Thursday, 27 September 2012

Gramophone Awards 2012 - youth and experience

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2012
The 2012 Gramophone Awards have been announced, and the brilliant young pianist Benjamin Grosvenor has been named Best Young Artist of the Year and has won the Best Instrumental category, the youngest person to ever have achieved a double award. Anyone who saw has appearance opening the BBC Proms last year or has heard his debut recital disc of Ravel, Chopin and Liszt on Decca can testify both to his virtuosity and to the maturity of his playing.

Despite the proliferation of awards in the classical music industry, the Gramophone Awards still remain the ones with the strongest reach and the most serious depth of purpose to them, recognising a wide range of types of classical artist.


The publicly voted Artist of the Year award has gone to the popular Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja, who made a striking appearance at the Last Night of the Proms this year. Calleja is a genuinely popular communicator, he has just released a disc commemorating Mario Lanza, and has got to No. 1 in the Danish Pop Charts! I only hope that he continues to ensure that his career is firmly anchored in the operatic world and does not get seduced into living in a whirl of cross-over.

The Lifetime Achievement award has gone to Claudio Abbado, one of the world's great conductors he has recorded for Deutsche Gramophon since 1967! And has more than 20 complete opera recordings under his belt. But he also spends a lot of time nurturing new talent, he is the founder and music director of the Youth Orchestra of the European Union and the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra, and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe,

The Piano Award, a new award for 2012, goes to Murray Perahia, effectively another lifetime achievement award for a great artist. He has been celebrating 40 years recording for Sony Classical (and its predecessor CBS Masterworks).

The Baroque Instrumental category winners are the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, for their disc of Bach Orchestral Suites on Harmonia Mundi. They are a group that always combines exciting playing with strong scholarship. Baroque Vocal goes to Vox Luminis and Lionel Richter for their recording of Schutz's masterpiece, the Musichalische Exequien on Ricercar. Great to see such a sombre and tricky work coming up to the top.

The Chamber category goes to Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes who has teamed up with his regular musical partners Christian and Tanja Tezlaff (violin and cello), to record the Schumann complete works for piano trio (on EMI). This is what the best chamber music should be, music amongst friends.

The Choral category goes to Stephen Layton and the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge for their Howells disc on Hyperion, including the Requiem and the St Paul's Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis. I have to admit to not having heard this disc yet, but it is very high on my list of wants. It is great to see how the Requiem, a rich and subtle masterpiece of unaccompanied choral music, has started a very strong career on disc, coming out of the shadow of the Hymnus Paradisi at long last.

The Concerto category is won by Isabelle Faust with the Orchestra Mozart conducted by Claudio Abbado in the Beethoven and Berg violin concertos on Harmonia Mundi. The contemporary category is an all Rautavaara disc from Colin Currie (percussion), Truls Mork (cello) and the Helsiniki Philharmonic Orchestra under John Storgards on Ondine.

The Early Music category is a stunning 10 disc set from Ensemble Plus Ultra under Michael Noone of Victoria's sacred works (on Archiv), a feast of polyphony. The Historic category is Maurizio Pollini's 1960 recording of Chopin Etudes on Testament. The Opera category is Claudio Abbado's new Fidelio with Nina Stemme and Jonas Kaufmann and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra recorded live in 2010, an essential on anyone's shelves I would think. Jiri Belohlavek and the BBC Symphony Orchestra win the Orchestral category with their Martinu Symphonies on Onyx.

The DVD documentary disc is Owsley Brown III and Jermoe Hiler's story of the Lousiville Orchestra in Kentucky in the Great Depression, on Harmonia Mundi, and the DVD performance disc is Claudio Abbado making a further appearance, conducting his Lucerne Festival Orchestra in Bruckner Five on Accentus.

The Recital disc is Iestyn Davies beautiful Arias for Guadagni with Arcangelo on Hyperion, great to see a young group like Arcangelo making it into the main Recital category rather than one of the early music ones.

Finally, the Solo Vocal category is Simon Keenleyside and Malcolm Martineau's Songs of War on Sony Classical; Keenleyside's first appearance in the Solo Vocal category.

http://www.gramophone.co.uk/awards/2012

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