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 Awards, Gramophone Awards 2019 - the top three in each category

Gramophone Shortlist 2019The top three recordings in each category for the 2019 Gramophone Awards have been announced this morning. The ten category-winners will be revealed on 1st October, and the ceremony itself will take place on 16th October at the Connaught Rooms in London - details of special prizes including Artist and Recording of the Year will be unveiled on the night...

Chamber

'The performances are all superbly judged and controlled, balancing fragility with strength, restraint with great depth of feeling…This is a major cycle, engaging and profound in equal measure, and you need to hear it.'

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

Isabelle Faust (violin), Alexander Melnikov (piano), Tanguy de Williencourt (piano), Magali Mosnier (flute), Antoine Tamestit viola), Xavier de Maistre (harp), Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello), Javier Perianes (piano)

'Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov’s account of the Violin Sonata, Debussy’s last completed score, embraces exquisite fragility and strength in equal measure...Listen to [the album] in a single sitting, and in the right playing order: it’s extraordinarily moving.'

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

Alina Ibragimova (violin), Cédric Tiberghien (piano)

'Superb playing and ravishing engineering intertwine here to stunning effect...It serves as a reminder that you don’t necessarily need period instruments to bring a lightness and air-filled delineation to these densely textured late-Romantic works.'

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

Choral

Vox Luminis & Ensemble Masques, Lionel Meunier

'This is music of expressive variety and flexibility, ideally suited to the skills of Vox Luminis...They do not disappoint, charting the emotional contours of Buxtehude’s music with exquisite understanding and demonstrating their now familiar deep but lucid choral blend, out of which expertly executed solos emerge and return.'

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

Collegium Vocale Gent, Philippe Herreweghe

'Over 30 years later, Herreweghe’s radical rethinking yields shaded flexibility and kaleidoscopic dynamism...There is a spirit of collective chamber music-making from all participants that is classy, articulate and unerringly beguiling. Recordings of the 1610 Vespers are two-a-penny but very few have delighted and impressed me as much as this.'

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

Gabrieli Consort, Paul McCreesh

'The vogue for pairing Renaissance and contemporary choral works is well established but this is a programme that draws the dialogue between the two repertories into fresh animation...McCreesh’s ear for a contemporary classic is unerring.'

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

Concerto

Leila Josefowicz (violin), St. Louis Symphony, David Robertson

'The 2018 Josefowicz vintage certainly brings with it a depth and maturation that can only be achieved through 20 years of living and breathing a work now performed by the violinist more than 100 times.'

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

Kirill Gerstein (piano), Boston Symphony Orchestra, Men of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, Sakari Oramo

'Gerstein and Oramo are impressive in their focus throughout the work’s opening movement, and the whirl forwards towards its close has a tremendous power to it…Anyone who loves the Busoni Concerto will want to add this to their shelves.'

Available Format: CD

Bertrand Chamayou (piano), Orchestre National de France, Emmanuel Krivine

'I would go as far as placing Chamayou and Krivine at or near the top of the myriad recordings [of No. 2] currently available...The finale zips along with exemplary clarity – listen to the precision of those trills! – and ends in spine-tingling exultation...The Egyptian Concerto (No 5) is hardly less successful.'

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

Contemporary

Audrey Luna, Amanda Echalaz, Sally Matthews, Sophie Bevan, Alice Coote, Christine Rice, Iestyn Davies, Joseph Kaiser, Frédéric Antoun, David Portillo, Rod Gilfry, John Tomlinson; Metropolitan Opera, Thomas Adès, Gary Halvorson

'The most enjoyable moments are those in which this unwieldy tapestry focuses itself on a single point…And nobody films this stuff as imaginatively as the Met’s team led by Gary Halvorsen…[Adès’s] presence suggests that is anyone can come near to taming the beast, it’s the man who spawned it.

Available Format: DVD Video

Audrey Luna, Amanda Echalaz, Sally Matthews, Sophie Bevan, Alice Coote, Christine Rice, Iestyn Davies, Joseph Kaiser, Frédéric Antoun, David Portillo, Rod Gilfry, John Tomlinson; Metropolitan Opera, Thomas Adès, Gary Halvorson

Sound Format: Stereo PCM 2.0 & DTS 5.1

Available Format: Blu-ray

Susan Bickley (mezzo), London Sinfonietta, BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Oliver Knussen

'This pair of live performance radiates the clarity and conviction [Knussen] brought to the most challenging contemporary scores, and the subtle balances and rich colours of the music are beautifully caught in these recordings.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC

Allan Clayton (Hamlet), Sarah Connolly (Gertrude), Barbara Hannigan (Ophelia), Rod Gilfry (Claudius), Kim Begley (Polonius), John Tomlinson (Ghost/Grave-Digger/Player-King), Jacques Imbrailo (Horatio); London Philharmonic Orchestra, The Glyndebourne Chorus, Vladimir Jurowski

'Dean’s score succeeds through rampant imagination and simple wisdom…[Clayton’s] portrayal of Hamlet’s decline would be noteworthy even without singing that is full of expressive meaning and always imbued with stringent beauty even in rage…Armfield’s production looks regally beautiful to begin with and is filled with reaction to details in the score.'

Available Format: DVD Video

Allan Clayton (Hamlet), Sarah Connolly (Gertrude), Barbara Hannigan (Ophelia), Rod Gilfry (Claudius), Kim Begley (Polonius), John Tomlinson (Ghost/Grave-Digger), Jacques Imbrailo (Horatio); London Philharmonic Orchestra, Glyndebourne Chorus, Vladimir Jurowski

LPCM 2.0 DTS-HD 5.1

Available Format: Blu-ray

Early Music

'This is the first recording by Cupertinos for Hyperion and it is a pleasure to have a Portuguese ensemble tackle its native repertory. The sound is bright and privileges the higher voices, the lower ones being light baritones rather than basses.'

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

The Orlando Consort

'The Orlandos are so experienced in this repertory that, nearly always, the choice of tempo and tone is spot-on (and tempo is perhaps the most important decision, given that absolute tempos are never indicated), which maximises the music’s communicative potential and more than compensates for the occasional vocal blemish.'

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

Les Cris de Paris, Geoffroy Jourdain

'The singers make a beautifully balanced sound with impressive fluency across each style...there is a pleasing tension between a consort blend and the vital quirkiness of individual voices...To bastardise Victor Hugo, never was there such pleasure in being sad.'

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

Instrumental

Giuliano Carmignola (violin)

'It was Giuliano Carmignola’s agile use of Emilio Slaviero’s 2007 bow that really grabbed my attention...how inspiring to at last have access to a period recording of Bach’s solo violin works that is on the same exalted interpretative level as the masters of yore.'

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

'She never loses her head, and her colours are original without being wilful…[In the Ligeti] Wang offers a tour de force of quasi-orchestral detail…Anyone hitherto more put off than drawn in by Yuja Wang’s glamorous image may have to do some rethinking in the light of this recital.'

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

Igor Levit (piano)

'The way Levit has formed this programme is extraordinarily effective. The Brahms reworking for left hand of Bach’s D minor violin Chaconne is a probing, introverted affair...This is a fascinating, compelling set that demands to be heard.'

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

Opera

Gerald Finley (Robert Oppenheimer), Julia Bullock (Kitty Oppenheimer), Brindley Sherratt (Edward Teller), Samuel Sakker (James Nolan), Andrew Staples (Robert Wilson), Jennifer Johnston (Pasqualita); BBC Singers, BBC Symphony Orchestra, John Adam

'Finley is imperious once more as Oppenheimer...Razor sharp from beginning to end, the orchestra remain highly responsive to the work’s often complex polyrhythmic patterns and pulsations, with tempo and pacing perfectly judged under the composer’s own direction.'

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

Véronique Gens, Cyrille Dubois, Étienne Dupuis; Flemish Radio Choir & Orchestre de chambre de Paris, Hervé Niquet

'The Palazzetto Bru Zane has done Halévy’s reputation an enormous service...Gens, in superb voice, is dramatically convincing throughout...Cyrille Dubois is equally magnificent as Gérard… Chorus, orchestra and Hervé Niquet’s conducting are exemplary. An absolutely thrilling recording.'

Available Formats: 2 CDs + Book, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Albina Shagimuratova (Semiramide), Daniela Barcellona (Arsace), Mirco Palazzi (Assur), Barry Banks (Idreno); Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment & Opera Rara Chorus, Sir Mark Elder

'This is an intensely theatrical performance, yet there is no rush in the larger shaping of the piece…And what a difference the old instruments make.'

Available Formats: 4 CDs, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Orchestral

Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Sir Antonio Pappano

'These performances come at us with a theatricality that puts them firmly ‘on stage’ where they belong...Pappano’s knowledge of, and seeming instinct for, Bernstein’s sound world, rhythms and references, is hugely engaging – an excellent modern way of marking the composer’s centenary.'

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

Anu Komsi (soprano), Vienna Philharmonic, Sakari Oramo

'Oramo and the Vienna Philharmonic [take] on two contrasted works by Rued Langgaard that illuminate this composer in all his stylistic diversity and recklessness...A mandatory purchase for its interpretative insights, committed playing and tangibly realistic sound.'

Available Formats: SACD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC, Hi-Res+ FLAC

Gothenburg Symphony, Herbert Blomstedt

'This disc is special. Whether it’s the frisson of live performance or the fact that Blomstedt came to these scores late in life and is radiating the joy of discovery, I can’t say. What I do know is that whether you’re already smitten by this music or have yet to fall under its spell, you really should hear it.'

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

Recital

Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor), Artaserse

'If Handel’s Xerxes has a showmanship, an aesthetic swagger that Cavalli’s lacks, we see the Italian’s skill emerge elsewhere – in the delicacy with which he paints grief, loneliness and loss…Jaroussky too is at his best in these whispery, crooned laments where the voice treads the line between sound and silence.'

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

Jodie Devos (soprano), Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Laurent Campellone

'Devos delivers all that is required of her, and more, with the apparent ease of one who knows how important it is to conceal the difficulty...The real kicker with this album is the way in which number after number springs its surprises. The vocal pyrotechnics are artfully designed to make one’s jaw hit the floor.'

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

Elsa Dreisig (soprano), Orchestre national Montpellier Occitanie Pyrénées Méditerranée, Michael Schønwandt

'Now here’s a striking debut…[There Is] a pretty wide spectrum of characters on which to reflect…But Dreisig saves the real surprise for the end…the blood-drenched final scene from Strauss’s Salome. Or rather Salomé...Dreisig makes a most convincing case, with plenty of silvery steel as the debased teenager.'

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

Solo Vocal

Sophie Karthäuser (soprano), Stéphane Degout (baritone), Eugene Asti (piano), Alain Planès (piano)

'Karthäuser’s dewy soprano is light and fresh and she floats lines in ‘Le tombeau des naïades’ with ease. ‘Beau soir’ is almost sung on a half-breath, Degout is a signer of pure class…Two blissful hours from four winning advocates for Debussy.'

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

Christian Gerhaher (baritone), Gerold Huber (piano)

'The voice is still extraordinarily beautiful...In every bar you can sense the closeness of the partnership...Gerhaher and Huber achieve an almost alchemistic feat in making so much artistry feel so natural…This is an album to treasure and to savour – and to listen to again and again.'

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

Lucile Richardot (contralto), Ensemble Correspondances, Sébastien Daucé

'The title may be ‘Perpetual Night’ but there’s absolutely nothing gloomy or unremitting about this delicious disc and its chiaroscuro play of shading and texture…Lawes and Locke may never quite have Purcell’s pulling-power on a recording but that disparity has rarely sounded more misplaced than it does here.'

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