I always rather like the annual announcement of the Gramophone Award category winners. Quite apart from it being a nod to the great and the good of the world I feel at home with, its also a rather nice curated list of quality recorded music – a guiding hand through music I wouldn’t otherwise make a point of listening to.
In years gone by, it’s also triggered a series of articles about ‘the trouble with classical music’ using ‘the trouble with classical music award ceremonies’ as a rather predictable and tiresome hook. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again this year.
Of this year’s category winners (listed below), I’m particularly pleased to see the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s Gerontius getting an award. So too Maria João Pires recording of Beethoven’s third and fourth piano concertos with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Daniel Harding – a sublime combination of elegance and sophistication, and that’s just Pires candenza in the C Minor.
The Gramophone Classical Music Awards aren’t over yet. On September 17 at a special glitzy event at St John’s Smith Square (I’m getting my DJ dry-cleaned just in case). Gramophone will announce which one of the following recordings gets the coveted Recording of the Year award for 2015), plus there’s a nod for Young Artist of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Label of the Year, and Artist of the Year (voted for by the public).
The category winners are listed below.
JS Bach Cello Suites – David Watkin (cello) – [Resonus RES10147]
Monteverdi Vespro della beata Vergine – Concerto Italiano / Rinaldo Alessandrini – [Naïve OP30557]
Smetana String Quartets Nos 1 & 2 – Pavel Haas Quartet – [Supraphon SU4172-2]
Elgar The Dream of Gerontius – BBC SO & Chorus / Sir Andrew Davis / Sarah Connolly; Stuart Skelton -[Chandos CHSA5140]
Beethoven Piano Concertos Nos 3 & 4 – Maria João Pires (pf) Swedish RSO / Daniel Harding – [Onyx 4125]
Nørgård Symphonies Nos 1 & 8 -Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Sakari Oramo – [Dacapo 6.220574]
‘The Spy’s Choirbook’ – Alamire; English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble / David Skinner – [Obsidian CCLCD712]
Bach English Suites Nos 1, 3 & 5 – Piotr Anderszewski (pianoforte) – [Warner Classics 0825646219391]
R Strauss Elektra – Orchestre de Paris / Esa-Pekka Salonen (dir Patrice Chéreau) – [BelAir Classique BAC 110]
Bruckner Symphony No 9 – Lucerne Festival Orchestra / Claudio Abbado – [DG 4793441]
(sponsored by Mrs Joan Jones) – ‘A French Baroque Diva’ – Arias for Marie Fel – Carolyn Sampson (sop), Ex Cathedra / Jeffrey Skidmore – [Hyperion CDA68035]
Schubert Lieder – Nachtviolen – Christian Gerhaher (bar) Gerold Huber (pf) – [Sony Classical 8888 3712172]
The special Gramphone issue for this year’s awards issue is out on September 18. The original Gramophone reviews of all the shortlisted recordings have been reproduced in a special digimag, in association with Qobuz, available to download for free for iPad or tablet.
The Gramophone Awards are presented in association with EFG International, with the Recital Award sponsored by Mrs Joan Jones and the Recording of the Year Award sponsored by Qobuz Sublime.