Skip to main content

 Awards, Gramophone Awards 2019 - Recording of the Year

Gramophone Awards 2019I'm 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 11th September) are listed below, and you can also browse through the complete shortlist of finalists here.

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

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

The Recording of the Year prize has been awarded to French pianist Bertrand Chamayou for his accounts of two Saint-Saëns piano concertos (with the Orchestre National de France and Emmanuel Krivine) and an imaginative, exquisitely played selection of the composer's lesser-known short works for solo piano: 'I would go as far as placing Chamayou and Krivine at or near the top of the myriad recordings [of Concerto No. 2] currently available...his pianissimo-leggiero and jeu perlé playing are quite masterly.' (Jeremy Nicholas)

Bertrand spoke to Katherine about the recording last summer (just an hour, in fact, before making his Proms debut!) - you can read the interview here.

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

Young Artist of the Year - Jakub Józef Orliński

The Polish countertenor kicked off the year as Handel’s Rinaldo at Oper Frankfurt, and made a spectacular return to the role at Glyndebourne over the summer in the revival of Robert Carsen’s Saracens-and-schoolgirls production from 2011 – originally scheduled to sing Eustazio, Orliński stepped up to take over as the hero when mezzo Elizabeth DeShong withdrew a month before opening night, winning praise for his ‘conviction, control and lack of showiness’ (The Guardian) and ‘clean, plangent timbre’ (The Times). Orliński’s debut album on Warner Classics, Anima Sacra, won the Solo Vocal Recital category at this year’s Opus Klassik Awards, and its successor Facce d’amore is due for release on 8th November.

Jakub Józef Orliński's full discography is available here.

Artist of the Year - Víkingur Ólafsson

The Icelandic pianist also triumphed at the Opus Klassik Awards this year, taking the Solo Recital prize for his ‘fresh, expressive and joyous’ (The Sunday Times) album of Bach on Deutsche Grammophon; the disc also scooped Recording of the Year at the BBC Music Magazine Awards in April, with the jury commenting that ‘his articulation is pin-sharp, his dynamic and tonal control constant delights’. The album was only his second recording for the 'Yellow Label', following a remarkable debut recital of Philip Glass back in 2017 - you can read James's interview with him about the latter recording here.

You can view Víkingur Ólafsson's full discography here.

Lifetime Achievement Award - Dame Emma Kirkby

The doyenne of English early music sopranos, Kirkby began singing for pleasure as a Classics student at Oxford and originally had no intention of pursuing a career in music, beginning her working life as a schoolteacher; by the early 1970s, however, she was in high demand for historically-informed performance-projects and recordings at a time when the majority of college-trained sopranos were not cultivating a sound appropriate for early music instruments. Kirkby was made a Dame in 2007, and was awarded the Queen’s Medal for Music four years later. Her discography runs to over a hundred recordings, including the Gramophone Award-winning A Feather on the Breath of God with Gothic Voices, Belinda in Dido & Aeneas opposite Catherine Bott’s Dido, and Handel’s Messiah, Athalia, Orlando, Esther and Italian cantatas, all with Christopher Hogwood and The Academy of Ancient Music.

You can browse the full list of Dame Emma's currently available recordings here.

Label of the Year - Pentatone

The Netherlands-based label (founded 2001) has had an extremely strong year, with key releases including late Schubert Piano Sonatas from Francesco Piemontesi, Winterreise from Ian Bostridge and Thomas Adès, Grieg and Mendelssohn from Denis Kozhukhin, and two albums from new signing Magdalena Kožená - Il Giardino dei Sospiri with Collegium 1704 and Václav Luks, and Soirée, a programme of song-cycles with instruments which includes her husband Simon Rattle’s debut recording as a pianist. And there’s more to come, with a superb live recording of Weber’s Der Freischütz from Marek Janowski (with Lise Davidsen and Andreas Schager as Agathe and Max) due for release later this month.

Until 9th December 2019, we're offering up to 20% off all discs on Pentatone.

Special Achievement - Birgit Nilsson Foundation

Established by the great Swedish dramatic soprano towards the end of her career, the Stockholm-based Foundation makes an annual award of a million dollars to a performer or organisation for ‘outstanding achievement in opera and concert’ – in 2018, the prize was awarded to Nilsson's compatriot Nina Stemme, who described it as ‘a great honour to be recognised in my home country by a world-renowned organization that bears the name and carries the legacy of a legend’. The three previous winners were Plácido Domingo (who was chosen by Nilsson herself), Riccardo Muti and the Wiener Philharmoniker. The Foundation also mounted a year-long celebration of Nilsson last year to mark the centenary of her birth.

A number of special releases were produced in collaboration with the Foundation to commemorate the centennial of Nilsson's birth, including a luxurious hardback book Birgit Nilsson 100: A Homage.

Concept Album of the Year - Sean Shibe's softLOUD

The young Scottish guitarist’s second solo album (which was shortlisted for a BBC Music Magazine Award this year) was described as ‘the most eloquent musical scream on record’ by The Scottish Review of Books, and juxtaposes seventeenth-century lute music with works by James MacMillan, Steve Reich, David Lang and Julia Wolfe. You can read Katherine's interview with Sean (which coincidentally took place immediately before last year's Gramophone Awards!) here.

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

Category Winners


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)

'Listen to it in a single sitting, and in the right playing order: it’s extraordinarily moving.' (Tim Ashley, November 2018 issue)

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


Vox Luminis & Ensemble Masques, Lionel Meunier

‘Perfectly balanced and beautifully recorded, this is another outstanding release from Lionel Meunier and his team.’ (Lindsay Kemp, September 2018 issue)

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

‘Screen viewing allows for total focus on an astonishing central performance from Allan Clayton. His 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.’ (Andrew Mellor, Awards Issue 2018)

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), David Butt Philip (Laertes); 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.’ (Fabrice Fitch, January 2019 issue)

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


Yuja Wang (piano)

‘The three Ligeti Études are supreme tests of pianistic colouring as well as intellectual agility, and here too Wang offers a tour de force of quasi-orchestral detail.’ (David Fanning, December 2018 issue)

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


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

‘Chorus, orchestra and Hervé Niquet’s conducting are exemplary. An absolutely thrilling recording.’ (Richard Lawrence, September 2018 issue)

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


Anu Komsi (soprano), Vienna Philharmonic, Sakari Oramo

‘A mandatory purchase for its interpretative insights, committed playing and tangibly realistic sound.' (Richard Whitehouse, November 2018 issue)

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


Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor), Artaserse

‘Jaroussky is at his best in these whispery, crooned laments where the voice treads the line between sound and silence.’ (Alexandra Coghlan, April 2019 issue)

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

Solo Vocal

Christian Gerhaher (baritone), Gerold Huber (piano)

‘Despite the constant self-reflection, their approach never – to my ears at least – comes close to self-indulgence. With excellent sound from Sony, this is an album to treasure and to savour – and to listen to again and again.’ (Hugo Shirley, February 2019 issue)

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