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Symphony Hall, International Convention Centre, Birmingham, UK  [ photos ]   [ quotes ]   [ press ]

The 1995 Gramophone Awards

by Ivor Humphreys / Gramophone (November, 1995)

SYMPHONY HALL in Birmingham is widely acknowledged as one of the finest concert-halls in the world. The acoustic design is the work of the American opera house, theatre and concert-hall acoustician Russell Johnson, whose company Artec Consultants has been responsible for fashioning a number of excellent halls around the world. The response of Symphony Hall can be tailored by an array of movable panels and controllable volumes to suit the type and scale of music in question, but although audiences have enjoyed beautifully clear and rounded sounds since the hall's inauguration, it has taken a while for commercial recordings to capture the effect as impressively as this. Reviewing the disc in August last year, Michael Oliver described the recording as "outstanding: lucid, rich and spacious, with tremendous and perfectly focused climaxes." Balance engineer Mike Clements has indeed achieved a remarkably lifelike sound here, the whole canvas of soloists, chorus and orchestra beautifully layered (singers and instrumentalists in realistic perspective), the tonal balance superb - such a good upper strings sound, such 'purpose' to the bass. Voting for this recording, from the final short list of 14, singled it out as the clear winner, but very high praise is due also to Chandos for its superb recording of Walton's Troilus and Cressida which has won the Opera category (see page 51) and to Collins Classics for its disc of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies's Second Symphony (BBC Philharmonic Orchestra under the composer's baton, 9/94), another orchestral recording of remarkable clarity and depth.


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