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 Awards, Gramophone Awards 2018 - the top three in each category

Gramophone Awards 2018 Following last week's shortlist of sixty titles, the top three recordings in each category for the 2018 Gramophone Awards have been announced this morning. The ten category-winners will be revealed on 31st August, and the ceremony itself will take place on September 13th at the Connaught Rooms in London - details of special prizes including Artist and Recording of the Year will be unveiled on the night...

You can browse Gramophone's devoted digimag featuring full reviews of all sixty shortlisted titles here.

Chamber

'They have a powerful understanding of the music’s structure, coupled to superlative technical skill. Sensibly, they don’t try to fake a Hungarian accent: instead, their awareness of the music’s roots is incorporated into a wider expressive language.'

Available Formats: 2 CDs, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Renaud Capuçon, Christoph Koncz (violins), Gérard Caussé, Marie Chilemme (violas) & Gautier Capuçon, Clemens Hagen (cellos)

'The Capuçon brothers and their colleagues may be an ad hoc group but they play with the unanimity and blended tone of a veteran ensemble...Best of all, the musicians find a near-ideal balance of urgency and patience – the hallmark of a great Brahms interpretation.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Boris Giltburg (piano), Pavel Nikl (viola), Pavel Haas Quartet

'From the off, they make the music their own...the sense of story-telling is very persuasive...Another triumphant addition to the Pavel Haas’s already Award-laden discography.'

Available Format: CD

Choral

I Fagiolini, Robert Hollingworth

'There is plenty of warmth and animation in the superb music-making. I Fagiolini’s consort and solo singing are exemplary...In such sure hands (and throats) as these, Monteverdi’s psalm-settings reach their fullest capacity to enchant and astonish.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Kaspars Putniņš

'The Estonians have always rejoiced in a warm, rich sound and perfect blend, and guided by the utterly precise and dynamic Kaspars Putninš they give here a truly outstanding rendition that picks up every emotional and spiritual nuance with no sacrifice of technical perfection.'

Available Formats: SACD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Bart Jacobs (organ), Vox Luminis, Lionel Meunier

'The music is of consistently high quality, the selections by ‘minor’ figures frequently as telling as those by acknowledged masters...Programmatic flair is backed up by performances and a sound recording to match.'

Available Format: 2 CDs

Concerto

Christian Tetzlaff (violin), Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Hannu Lintu

'An out-and-out winner...Tetzlaff’s account of the First Concerto elevates this work to a whole new level of musical excellence, so much so that I’m inclined to place his expertly recorded CD of the two concertos ahead of all rival versions. It’s that good!'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Steven Isserlis (cello/director), The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen

'These interpretations sing of an artist still thoroughly in tune with his previous thoughts, but who is keen to develop those ideas further. He's supported every step of the way in this pursuit by the warmly responsive Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen.'

Available Format: CD

Piotr Anderszewski (piano), Chamber Orchestra of Europe

'There are so many moments here that bring a smile to a jaded Mozartian’s face...Anderszewski’s piano is right there in the middle of it, supporting, chattering away in passagework, never once hogging the spotlight.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Contemporary

Håkan Hardenberger (trumpet), Gothenburg Symphony, John Storgårds

'Not only is Dean’s piece as theatrical as its title would suggest, it also has a compelling downwards trajectory...Luca Francesconi’s concerto Hard Pace couldn’t be more different but is just as special, perhaps even more so...With Storgårds and the GSO, it’s a dream team.'

Available Formats: SACD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Arditti Quartet, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France

'Both pieces reaffirm Dusapin’s quartet cycle as among the most significant now emerging.'

Available Format: CD

BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Martyn Brabbins

'The music fair kidnaps the listener's attention at the outset and does not ransom it until the gripping, wholly satisfying close...The performance by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales is stunning in its virtuosity (especially the three timpanists) and Brabbins shapes the whole edifice grippingly.'

Available Formats: SACD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Early Music

Blue Heron, Scott Metcalfe

'At full stretch there isn’t a weak link from top to bottom...try the Mass that forms the centrepiece here...I doubt whether I’ll be alone in thinking this one of the discoveries of the year.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Odhecaton, Paolo Da Col

'Both music and performance are on a pleasingly high level...the groups are so well blended (and indeed opulent) that one imagines that Galeazzo would have been delighted.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

'This has to be one of the most exciting and engaging releases of medieval song in recent years...The singers use a variety of techniques to engage and communicate, from beautiful clear phrasing to crisp, expressive consonants...Every performance on this disc is illuminating, considered and committed.'

Available Format: CD

Instrumental

Arcadi Volodos (piano)

'This is one of those discs where a word count is a strange thing. For it needs only four: Go Buy This Disc...whatever he does, you can’t imagine the music going any other way, which is perhaps the definition of a great artist.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano)

'Aimard’s interpretations are anything but tame. His dynamic range is formidable, his voicing of chords scrupulously faithful, his clarity unimpeachable. It’s hard to imagine the textures having greater impact or precision.'

Available Formats: 3 SACDs, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Marc-André Hamelin (piano), Leif Ove Andsnes (piano)

'For sheer articulacy, synchronised gymnastics, flawless balance, range of colour and flinty attack, or any other criterion you care to reach for, this is breathtaking pianism...An immensely collectable album: a strong candidate for Disc of the Year, never mind of the Month.'

Available Format: CD

Opera

Joyce DiDonato (Didon), Michael Spyres (Énée), Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Cassandre), Orchestre et Choeur philharmonique de Strasbourg; John Nelson

'Nelson is in no great rush, allowing Berlioz’s music time to breathe where necessary…[His] cast is simply to die for...Énée is thrillingly sung by Michael Spyres…DiDonato’s vehement response to Énée’s desertion reveals her as a great tragedienne…In short this is a peach of recording.'

Available Formats: 4 CDs + DVD Video, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Christian Gerhaher, Magdalena Kožená, Gerald Finley, Bernarda Fink, Franz-Josef Selig, London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle

'Rattle maintains both a clear pulse in individual scenes and a through line...The LSO’s playing throughout is at a high level of virtuosity...Gerhaher and Kožená are good at not over-egging the pudding of their confusions and naiveties...An early jewel in the crown of Simon Rattle’s assumption of the principal conductorship of the LSO.'

Available Format: 3 SACDs + Blu-ray Audio

Judith Van Wanroij, Edwin Crossley-Mercer, Emiliano Gonzalez Toro; Christophe Rousset, Les Talens Lyriques

'Few if any conductors match Christophe Rousset’s understanding of Lullian style and rhetoric...His pacing and inflecting of the music seems unerring...it is hard to imagine this music, often delightful, sometimes witty, intermittently touching, coming alive more vividly than it does here.'

Available Formats: 2 CDs, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Orchestral

Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano), Colin Currie (percussion), Isabelle Faust (violin), Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello), BBC Symphony Orchestra, BCMG, Oliver Knussen

'No one hearing the pieces on this disc is likely to doubt their technical finesse or expressive refinement: qualities that go a long way towards the defining of ‘lateness’ in artistic terms...There are unlikely to be any better discs of contemporary music this year.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Les Siècles & Ensemble Aedes, François-Xavier Roth

'Les Siècles’ French-built woodwind and brass instruments from the early 20th century...Lean gut strings achieve feathery lightness... With fine choral contributions from the Ensemble Aedes, this new recording is highly recommended.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

MusicAeterna, Teodor Currentzis

'This is a symphony of silences; Currentzis has calibrated them with the unsparing precision of a Pinter or a Haneke...Perhaps, in the Pathétique, Currentzis has met his match...It’s early days, but only the most exalted of comparisons suggest themselves.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Recital

Sabine Devieilhe (soprano), Alexandre Tharaud (piano) Les Siècles, François-Xavier Roth

'Roth exploits the period instruments of Les Siècles to emphasise the sheer variety of orchestral colours on display...Devieilhe, meanwhile, has a wonderfully instinctive and apparently effortless way with this music...All in all, this refreshing, fascinating and beguiling album is impossible to resist. Highly recommended.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Véronique Gens (soprano), Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Hervé Niquet

'It’s provocative stuff, its emotional – at times emotive – impact immeasurably heightened by very careful programming...Gens and Niquet throw themselves into all this with an engrossing mix of abandon and restraint. Gens’s trademark combination of purity of utterance and smoky tone speaks volumes.'

Available Format: CD

Delphine Galou (contralto), Accademia Bizantina, Ottavio Dantone

'This is a treasure trove of rare music…Galou is a perfect singer to introduce us to this music, thanks to an agile and comfortable technique...The playing of Accademia Bizantina…is keen as mustard and filled with typically telling detail by director Ottavio Dantone.'

Available Format: CD

Solo Vocal

Holger Falk (baritone), Steffen Schleiermacher (piano)

'All the songs receive terrific performances. Holger Falk has a clear, cleanly focused baritone that can run the gamut from a honeyed piano to something more like an impassioned shout...There’s also an ideal balance between sophistication and rawness.'

Available Format: CD

Malcolm Martineau (piano), with Janis Kelly (soprano), Lorna Anderson (soprano), Ann Murray (mezzo), John Chest (baritone) et al

'The second instalment of Malcolm Martineau’s survey of Fauré’s songs is exceptionally beautiful, both in choice of material and quality of performance...Martineau’s understanding of Fauré’s piano-writing, in which less means more and virtuosity is avoided in favour of nuance, remains impeccable.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Marianne Crebassa (mezzo), Fazil Say (piano)

'With her warm tone and often remarkable way with both vocal colour and verbal inflection, Crebassa is outstanding in this repertory, and in Fazıl Say she has an accompanist whose direct yet subtle approach matches her own...One of the finest French song recitals of recent years. I cannot recommend it too highly.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC