No US orchestra comes close to Minnesota’s disc record

No US orchestra comes close to Minnesota’s disc record


norman lebrecht

October 30, 2018

Here’s the claim from the Vänskä-BIS teams:

No other American orchestra comes close to equaling the Minnesota Orchestra’s achievement as a recording powerhouse over the past quarter-century. Most orchestras in the U.S. are not recording at all or release only occasional live recordings, usually on in-house labels with zero support from major record companies.

Anyone care to dispute that?

CORRECTION: By our reckoning, the Minnesota Orchestra has made 16 discs with Vanska.

Someone must have made more.


  • boringfileclerk says:

    The Cleveland Pops Orchestra.

  • drummerman says:

    What about the Albany (NY) Symphony, under David Alan Miller?

  • Saul Davis says:

    Why should anyone? It’s a great accomplishment for a great orchestra with a great conductor.

  • Jon H says:

    Ask Naxos

  • MacroV says:

    Not arguing BIS’ point, but the Seattle Symphony made a lot of recordings with Gerard Schwarz starting in 1986 and going thru, I don’t know. Many for Delos (which I believe went kaput and some ended up on Naxos), others originally for Naxos. Some for other labels. And a lot of movie soundtracks, too, if I’m not mistaken. Under Ludovic Morlot and Thomas Dausgaard they’ve made a bunch for their in-house label in recent years, too.

  • The View from America says:

    It all depends on when you start the timeline. If you go back 25 years, maybe the MO is (barely).

    But if you go back 40 years, then other orchestras have been much more active such as NYPO, CO, BSO, CSO, SFSO, LAPO.

    If you go back 70 years, then the MO (aka Minneapolis Symphony) goes back on the list.

    And if you go back just 15 years, there are others that have been as active, like the Seattle SO, Baltimore SO, Buffalo PO, the list goes on.

    … All of which goes to show that PR flacking such as this is worth almost as much as the paper it’s printed on …

  • guest says:

    Atlanta sure did make a lot of recordings for Telarc. Won a bunch of Grammys with them, too.

  • guest says:

    Boston seems to be doing pretty well on DG, though admittedly this is recent.

  • Ingrid Matthiessen says:

    does OSM qualify or is it truly only USA?

  • guest says:

    Recording powerhouse? Is anyone running out to buy Minn recordings over other options out there? I’m sure they play well, but can any of their recordings be considered definitive? Just asking.

    • Caravaggio says:

      Correct. Nothing they have issued makes it to the definitives list. Don’t quite understand the classical music establishment’s love affair with the Minnesota and their MD. What is it?

    • Jack says:

      They did a very distinguished Beethoven Symphony cycle a few years ago. Got a lot of excellent reviews. Their Sibelius cycle is also highly regarded. Though that wasn’t the subject of Norman’s post, yes they are an excellent orchestra with a distinguished conductor.

  • WhataboutPittsburgh? says:

    What about the Pittsburgh Symphony?

  • With all due respect to the fine folks at BIS, and our friends at the wonderful Minnesota Orchestra, the Nashville Symphony Orchestra has – since 2000
    – released a total of 34 discs on the Naxos, Decca, Deutsche Grammophon and New West labels – most of them for important new releases of recordings of the work of major American composers, including numerous Nashville Symphony commissions and co-commissions. These recordings have thus far, earned 13 Grammy Awards from a total of 24 Grammy nominations.

  • Jack says:

    They’re a superb orchestra with a renowned conductor. I’m glad to hear that they’re recording a lot. When ANY orchestra is recording a lot, that’s good news.

  • Guest says:

    Are they recording just to record or are they recording because they have something new to say? I’m afraid it’s largely the former. From what I’ve heard, they haven’t said anything new in the Mahler CDs and, in fact, had a terrible review of their Mahler in the American Record Guide. Just another recording to throw on the heaping pile.

  • Robert H Wilkins says:

    What about the huge Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra contract with BMG. SLSO issued a very significant disc with Leonard Slatkin on BMG,EMI,Telarc,Vox,Nonesuch, New World Records,

  • Gregory Walz says:

    Since September 2015, the Utah Symphony has released three recordings on Reference Recordings, with an all-Prokofiev one to appear in the next year or less. The orchestra has also begun recording for Hyperion, with three releases to come in the next year and a half, featuring all five symphonies and assorted other works of Saint-Saens. An all-Berlioz recording will then be released in about two years, with other recordings likely to follow on one or both of these labels thereafter, at least during music director Thierry Fischer’s ongoing tenure.

  • Billy says:

    “Most orchestras in the U.S. are not recording at all or release only occasional live recordings, usually on in-house labels with zero support from major record companies.”

    I don’t understand; is this meant to be a diss towards in-house labels? What’s the problem with an orchestra releasing their own material?

    As to the question of which orchestra has released the most recordings, pretty sure the NYPO easily has Minnesota beat—I mean, did Minnesota ever release an iTunes pass of basically an entire season’s worth of music? Because that’s just what NYPO did in 2009-10, and they subsequently released a LOT of recordings each season for the next several seasons.

  • Bruce says:

    Well, if the label’s publicity dept. says it, it must be true…

  • David K. Nelson says:

    Without hard numbers to go by we’re all just throwing names up in the air. Even the Milwaukee Symphony had an aggressive recording schedule when Koss (the headphones company) had its own label, which also featured the Indianapolis Symphony.

  • Vaquero357 says:

    The Bis claim may be correct on a technicality: the MO’s recordings are *studio* recordings, not concert transcriptions. Is that the case with the Nashville recordings? (Not that there’s anything wrong if it isn’t – many excellent commercial recordings have been made in concert.)

    But also keep in mind that the MO release come out at the rate of 1 or 2 a year. So, yes, in the last 20 years (though I’d be more inclined to say 15), they MAY have issued more commercial studio recordings than any other American orchestra.

    More importantly, it’s good news to see *any* releases from *any* American orchestra.