Gramophone Orchestral Award-winners: 2000-2014

Gramophone Tue 2nd June 2015

Always one of the most hotly-contested categories at the Gramophone Awards, these are the finest orchestral recordings of the century so far

Two conductors have won the Orchestral category twice at the Gramophone Awards since the year 2000 (for monumental recordings of music by Tchaikovsky, Suk, Martinů and Shostakovich): Vasily Petrenko and Jiři Bĕlohlávek. In fact, Bĕlohlávek won this award in two consecutive years – a remarkable achievement. But then all of these recordings would grace any collection. Follow the links to read the original Gramophone reviews. Happy listening!

2000

Mahler Symphony No 10

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Simon Rattle

(EMI/Warner Classics)

'Rattle makes the strongest possible case for an astonishing piece of revivification that only the most die-hard purists will resist. Strongly recommended.' Read review

2001

Vaughan Williams A London Symphony

London Symphony Orchestra / Richard Hickox

(Chandos)

'Hickox and the LSO respond with an unquenchable spirit, generous flexibility and tender affection that suit VW’s admirably ambitious inspiration to a T, and Chandos’s sound is big and bold to match. Quite simply, an essential purchase for anyone remotely interested in British music.' Read review

2002

Bruckner Symphony No 8

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Günter Wand

(RCA)

'When in the Scherzo you sense that the mountains themselves are beginning to dance‚ you know you are onto a good thing; on this occasion‚ Olympus itself seems to have caught the terpsichorean bug.' Read review

2003

Sibelius Rondo of the Waves

Lahti Symphony Orchestra / Osmo Vänskä

(BIS)

'The whole collection offers the most illuminating picture of Sibelius’s creative process, reflecting not so much the austerity we associate with him as his practical musicianship in developing sparks of inspiration.' Read review

2004

Bax Symphonies

BBC Philharmonic / Vernon Handley

(Chandos)

'Let me say straight away that superlatives are in order here, though even seasoned Baxians will, I suspect, be startled by the propulsive vigour and sinewy strength of these performances.' Read review

2005

Haydn Paris Symphonies

Concentus Musicus Wien / Nikolaus Harnoncourt

(DHM)

'Harnoncourt is typically alert to every message the music has for us, drawing drama, humour, tenderness and colour at all turns, leaving the listener nothing to do but gasp, smile or glow in his wake.' Read review

2006

Mahler Symphony No 6

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Claudio Abbado

(DG)

'Abbado’s sweetly attenuated string sound is just as beautiful as Karajan’s more saturated sonority, a testament to the chamber-like imperatives of his latter-day music-making, not to mention the advantage of adequate rehearsal time!' Read review

2007

Prokofiev Symphonies

London Symphony Orchestra / Valery Gergiev

(Decca/Philips)

'I should say at once that the new performances of the Second, Sixth and Seventh are probably the finest on CD.' Read review

2008

Myaskovsky Symphonies

USSR State and Russian Federation Symphony Orchestras / Evgeny Svetlanov

(Warner Classics)

'For anyone coming fresh to the composer and his world, the Warner set provides an extraordinarily economical, if potentially mystifying, entrée.' Read review

2009

Tchaikovsky Manfred Symphony

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Vasily Petrenko

(Naxos)

'Petrenko’s Manfred emerges from the gothic greys of the opening wind chorale to vent his heartache in an emotive surge of string sound. And to ensure that we’ve grasped the measure of his despair, he repeats himself.' Read review

2010

Dvořák Symphonic Poems

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Charles Mackerras

(Supraphon)

'His performing style in this music often reminds me of his one-time teacher Václav Talich, the way dance rhythms are underlined but never overstated, the solidity of the playing and what seems like an intuitive understanding of the music’s extraordinarily strong atmosphere.' Read review

2011

Shostakovich Symphony No 10

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Vasily Petrenko

(Naxos)

'If there has been a finer account of the Tenth in recent years, I confess I must have missed it; and I would be surprised.' Read review

2012

Martinů Symphonies Nos 1-6

BBC Symphony Orchestra / Jiři Bĕlohlávek

(Onyx)

'In short, Bĕlohlávek and the BBC SO are now my top recommendation for the Martinů symphonies, with Järvi and the Bamberg Symphony a credible budget option.' Read review

2013

Suk A Summer's Tale. Prague

BBC Symphony Orchestra / Jiři Bĕlohlávek

(Chandos)

'Bělohlávek holds the tension in both pieces from the first bar to the last. Wonderful!' Read review

2014

Brahms The Symphonies

Gewandhaus Orchestra / Riccardo Chailly

(Decca)

'During his eight-year reign in Leipzig, the Gewandhaus Orchestra has become as articulate a Brahms ensemble as any in Austro-Germany. It helps, of course, that Chailly himself is a trusted Brahmsian.' Read review

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