Paavo Järvi and the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich’s first recording in their Tchaikovsky cycle has won top place in the latest Quarterly Critics Choice for Orchestral Music, awarded by the jury of the German Record Critics’ Award (Preis der Deutsche Schallplatten Kritik).

Competing against a prestigious long-list of recordings that included new releases from the Berlin Philharmonic and Kirill Petrenko, Vienna Philharmonic and Christian Thielemann, Budapest Festival Orchestra and Ivan Fischer and Filarmonica della Scala with Riccardo Chailly, this is a moment of real celebration for Paavo Järvi and the Zürich musicians who have managed to forge a strong relationship in the relatively short time they have worked together.

Announcing the winners today, the jury commented “The introductory, plaintive clarinet solo already emphasizes that crucial matters are being negotiated: it’s all or nothing. Paavo Järvi and his highly motivated Tonhalle Orchestra go through Tchaikovsky’s Fifth as a great drama. It’s direct, vivid, stringent, and until the end of this Russian fate symphony never sounds perfumed, always gripping. Also a musical matter of life and death, the often underestimated symphonic poem »Francesca da Rimini«. This is going to be an exciting Tchaikovsky cycle from Zurich!”

The first release in the Tchaikovsky cycle (Symphony No. 5 and Francesca da Rimini) has also been singled out for a Diapason d’Or in France, featured as Album of the Week on Germany’s WDR Radio and received 5 star reviews from critics across the globe. Here are some of the other review highlights to date:

“CDs of Tchaikovsky’s symphonies are legion, but interpretations of this kind are very rare. Tchaikovsky in Switzerland? Yes, and its hot!”.
Le Devoir / Canada

“It’s been a long time since we’ve heard an interpretation this committed, this exciting, and this emotionally powerful.”
Classics Today / USA

“… absolutely superb … a choice made by its brand new music director that goes into the history of this orchestra, founded over a century and a half ago … The Tonhalle Orchester shines … but Paavo Järvi manages to channel its energy into putting it all at the service of emotion, without anything superficial. We feel it deep within us, and we imagine each musician participating with all their being in this majestic acceptance of destiny … The balance of the orchestra, especially between brass and strings, and the “chamber music” spirit that Paavo Järvi manages to establish with a hundred musicians, make us captivated from the first to the last note.”
Crescendo Magazine / Belgium

“See how the strings sing with a truly overwhelming luminosity … with their mezza di voce so expressive that one would swear you hear them sigh.”
Le Figaro / France

“The competition is overwhelming – and yet: this 5th symphony is a strong, wonderfully round-sounding statement”
Rondo Magazine / Germany

“Actually, I have never heard this work so clear, so pure and so pleasingly new … What a great start to the cycle!”
Hifi und Record / Germany

“When listening to music there is normally no obligation to wear a seat belt. But then you don’t usually have to deal with Paavo Järvi’s Tchaikovsky either … TOZ shapes all of this with a new grandeur in sound
Neue Zürcher Zeitung / Switzerland

“It’s the detail that really sets this performance apart … and it seems there is much to look forward to as this is the first in a cycle of the complete Tchaikovsky symphonies on Alpha.”
BBC Radio 3 / UK

“Live through the seventy-four minutes of this disc, and you’ll reach the last seconds gasping, without words, drained by the intensity of the narrative. Heaven only knows what the players must have felt. Elated yet floored. Wiped out yet triumphant. Järvi at his best.” / UK