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North West orchestras share honours as Gramophone Awards grant them prestigious accolades

  • Date: 27 October 2011
  • Area: North
Orchestra stood on stairs with Sir Mark Elder

Halle with Sir Mark Elder. Credit: Joel Chester Fildes

Liverpool Philharmonic and the Hallé have both been rewarded in an international magazine’s annual recognition of extraordinary merit in classical music performance.

The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Manchester’s Hallé Orchestra were both honoured with major tributes in the Gramophone Awards which are known colloquially as the Oscars of the music world. For these two North West based orchestras to receive such accolades is an indication of the world class standard of our regional orchestras.

The Gramophone Awards – the world’s most influential classical music prizes – were announced on 6 October 2011 at London’s Dorchester Hotel at a ceremony hosted by Last Night of the Proms soprano Susan Bullock.

Manchester’s Hallé Orchestra was honoured with the remarkable achievement of being the first orchestra in 15 years to win two awards in two consecutive years. The Hallé’s 'double-double' win this year propels the orchestra into an extraordinary class of its own – uniquely winning two categories with two separate recordings in each case, two years running.

This year also completes a rare third win in consecutive years for the Hallé, all with works by Elgar. Gramophone reviewer Andrew Achenbach commented on the ‘glow, passion and dedication’ of conductor Sir Mark Elder’s performance, drawing particular attention to ‘orchestral playing and choral singing of notable adroitness from his massed Hallé’.

The Hallé’s debut recording on acclaimed contemporary music label NMC by Manchester-born composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle wins in the Contemporary category. Birtwistle’s explorations of a melodic fragment from Dowland’s In darkness let me dwell reveal the darker side of human experience, and are among the most powerful orchestral pieces of recent years. They are given their premiere recording by the Hallé under Yorkshire-born conductor Ryan Wigglesworth.

The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Chief Conductor Vasily Petrenko were awarded 'Orchestral Recording of the Year' for their recording of Shostakovich’s Symphony No.10.

Released in September 2010, the recording is one of the first six volumes in a critically acclaimed cycle of the complete symphonies by Shostakovich to be released by the Liverpool Philharmonic on the Naxos CD label.

Gramophone Reviewer and BBC Radio 3 Presenter Rob Cowan commented: ‘A great recording of a great Shostakovich symphony that doesn’t come from Russia, but comes from Liverpool. Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic have given us a performance of such heat and intensity; it conjures the spirit and the atmosphere of this symphony like no other modern recording. I must say that if the rest of the cycle is like this, it's going to be a benchmark enterprise.’

It is Liverpool Philharmonic’s second win in three years, having previously scooped the same award in 2009 for Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony, also conducted by Vasily Petrenko.

The annual Gramophone Awards, given this year in association with Steinways & Sons, were launched in 1977 by Gramophone magazine (founded in 1923 by Sir Compton Mackenzie).