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, as well as the release of all of the Beethoven Symphonies with Yannick Nézet-Séguin. At the end of 2022, we look back at how these recordings have performed.
Following on from our performances and live recording in July 2021 in Baden Baden Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe present Beethoven’s nine symphonies in what is the very first recorded cycle to be based on the recently concluded New Complete Edition of the composer’s works. Yannick has said “I’m interested in how Beethoven’s music can surprise us today. Our interpretation should make the audience feel as if they were hearing this music for the first time. That is my goal.” The set was released by Deutsche Grammophon on 15 July 2022 as a 5‑CD edition, Beethoven: The Symphonies is also available digitally in standard stereo and in the immersive Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio formats. Hailed by the international critic, the set was Album of the Week on Classic FM, BBC Radio 3 and Bayerischer Rundfunk.
The Members of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe would like to express their strong support to the people of Ukraine through their universal language of music and will be playing the Ukrainian National Anthem or appropriate Ukrainian music at their forthcoming concerts whenever possible.
28th January 2022 marks the international release on DVD/BluRay of our full Sibelius symphony cycle performed by the COE and Paavo Berglund at the Helsinki Festival in 1998. This release is a tribute to one of the COE’s most special friends, Paavo, who sadly passed away 10 years ago.
Following the success of our Schubert Symphonies box-set with Nikolaus Harnoncourt last year, we released another set of archive recordings with Nikolaus Harnoncourt with ICA Classics on 22 October this year. The repertoire features live concerts performed between 1989 and 2007 with works by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms. The box-set has been extensively reviewed on BBC Radio 3’s Record Review programme by Sarah Devonald and the programme can be listened to again (from the UK) on BBC Sounds here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0011kr7. You can also listen to our dedicated podcast episode featuring an interview with COE Principal Bassoon Matthew Wilkie talking about the making of the set here: https://www.coeurope.org/coe-podcast/#scroll-to-12. On 1st December 2021, we were thrilled to find out that the box-set had won the Japanese Record Academy Award 2021 in the Symphony category!
In normal times organising the Chamber Orchestra of Europe’s concerts and recordings is a challenge – the players come from all sorts of countries and have regular jobs in orchestras rooted to one location – but putting together a Beethoven Symphony cycle with Yannick Nézet-Séguin in a pandemic summer required a whole new set of tools.
On 18th May 2021, we celebrate a very significant anniversary for the COE – 40 years of wonderful music-making since that first launch concert at the Merchant Taylor’s Hall in London!
In 2022 the internationally acclaimed Chamber Orchestra of Europe (COE) will assume their role as the new orchestra-in-residence at the Esterházy Palace in Eisenstadt. The ensemble was selected by a group of six world-renowned musicians and cultural managers in a multistage process. The residency is for a period of three years during which the orchestra will undertake at least four concert projects per year in the Haydn Hall of the Esterházy Palace.
We are thrilled to let you know that we have started working on a second COE/Harnoncourt box-set, to be released next year and which will feature symphonic repertoire recorded live over the years at the Styriarte Festival in Graz, with the exception of one symphony which was recorded at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. More information about the repertoire on this box-set will be communicated early in the new year. We are also hoping to release a DVD set of our Sibelius Symphonies with Paavo Berglund recorded by Finnish TV at the Helsinki Festival in 1998.
In November, we released a 4-CD box-set of the Schubert Symphonies, recorded live by the Austrian Radio (ORF) in 1988 with Nikolaus Harnoncourt at the Styriarte Festival in Graz. Since the release, we are delighted that the critics all seem unanimous so far and have received this box-set with great enthusiasm.