating release, highly desirable for lovers of music from the Strauss family. © 2014 MusicWeb International Read complete review

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