SWR Tour Press Reviews

Stuttgarter Zeitung/ Backnanger Kreiszeitung.

On 25 July, the Spaniard will make his Bayreuth debut on the podium at the start of the Wagner Festival with “Parsifal”. Now he will fire up Mendelssohn’s sounds: This music has freshness, power and emotion. And emotion. […] Igor Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms (1930) is also very rhythmic, with a strong emphasis on the winds. The high strings are free here, and the great emotions pause with them. At the end, however, Pablo Heras-Casado lets them in through the back door: In the first two psalms, which are more about proclamation than internalisation, the SWR vocal ensemble declaims and intones flawlessly. The orchestra sets precise accents in the motoric forward stride.

The solo woodwind fugue before Psalm 39, a neo-classical descendant of the “Musikalischen Opfers”, is a filigree gem. In the third movement: ecstatic repetitions. And then: calm, serenity, even love. An “Alleluja” cannot sound more static than this – but it cannot sound more touching either.

Badische Zeitung.

About the Psalmensinfonie: The choir, rehearsed by Frank Markowitsch, begins equally and acoustically impressive with the words from Psalm 39. The transcendent final sounds of all three movements also seem almighty. Heras-Casado gives them all unconditional effective time.

Ludwigsburger Kreiszeitung.

Pablo Heras-Casado, the Spanish guest conductor of the concert, who will conduct Richard Wagner’s “Parsifal” at the Bayreuth Festival this summer, provided an emphatic interpretation with strong physical engagement and passionate temperament.

About the 2nd movement of the Psalmensinfonie: This movement, introduced by oboe and flutes, takes hold of all the orchestral parts and the choir, and is grandly performed by Heras-Casado, the instrumentalists and the overwhelmingly expressive SWR vocal ensemble.

Die Rheinpfalz

With a ravishing musical exclamation mark, the Südwestrundfunk-Sinfonieorchester – with the participation of the SWR-Vokalensemble and vocal soloists – brought its concert season to a close in Mannheim’s Rosengarten. […| Under Pablo Heras-Casado’s clear, very precise and gesturally eloquent direction, the SWR Symphony Orchestra and the vocal ensemble, disciplined by Frank Markowitsch, performed both Stravinsky’s and Mendelssohn’s works in an exciting, highly expressive manner with a refined sense of musical detail. The Spanish maestro, for his part, controlled the musical events in a very superior manner, switching gears and acting swiftly throughout, with eloquent gestures.

Ö1 Des Cis (radio)

Is there anything to add to the countless recordings of Schubert’s symphonies, with large or smaller orchestras, with modern or contemporary instruments? Whether Philippe Herreweghe’s 2017 recording with the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, Heinz Holliger’s 2018 interpretation with the Basel Chamber Orchestra (“without orchestral sauce”, as Deutschlandfunk noted at the time), or here in Germany Michi Gaigg’s 2021 recording with the L’Orfeo Baroque Orchestra (and many more could be named), which is at times rough and grim, the facets of Schubert’s symphonies seem endless.

With the recording of the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra and conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, there is indeed a new one, rarely heard so clearly: a fine momentum that can be felt almost throughout, not only in the waltzes and country dances, but also where wild accents and tense chords announce anything but a dance. The precise, mostly short, never overly harsh accents that Heras-Casado sets maintain a peculiar momentum, are never stomping or exalted and yet never sweet either. Last but not least, the precision of this orchestra with its fine “metrics” in all accentuations, accents or lyrical “legati” amazes once again.

SWR 2 Treffpunkt Klassik interview.