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 Awards, International Classical Music Awards 2021

ICMA 2021The results of the eleventh International Classical Music Awards were revealed this morning, with the Berliner Philharmoniker's own in-house label being named as Label of the Year, Artist of the Year going to Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, Turkish pianist Can Çakmur scooping Young Artist of the Year, and coloratura soprano Edita Gruberova (who announced her retirement in September after five decades on stage) winning the Lifetime Achievement Award. You can read full details here, and view the winners of each recording category below

Early Music

Ensemble Huelgas, Paul Van Nevel

'A living legend of early music, Paul Van Nevel together with his Huelgas Ensemble help us rediscover the scores of Simone de Bonefont, a major release published by the Belgian label Cyprès.'

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

Baroque Instrumental

Chouchane Siranossian (violin), Venice Baroque Orchestra, Andrea Marcon

'Siranossian’s playing is characterized by great naturalness – a quality that has become very rare among modern baroque violinists – without ever degenerating into casualness. Andrea Marcon and the Venice Baroque Orchestra are very inspired partners for the soloist, providing a supple and expressive accompaniment.'

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

Ensemble Diderot, Johannes Pramsohler

'After focusing on composers from Dresden, Paris and London, they take a look here at Trio Sonatas by such masters as Graun, Kirnberger, Benda or Schulz. Their interpretations harmoniously combine poetry, reflection and virtuosity, and captivate with their wide palette of colours and shades. These intimate performances emphasise the music’s melodic beauty.'

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

Baroque Vocal

Sophie Junker (soprano), Le Concert de l'Hostel Dieu, Franck-Emmanuel Comte

'The Belgian soprano Sophie Junker astounds with the skill with which she delivers a very virtuosic vocal writing, thanks to total mastery of languages – Italian and English – and the ability to make every technical device an expressive factor. All in all, one of the finest examples of baroque singing in recent years.'

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

Vocal Music

Ermonela Jaho (soprano), Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana, Andrea Battistoni

'Her charisma and ability to trigger goosebumps and emotional sympathy in the listener distinguishes her outstanding singing, which benefits from a very characteristic and recognisable timbre. Her consistently warm and powerful voice is projected evenly over the whole range of the soprano registers and is capable of all the necessary dynamic and colourful nuances required.'

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

Choral Music

Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Ivan Repušić

'The Glagolitic Requiem marries Glagolitic melismas with the architecture and form of the Latin Requiem. The recording allows us not only to discover a truly outstanding work but also to hear this music in a sensitive, gripping interpretation. The conductor Ivan Repusic is well supported by good soloists, the excellent choir of the Bavarian Radio and the very committed Munich Radio Orchestra.'

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


Jodie Devos (Rosa), Tassis Christoyannis (Spiridion), Hélène Guilmette (Hélène), Edgaras Montvidas (Conrad), Yu Shao (Benedict); Les Siècles, Accentus, François-Xavier Roth

'The opera begins with a 12-minute long, dramatic and musically very attractive overture and contains wonderful arias, scenes and choruses, which are shown to their best advantage in the gripping, lively interpretation by François-Xavier Roth at the helm of his own deeply committed orchestra Les Siècles. The cast is exceptional and among the singers is Jodie Devos, Young Artist 2015 of the International Classical Music Awards.'

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

Solo Instrumental

'Probably the finest Italian piano talent since Maurizio Pollini, in this recording dedicated to Ravel and Stravinsky she impresses not only with her dazzling virtuosity but also with her maturity in a repertoire that is so well known and yet so difficult to deliver convincingly.'

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

Chamber Music

Franziska Pietsch (violin), Josu De Solaun (piano)

'From La Belle Époque to the years of World War II, the violin sonatas on this CD reflect the moods and whims of fast-changing times. Franziska Pietsch and Josu de Solaun explore the undercurrents of Fauré’s bitter-sweet romanticism, let Ravel’s colours sparkle, and enjoy their ride through Poulenc’s frenzy. They bring a fresh sense of boldness and eloquence to well-known pieces.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC


Alban Gerhardt (cello), WDR Sinfonieorchester, Jukka-Pekka Saraste

'Gerhardt’s expressive readings combine masterful playing with tone that ranges from the feverish to the roughened, the slim and sometimes sharp-edged. Without eccentric gestures, his fluent, colourful playing bring rarely heard intensity to the composer’s dark-shaded soundworld.'

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

Symphonic Music

Berliner Philharmoniker, Kirill Petrenko

'In a phenomenal performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, Kirill Petrenko fights, so to speak, for every note, for every phrase, illuminating the work completely. The Ninth pulsates with incredibly sonorous rhetoric, the apotheosis being a twenty-one and a half minute long state of happiness and joy.'

Available Formats: 5 CDs + 1 Blu-ray Audio + 1 Blu-ray Video, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Contemporary Music

Kirill Gerstein (piano), Thomas Adès (piano/conductor), Tanglewood Music Centre Orchestra

'This programme combines the different aspects of [Adès's] creative nature, evoking Schubert and tango, the salon elegance of mazurkas (though translated into a contemporary language), and the flickering of stars. This unusual set, enriched by the brilliant pianist Kirill Gerstein and musicians of the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, is a most glamorous showcase for the work of this English composer and of contemporary music in general.'

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

Assorted Program

Kristian Bezuidenhout (fortepiano), Freiburger Barockorchester, Pablo Heras-Casado

'Bezuidenhout brings joy, finesse and lyricism to this often-recorded piece of Beethoven, and his interpretation is so fresh and sounds so authentic that one can’t help feeling that the listener is being beamed up to the Vienna of Beethoven’s era...The orchestra under the baton of Pablo Heras-Casado is very receptive, energetic and dynamic, and proves itself to be a first-rate authentic ensemble.'

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

Historical Recordings

Emil Gilels (piano), Sviatoslav Richter (piano), Tatjana Nikolayeva (piano), Dmitri Shostakovich (piano)

'Nobody plays Shostakovich like Shostakovich – obviously. But then, there’s Emil Gilels and his unique view on Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes and Fugues, as well as Tatiana Nikolayeva, who performed their premiere. And, of course, Svjatoslav Richter with his much-loved interpretations. This CD box brings them all together and reminds the Shostakovich-loving audience that there’s nothing like authenticity.'

Available Formats: 5 CDs, MP3, FLAC

Video Performance

Denis Matsuev (piano), Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Riccardo Chailly

'In this live recording of Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto, Denis Matsuev’s playing is both soulful and brilliant. Riccardo Chailly’s reading is detailed and extremely colourful. Rachmaninov’s Third Symphony, though composed on Lake Lucerne, is deeply Russian, and Chailly expresses this well...But what ultimately really distinguishes this performance is the magnificent, phenomenal playing of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra.'

Also available on Blu-ray.

Available Format: DVD Video

Stéphane Degout (Hamlet), Sabine Devieilhe (Ophélie), Laurent Alvaro (Claudius), Sylvie Brunet-Grupposo (Gertrude), Nicolas Legoux (Polonius), Julien Behr (Laërte); Orchestre des Champs-Elysées, Choeur Les Eléments, Louis Langrée, Cyril Teste

'Unjustly labelled by Debussy’s famous joke ("I know three kinds of music: the good, the bad and Thomas’s"), the French composer’s music returns to the stage with a production of his masterpiece, Hamlet, which fascinated the audience thanks to Louis Langrée’s sensitive conducting, Cyril Teste’s intelligently modern direction and, above all, the magnificent singing and theatrical intensity of Stéphane Degout and Sabine Devieilhe: a real redemption for poor Ambroise Thomas!'

Also available on Blu-ray.

Available Format: DVD Video

Video Documentary

A film by Martin Mirabel

'The camera follows the young musician during concerts, recordings and even walks, capturing his original and paradoxical judgments about art, revealing his complete immersion in what makes up the meaning of his life. The jury appreciates both the stylishly-made visual component of the film and the special way of filming, which combines a news-reel manner with great focus on the details. It reveals the creative personality of an artist who may become one of the greatest musicians of the 21st century.'

Also available on Blu-ray.

Available Format: DVD Video