COE recordings: Latest news

At the end of February 2020 the COE musicians travelled back home after a memorable COE tour to Belgium and Italy with Matthias Pintscher and pianist Emanuel Ax. Little did we know that we would not meet again until a very short stint with Sir Simon Rattle and Vilde Frang in Berlin in October, after which we would be silenced again until July 2021.

During these unsettling and trying times, the COE embarked on a number of initiatives, working on the release of archive recordings with the late Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Paavo Berglund, two very dear friends of the Orchestra.

Schubert Symphonies, COE/Nikolaus Harnoncourt, ICA Classics, November 2020

Our first release came out in November 2020: a 4-CD box-set of all the Schubert Symphonies recorded in 1988 with Nikolaus Harnoncourt at the Styriarte Festival in Graz. With the full support and blessing of Nikolaus’s wife, Alice, we released the set with ICA Classics to great international acclaim.

“Miraculous is the only word for it – neither of the conductor’s subsequent cycles (with the Royal Concertgebouw [Warner Classics] and Berlin Philharmonic [DG] Orchestras) quite compares – if pressed to choose a Harnoncourt Schubert symphony cycle this is definitely the one to go for, and it’s extremely well recorded.” (Rob Cowan, Classic FM, formerly BBC Radio 3 presenter and reviewer for Gramophone, The Independent, Classic Record Collector)

“The immediacy of the music-making and the infectious enthusiasm with which the players respond to Harnoncourt is still special – there are insights and truths around every corner – this Schubert set could easily go on my Christmas list this year.” (Andrew McGregor, BBC Radio 3 Record Review, 5/12/20)

“None of the later recordings could top or even come close to the unbelievable freshness and expression, the spontaneity and colour that Harnoncourt conveyed years earlier in his collaboration with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in Graz.” (BR-Klassik, Album of the Week, 12/12/20)

In Japan the Record Geijutsu reviewer even compared Harnoncourt to David Bowie, saying both “are still living and moving the world, as you hear on this CD set”.

The Symphonies were Gramophone Magazine’s Editor’s Choice in their January 2021 issue. They were also German radio station NDR’s CD of the week and were selected by the French Magazine Classica as one of their “Chocs” in June 2021.

Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, COE/Nikolaus Harnoncourt, ICA Classics, October 2021

Following the success of the Schubert recording, we decided to release a second box-set with ICA Classics, again with Nikolaus Harnoncourt, but this time featuring a collection of archive concert recordings made over a number of years in various concert venues. The repertoire included Haydn Symphonies Nos. 100 and 101, Mozart’s Symphony No. 29, March No. 1 and Serenade No. 9, Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos. 5 and 7 and Brahms’s Tragic Overture and Symphony No. 4. These works were recorded in Berlin, Amsterdam and Graz between 1989 and 2007.

The box-set was extensively reviewed on BBC Radio 3’s Record Review and Austrian radio ORF1. In December 2021 we were thrilled to find out that the box-set had won the Japanese Record Academy Award in the Symphony category. The set was also awarded a Diapason d’Or 2022 and a Trophée Radio Classique in January 2022.

“These COE versions claim an extra shot of weight and energy [over the recording with the Berlin Philharmonic]. Well balanced sound clinches a marvelous deal that all fans of this charismatic conductor will want on their shelves.” (Gramophone Magazine, February 2022)

“The real draw of this 4-CD set, though, are the Haydn and Mozart discs. Mozart’s Symphony No. 29 is full of charm, in the finale, dazzling virtuosity, qualities matched by the equally excellent Posthorn Serenade. Their Haydn also has bags of character and affection – and, in the Military Symphony, ferocious menace.” (BBC Music Magazine, March 2022)

Sibelius Symphonies, COE/Paavo Berglund, ICA Classics, January 2022

In parallel to our second box-set, we worked on the release of an archive recording, in DVD and Blu-Ray format this time, of the COE performing all the Sibelius Symphonies at the Helsinki Festival in 1998 with Paavo Berglund. The set was released in January 2022 and we were delighted that Medici TV decided to include the Symphonies in its VOD catalogue, making them available to its many subscribers around the world. The Symphonies were particularly successful in Japan where they were Geijutsu’s Critics’ choice and where they received the prestigious Record Academy Award 2022, as was the case with our second CD box-set with Nikolaus Harnoncourt in 2021. The DVD set also topped the Japanese Tower Records chart in 2022 and was exceptionally well reviewed on BBC Radio 3 Record Review, a programme which usually does not review DVDs and Blu-Rays.

Beethoven Symphonies, COE/Yannick Nézet-Séguin, DG, July 2022

As soon as the restrictions had been lifted enough throughout Europe, the COE was back on the road and our first ‘post-pandemic’ project was the performance and recording for Deutsche Grammophon of all the Beethoven Symphonies with Yannick Nézet-Séguin at the Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden. The recording was released in July 2022 to great international acclaim and was Album of the Week on Bayerischer Rundfunk as well as being nominated for International Classical Music Awards 2023 (ICMA) and for the German Critics’ Award 2022.

Looking ahead…

We are now looking forward to two new releases: Schumann’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Clara Wieck-Schumann’s Piano Concerto with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and Beatrice Rana, recorded in Baden-Baden for Warner Classics to be released in January 2023; and all the Brahms Symphonies, also with Yannick Nézet-Séguin to be released during the course of 2024 for Deutsche Grammophon. Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2 were recorded at the Baden-Baden Festspielhaus in July 2022 and Symphonies Nos. 3 and 4 are planned to be recorded at the same venue in July 2023.

: :