Orchestral Award

Mahler

Mahler Symphony No. 3

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Bernard Haitink
BR Klassik 900149

Reviewed May 2017

Bernard Haitink’s first recording of Mahler's Third Symphony was half a century ago in Amsterdam. The view hasn’t changed too much – a measured survey of the immense opening movement through to a mesmerising account of the great final Adagio – but the playing of the Bavarian Radio Symphony is outstanding, and beautifully captured in concert.

Vaughan Williams

Vaughan Williams

Symphony No. 9; Job

Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis
Chandos CHSA5180 (hybrid CD/SACD)

Reviewed April 2017

Vaughan Williams’s final symphony has the sinister bite of Shostakovich at his bleakest – a quality not lost on Davis and his Bergen ensemble who have a tight grip on the work’s waspish qualities with playing of eeriness and beauty. The Elizabethan-inspired Job is cloaked in luscious sound.

Audio clip: Scherzo from Symphony No. 9

Schmidt & Strauss

Schmidt Symphony No. 2

Strauss Dreaming by the Fireside

Vienna Philharmonic/Semyon Bychkov
Sony Classical 88985355522

Reviewed July 2017

Semyon Bychkov pleads masterpiece status for a rarity. Schmidt’s late Romantic style needs the sheen of the Vienna Philharmonic, here captured in outstandingly natural and spacious sound – this is a winner on the engineering front, too. The jury was unanimous in welcoming this splendid risk from a major label.

Vasily Petrenko

Tchaikovsky Symphonies Nos 1, 2 and 5

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko
Onyx ONYX 4150

Reviewed October 2016

Vasily Petrenko celebrates ten years as music director of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra with these glorious Tchaikovsky performances. The string sound is beautifully warm, the wind playing pungent, and the symphonies superbly shaped and paced. There’s idiomatic Slavonic fire and passion here without an ounce of flab.

Copland

Copland Symphony for Organ and Orchestra; Orchestral Variations; Short Symphony; Symphonic Ode

BBC Philharmonic/John Wilson; Jonathan Scott (organ)
Chandos CHSA 5171 (hybrid CD/SACD)

Reviewed November 2016 

Sibelius

Sibelius Symphonies Nos 3, 6 and 7

Minnesota Orchestra/Osmo Vänskä
BIS BIS-2006 (hybrid CD/SACD)

Reviewed August 2016

Richard Strauss

Symphonia Domestica; Die Tageszeiten
Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra; Berlin Radio Choir/Marek Janowski
Pentatone PTC5186507

Reviewed October 2015

There are revelations aplenty in this pairing of Strauss’s often overlooked Symphonia Domestica with the virtually unknown Die Tageszeiten. Janowski’s fresh approach brings out the detail and the drama of the Symphonia, while the Berlin Radio Choir and Symphony Orchestra are in sublime form for the gorgeous Die Tageszeiten.

Sakari Oramo

Nielsen

Symphonies Nos 1 & 3
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra/Sakari Oramo
BIS BIS 2048 (hybrid CD/SACD)

Reviewed March 2015

Sakari Oramo and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra’s excellent Nielsen symphony cycle shines with particular lustre in their account of the two least-known works. Both are performed with compelling symphonic purpose, No. 1 with a spring in its step and considerable charm and grandeur, while No. 3 has vigour and atmosphere.

CPE Bach

Hamburg Symphonies
Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra/Sakari Oramo
Alba ABCD 374 (hybrid CD/SACD)

Reviewed February 2015

It can sometimes take a Finnish musician to hear afresh, and to bring new insight into German repertoire. The Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra and Sakari Oramo have renewed the sheer surprise factor in these wonderful little 18th-century symphonies, unleashing the ‘bold and imaginative’ character which struck their early listeners so forcibly.