NHK now has out 4 HDVDs with symphony recordings we have graded as "A+." During 2006 and 2007, NHK recorded several symphonies for HDVD that we graded "B" to "A." Then came the breakthrough into "A+" territory:
- In January 2008, NHK recorded a Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6 with the Berlin Philharmonic and Ozawa. This was the first recording to follow all the precepts of our standards for symphony recordings. It was published as a single symphony on a Blu-ray disc. We gave it an "A+" as an audiophile record.
- Later in 2008, NHK recorded a great Mahler Symphony No. 1 with the Saito Kinen Orchestra and Ozawa, which we graded "A+." This was published with an older recording of the Symphony fantastique that we graded "A."
- In 2009, NHK recorded a Brahms Symphony No. 2 by the Saito Kinen Orchestra and Ozawa, which we graded "A+." This also appeared with an older recording that got a "B."
- Finally, in 2009, NHK put it all together with their monumental recording of the Schumann Piano Concerto and the Bruckner Symphony 9 played by the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam under Haitink. Although this record was published in Japanese primarily for the domestic market, it is a world-class event because the Concertgebouw Orchestra is one of the top orchestras in the world. Using impeccable recording technology and following best practices as to picture content, NHK can claim that this is the best record ever made in any format of a symphony concert presented before a live audience. If you are a classical music professional interested in recordings or a serious record collector, you have to have this title.
Now that NHK has achieved a breakthrough, let's hope they will continue down the new path they have discovered for us.