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 Awards, Gramophone Awards 2018 - Recording of the Year

Gramophone Awards 2018The Presto team are currently over at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in London for the annual Gramophone Awards, where this year's special awards and of course the coveted Recording of the Year prize have just been announced…

The overall category-winners (which were revealed on 31st August) are listed below, and you can also browse through the complete shortlist of finalists here.

Recording of the Year (and category-winner for Opera)

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

The Recording of the Year prize has been awarded to John Nelson's blistering account of Berlioz's Virgilian epic on Erato, recorded in concert last spring: '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

Artist of the Year - Rachel Podger

The British baroque violinist’s mantelpiece certainly wasn’t lacking Gramophone Awards even before tonight’s revelation: her recording of Vivaldi’s La stravaganza won the concerto category in 2003 (and was nominated for Recording of the Year), and her mesmerising account of Biber’s Rosary Sonatas scooped the instrumental prize two years ago. She appears twice in the longlist for this year’s Awards: her 2017 album Grandissima Gravita (a collection of Pisenel, Tartini, Veracini and Vivaldi) was nominated for this year’s chamber award, and her fresh, pared-down take on Vivaldi's Four Seasons with Brecon Baroque was selected in the concerto category. You can read Katherine's interview with her about the latter recording here.

Browse the full list of her currently available recordings here. Until 19th November 2018, we're offering discounts of up to 50% off all Channel Classics recordings, including Rachel Podger's discs for the label.

Young Artist of the Year - Lise Davidsen

It’s relatively unusual for the Young Artist of the Year Award to go to a performer who’s yet to record their debut solo album, but given Davidsen’s previous form in live performance the confidence seems entirely justifiable: the Norwegian lyric-dramatic soprano won multiple prizes at Plácido Domingo’s Operalia competition in 2015, and has since made sensational debuts at Wigmore Hall, the Teatro Colón, the Bayerische Staatsoper, and Glyndebourne (where she sang Strauss’s Ariadne last summer). Davidsen signed to Decca Classics in May, and her first project for the label will be Strauss’s Four Last Songs and arias from his Ariadne auf Naxos and Wagner’s Tannhäuser; she is currently in London preparing for her Covent Garden debut as Freia, Ortlinde and Third Norn in Wagner’s Ring Cycle later this month.

Lise Davidsen sings the roles of Anitra and Forste seterjente on Edward Gardner's recent recording of Grieg's Peer Gynt on Chandos.

Lifetime Achievement Award - Neeme Järvi

At 81 and with almost 500 recordings to his name, the Estonian-American conductor yields little to his conductor sons Paavo and Kristjan in terms of his ever-expanding repertoire and hectic performing and recording schedule: last month saw the release of his recording of Stenhammar’s mammoth cantata Sången with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, and his albums of Chabrier, Massenet, Martinů and Ibert for Chandos have won widespread acclaim over the past few years (the latter winning an ECHO Klassik Award in 2017). Järvi continues to work regularly with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, all of whom he has served as principal conductor/musical director; upcoming engagements include Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 15 and songs from Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Matthias Goerne.

Browse the full list of his currently available recordings here.

Orchestra of the Year - Seattle Symphony

The American orchestra was up against stiff (and eclectic!) competition for the inaugural Orchestra of the Year Award, with contenders including the London Symphony Orchestra, Il Pomo d’Oro and Les Siècles, but recent recordings under current music director Ludovic Morlot and his successor-elect Thomas Dausgaard have really stood out from the crowd: Morlot has made something of a speciality of late twentieth-century music including Boulez’s Notations and a Grammy-winning album of Dutilleux, whilst Dausgaard’s slow-burning Mahler 10 (released on the orchestra’s own label in 2016) was an orchestral finalist at last year’s awards. Look out for their forthcoming recording of Berlioz’s Grande Messe des Morts (also on Seattle Symphony Media, under Morlot), which will be released at the end of the month.

Browse the full list of their currently available recordings here.

Label of the Year - Harmonia Mundi

This accolade is a surprise sixtieth birthday-present for the Arles-based independent label, who were founded in France by Bernard Coutaz in 1958 and have produced countless landmark recordings with artists including René Jacobs, William Christie, Philippe Herreweghe, Paul Lewis, Mark Padmore and Isabelle Faust, as well as this year’s orchestral winner – Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe with François-Xavier Roth and Les Siècles. Other stand-out releases this year have included Alexander Melnikov’s revelatory Debussy Préludes, Ravel and Debussy from the Jerusalem Quartet, Haydn sonatas from Paul Lewis, and the riveting concept-album Enfers from baritone Stephane Dégout, Raphaël Pichon and Pygmalion.

You can browse the complete Harmonia Mundi catalogue here.

Category Winners

Chamber

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

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

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

Contemporary

Arditti Quartet, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France

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

Available Format: CD

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

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

Orchestral

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

Recital

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

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