Almost an impossibility considering the variables, this list is made up of orchestras emphasizing technical viruosity, brilliant soloists, valued traditions, blend and balance, flawless intonation and ensemble, unique timbres, conductor draw, musical consistency at home and on tour, etc. As money, music directors, favours are continually in flux, we could do another list next year (or, maybe next month) and it may look completely different. But, for now, this is how Audiophilia sees it.
And, yes, this particular list is in order. I was surprised not to add Dresden or Leipzig to the list (certainly, both in a Top 20, but oddly, since the fall of the wall, I think they’ve lost their edge a little.
If you have not heard the miraculous Lucerne Festival Orchestra (Abbado’s star collection), plenty on YouTube. Amazing music making.
1. Lucerne Festival Orchestra
2. Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
3. Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
4. Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam
5. Chicago Symphony Orchestra
6. London Symphony Orchestra
7. Philadelphia Orchestra
8. Boston Symphony Orchestra
9. The Cleveland Orchestra
10. The Philharmonia Orchestra