The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is one of the very best orchestras in the world. Time and time again, critics have lauded its unique sound. The RCO’s string section has been called‘velvety’, the sound of the brass‘golden’, the timbre of the woodwinds‘distinctly personal’ and the percussion have an international reputation. While the exceptional acoustics of the Concertgebouw also play an important role in this respect, no other orchestra sounds like the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in the Main Hall. Equally important is the influence exerted on the orchestra by its chief conductors, of whom there have been only seven since the orchestra was founded in 1888, as is that of the musicians themselves.
RCO Amsterdam is made up of 120 players hailing from over 25 countries. Despite its size, the orchestra actually functions more like a chamber orchestra in terms of the sensitivity with which its members listen to, and work in tandem with, one another. Indeed, this requires both a high individual calibre and a great sense of mutual trust and confidence.
In celebration of its 125th anniversary, the orchestra undertook a world tour in 2013, visiting six continents in a single year. Between 2016 and 2018, the RCO visited all 28 member states of the European Union, performing one work side by side with a local youth orchestra in each country.
The atmosphere onstage, the orchestra’s roots in Amsterdam and the organisational structure (the RCO Board also includes members of the orchestra) all converge to create exactly the right circumstances for exceptional music-making. The musicians are allowed to shine, yet still share responsibility for the collective. They also share the aim of achieving and delivering the highest level of quality at every performance, an ambition that goes far beyond simply playing all the notes perfectly. This is how magic is made and a concert becomes a truly unforgettable experience.
“With the Royal Concertgebouw on supreme form, Jansons unequivocally delivers a performance of cosmic impact [Mahler’s Symphony No.8].”
“Next up was Bruckner, of all things. With its architectural grandeur and emphasis on the sublime, the Symphony No.9 is almost comically different from Rihms’s soundworld, and in it the RCO sounded like a different orchestra. Gatti created a convincingly Brucknerian “cathedral of sound”, underlining the work’s monumental majesty as well as its sense of inexorability.”
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