NAXOSDIRECT WINNERS 2021

GRAMOPHONE CLASSICAL MUSIC AWARDS

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Image RECORDING OF THE YEAR
CATEGORY WINNER: OPERA

Britten Peter Grimes
Stuart Skelton (Grimes), Erin Wall (Ellen), Roderick Williams (Balstrode), Susan Bickley (Auntie), Catherine Wyn-Rogers (Mrs Sedley), Robert Murray (Bob Boles), James Gilchrist (Horace Adams), Marcus Farnsworth (Ned Keene); Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Choirs / Edward Gardner

‘The burly Aussie tenor is now even more identified with this ill-fated protagonist than Peter Pears, the first Grimes. And everywhere Skelton has sung the part, whether at English National Opera, the Proms, the Edinburgh festival or now on this international tour of a concert staging mounted by the Bergen Philharmonic, the conductor has been Edward Gardner. Theirs is one of the great musical partnerships, and they continue to find compelling new depths in this tragic masterpiece.’ – Richard Morrison – The Times. This studio recording was made following the acclaimed production at Grieghallen, in Bergen, in 2019 (repeated in Oslo and London and reviewed above). Luxuriant playing from the Bergen Philharmonic and a stellar cast under the assured direction of Edward Gardner make this a recording to treasure.

kr 318
Image SPECIAL AWARDS: ARTIST OF THE YEAR

JAMES EHNES
Lenke til flere CD med James Ehnes

Multi award-winning violinist James Ehnes recorded this album during lockdown at his home. Recording commenced in the early hours of the morning when all was quiet in the house. The solo violin, recorded in the small hours during these troubled times makes for a powerful and intimate listening experience.
Ysaÿe’s six sonatas for solo violin are, together with J.S Bach’s Sonatas & Partitas and the most important extended works for the solo violin. Ysaye composed each one of them with a particular violinist in mind, capturing their personality and characteristics of their playing. These sonatas represent the stylistic bridge between the old and the new, between tradition and improvisation, offering a glimpse into a “golden” era of fast evolving traditions of playing, of which Ysaÿe was one of the leading voices.

kr 159
Image Symphony No. 10

MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA
Lenke til flere CD med Minnesota Orchestra

Left unfinished at the death of the composer, Gustav Mahler's Tenth Symphony has exerted an enormous fascination on musicologists as well as musicians – a kind of Holy Grail of 20th-century music. Recognized as an intensely personal work, it was initially consigned to respectful oblivion, but over the years, Alma Mahler, the composer’s widow, released more and more of Mahler’s sketches for publication, and gradually it became clear that he had in fact bequeathed an entire five-movement symphony in short score (i.e. written on three or four staves). Of this, nearly half had reached the stage of a draft orchestration, while the rest contained indications of the intended instrumentation. Over the years a number of different completions or performing versions of ‘the Tenth’ have seen the light of day. One of the most often performed and recorded of these is that by Deryck Cooke. Cooke himself insisted that his edition was not a ‘completion’ of the work, but rather a functional presentation of the materials as Mahler left them. Cooke’s performing version of the symphony is the one that Osmo Vanska has chosen to use for the seventh installment in his and the Minnesota Orchestra’s Mahler series, a cycle characterized by an unusual transparency and clarity of sound as well as musical conception.

kr 169
Image CATEGORY WINNER: CHAMBER
Beach. Elgar Piano Quintets
Takács Quartet; Garrick Ohlsson

Amy Beach’s piano quintet proved a deservedly
popular success in its early years. It makes a
compelling—and surprising—match for Elgar’s
own piano quintet: a late work contemporary with
the cello concerto, and which inhabits the same
emotional landscape.

kr 169
Image CATEGORY WINNER: CONCERTO
Shostakovich Violin Concertos
Alina Ibragimova; State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia ‘Evgeny Svetlanov’ / Vladimir Jurowski

The prospect of hearing Alina Ibragimova in two of the most important concertos written for the
violin is in itself irresistibly enticing, but Shostakovich aficionados will also welcome an opportunity to hear the rarely performed original opening to the Burlesque of No 1, subsequently
made less fearsome for the soloist at the request of the work’s dedicatee, David Oistrakh.

kr 169
Image CATEGORY WINNER: CONTEMPORARY
Pickard The Gardener of Aleppo and other chamber works
Susan Bickley; Nash Ensemble / Martyn Brabbins

Four previous releases on BIS have all featured John Pickard’s music for large orchestra – or, in the case of the Gaia Symphony (BIS-2061), large brass band. This new album, on the other hand, presents scorings ranging from a solo oboe to a chamber ensemble of eight players. The seven works cover just over 30 years; the earliest one, Serenata Concertata, was Pickard’s first paid commission written at the age of twenty. In his liner notes, Pickard notes that he has an aversion to repeating himself: ‘so each new work tends to be a reaction against the character, structure and technique of the previous one… The result has been a body of work with a wide expressive range and this disc gives some indication of that. The pieces on it are grouped in a broad progression from the serious to the more lighthearted.’ The two opening works are indeed inspired by serious matters – the background to The Gardener of Aleppo is the war in Syria, while Daughters of Zion, the only vocal work on the album, sets a text that reflects on anti-Jewish aspects of certain early Christian celebrations. In the latter work, Susan Bickley joins the players of the celebrated Nash Ensemble, who go on to lighter fare in Three Chicken Studies (Pickard himself has kept chickens as pets) and Ghost Train, a perpetuum mobile built on a cantus firmus derived from the Dies iræ theme. For this and the other chamber ensemble pieces the conductor Martyn Brabbins, a longtime collaborator of Pickard’s, wields his baton.

kr 169
Image CATEGORY WINNER: EARLY MUSIC
Josquin Masses
Hercules Dux Ferrarie, D'ung aultre amer & Missa Faysant regretz

The Tallis Scholars / Peter Phillips

‘With this ninth and final release in our Josquin Mass cycle we come to three of his greatest works. Although all three Masses come roughly from his early middle age, together they form a perfect showcase for a genius who felt challenged to make each setting different.’ Peter Phillips
The Tallis Scholars’ Josquin Mass cycle may have spanned the longest period of any project in the history of recorded music, with over 33 years having elapsed between the first album in the series which won the Gramophone Record of the Year Award in 1987 and this final instalment.

kr 169
Image CATEGORY WINNER: INSTRUMENTAL
Bach Lute Suites
Sean Shibe

Three years as a Delphian artist have seen Sean Shibe record music from seventeenth-century Scottish lute manuscripts to twenty-first-century works for electric guitar, picking up multiple editor’s choices and award nominations for each release, as well as the Royal Philharmonic Society’s prestigious Young Artist of the Year accolade. Now he turns to the music of J. S. Bach, with three works whose obscure early performance history belies their status as repertoire staples for modern guitarists. The musicological questions that have arisen over what instrument Bach intended for these works – questions encapsulated for Shibe by the phrase ‘pour la luth ò cembal’, which appears in the composer’s hand at the head of the manuscript of the Prelude to BWV 998 – are here answered by the unshakeable assurance of Shibe’s performances.

kr 159
Image SPECIAL AWARDS: CONCEPT ALBUM
Christian-Pierre La Marca here presents baroque pieces (for viola da gamba) as well as modern and futuristic music in a highly personal, patterned reflection that is radically innovatory for the instrument and its repertoire, stimulating for the performer and fascinating for the listener. In this cleverly devised sequence, pieces by Marais, Purcell, Telemann, Sainte-Colombe, Dowland and Rameau interact with Grieg, Chaplin, Dutilleux, Escaich, Ligeti, Casals, the Beatles and Sollima, interwoven with electronic music realized by electrocreatives Rayann and M.A.S. during the March 2020 lockdown.
As la Marca confides: I really like the cross-cultural, multi-genre aspect of this CD: I love going from one musical style to another, creating links that did not previously exist, so as to reveal the infinite possibilities of the instrument.

kr 159
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