What Comes Before Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’? – The New York Times

Manfred Honeck is one of today’s leading Beethoven conductors. As music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, he has created notably exciting recordings of the ThirdFifth and Seventh Symphonies. Now he and the orchestra, founded 125 years ago this month, are releasing their interpretation of the mighty Ninth.

What makes Honeck’s approach so stimulating in this most standard of repertoire is the sense that he has rethought each bar of the music. He took David Allen through the turbulent opening minutes of the Ninth Symphony’s finale — before the baritone exclaims “O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!” (“Oh friends, not these sounds!”) and announces the famous choral “Ode to Joy.” These are edited excerpts from the conversation, with audio excerpts from the new album on Reference Recordings.