Gramophone excludes Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra from Orchestra of the Year award
The UK publication Gramophonerenowned for its comprehensiveness and independence, controversially omitted the Berlin Philharmonic from the shortlist of nominees for its annual Orchestra of the Year award, drawing an indictment of less-than-objective criticism from by British music journalist Norman Lebrecht.
The annual award, voted by Gramophonecelebrates ensembles showcasing “collaborative musical creation at the highest level and reflecting the finest recording activity”.
Writing about his popular Herniated disc website, Lebrecht claims that “the most objective ears” can testify that the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra “regularly performs at a level rarely achieved” by the 10 orchestras that Gramophone names the best in the world for 2022.
The reason for the omission, suggests Lebrecht, is that the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra “no longer cares about the recording industry”, releasing its own products, bypassing record companies and, horror of horrors, only sending not his recordings to Gramophone for review.
In reality, GramophoneWe always receive recordings from the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Martin Cullingford, editor and publisher of GramophoneTold limelight“On the contrary, not only do we cover them – their release of violin concertos by Bartók, Beethoven and Berg with Frank Peter Zimmermann was an Editor’s Choice in November, while a recent recording by the Philharmonic Orchestra of Berlin from Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 received the top pick for this Collection of the Month feature – but I would say that far from bypassing the recording industry, their beautifully recorded and presented releases are beacons of what recording can The Berlin Philharmonic can however speak for itself, as can its recordings, but the suggestion that Gramophone ignores them, let alone somehow snubbed them, is factually incorrect.
The industry has been severely disrupted over the past decade by streaming services and individual performing arts organizations reaching out directly to consumers with streaming performances. Hidden in the shadow of Lebrecht’s reporting is the implication that GramophoneThe apparent lack of objectivity is partly driven by commercial concerns, Gramophone relying on a healthy recording industry for its content.
But has the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra been targeted for punishment? Lebrecht perhaps undermines his own argument when he notes in the same article that the four major London orchestras were omitted from the list, as were all American orchestras except the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
So what are the top 10 orchestras in the world in 2022 according to Gramophone (in alphabetical order)?
Bavarian State Orchestra
Budapest Festival Orchestra
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
The Halle Orchestra
Mahler Chamber Orchestra
Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
This is a somewhat surprising list, but perhaps Gramophone was just trying to shake things up a bit? As any music review editor knows, picking out which performances to review and which to omit is an unenviable task, and one inevitably ends up offending those who don’t make the list.
Cullingford said limelight this GramophoneThe shortlist for Orchestra of the Year “changes each year, giving readers and visitors to our website (who make the final decision) a range of superb orchestras to choose from, drawn from the breadth of genre. together and geography. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra was on the list last year and I’m sure they will be on the list again in the years to come. The only bias we show is towards recorded activity, which is our magazine’s primary mission, and as you browse our review pages from last year, you will see that those we have chosen have produced extraordinary recordings and were acclaimed by our critics.
Lily limelightThe latest recorded reviews from around the world, curated by editor Clive Paget.