The Dutch orchestra frequently tops the rankings. As it heads our way, we find out what makes it tick.

A number of years ago the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra were voted ”the best symphony orchestra in the world” by Gramophonemagazine. In 2013 their mission seems to be proving this to the world, as they tour six continents in one year – a feat never before achieved by a symphony orchestra. This month, it’s Australia’s turn to experience the Concertgebouw sound, but before we meet the band, I wanted to find out if the rumours are true. Do the insiders actually agree that the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO) is the best orchestra in the world?

I phone Italian maestro Daniele Gatti, music director of the Orchestre National de France, who has also conducted the Concertgebouw on many occasions – both abroad and on their home turf in Amsterdam. Does he agree with the Gramophoneverdict? “With the utmost respect for the classification I do not believe that there is a best man or woman, the best soccer player, best composer or best orchestra. We are talking about the Concertgebouw Orchestra being among the best. Putting it that way is also...

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