I just noticed I completely forgot to even mention this section in my previous posts, don’t know what happened here. Well, anyhow, here’s the winner. I haven’t heard it, so no comment from my side.
As written here, I’d have voted for Trifonov, but the Gramophone Jury liked Vilde Frang’s Britten and Korngold better. Congrats to Mrs Frang, and I’ll leave it at this, given that this album doesn’t really speak to me.
I didn’t write about this section at all as I’m not really qualified, however, I must admit the winner looks interesting enough that I’ll check it out in more detail:
Again a section I completely ignored in my posts.
I’ll take time to check this out formally, looks certainly interesting
Yes, she did it! As I was hoping, Sabine Devieilhe wins in her category. Couldn’t agree more!!!!
This is another section I completely skipped in my blog post.
For reference, here’s the winning album:
I really like Véronique Gens, but had only very briefly sampled this album, I’ll make sure to give it a proper listen now.
Let me virtually brag a bit (sorry!) and say that my crystal ball did a pretty good job this year. Out of 8 categories I wrote about, I got 5 “right”. Not a bad score (insert smiley here). OK, bragging mode off again.
I just checked, and my last entry dates back more than a month ago. Shame on me. Lots of reasons, too much travel, too busy, too whatever. Who cares, let’s get back to it, shall we?
Although I’ve recently had quite a number of disagreements with reviews by this venerable magazine, it probably remains the most important source for the entire classical music industry, and winning a Gramophone Award is rather prestigious.
I’ve already started reflecting about them last year, which generated some really interesting discussions here and elsewhere (plus lead me to discover David Watkin’s outstanding Cello Suites), so let’s have a look at who has been nominated this year.
If you want to do the same, best is to get our your tablet, get the Gramophone App, and get the Gramophone Awards issue for free.
As last year, I have no ambition to be exhaustive, I’m just giving my 2 cents on a number of albums that I’ve heard as well.
Concerto is usually my favorite category, and the one where I’ve heard the largest number of the recordings.
We have 8 albums nominated this year, 5 of which I’ve heard and can comment on.
Brahms Violin Concerto x 2
We start with two versions of Brahms violin concerto, one coupled with Bartok, the other one with Brahms’ own String Quintet No. 2.
The first one is the new Janine Jansen recording, which I’ve reviewed here. I still fully stand by the 5 stars I’ve given there, and this is an album absolutely worth having in spite of heavy competition.
The second Brahms recording is with the less known German violinist Antje Weithaas, with the Camerata Bern.
I must admit I didn’t expect a lot, as I was pretty disappointed by the recording of Bach’s keyboard concertos with the Camerata Bern (2010 on Universal).
Well, I was positively surprised, up to a point. To be clear: Weithaas really plays exceptionally well.
However, the Camerata Bern is unfortunately no match for Pappano’s Santa Cecilia. They are really the limiting factor on this recording, which becomes especially apparent in the highly energetic third movement.
The string quintet is ok, but a bit heavy. Overall, I’d probably give this 3 stars.
Beethoven’s piano concertos x 2
The next two albums aren’t albums, but DVDs. I don’t have a DVD/Blueray player, and so have no way of reviewing these.
DVD no. 1 is Maria Joao Pires with Frans Brüggen playing Beethoven’s concerto no. 3.
There is a snippet on Youtube, and I wasn’t particularly impressed, but one shouldn’t judge from 39 seconds.
The other DVD, also from Warsaw, again with Frans Brüggen, has one of my absolute piano godesses on the piano, the mighty Martha Argerich.
Here’s the 40 second Youtube snippet:
This is already more to my taste. But again, you simply cannot judge a recording on 40 seconds.
Britten & Korngold by Vilde Frang
I’m a big Vilde Frang fan, her Sibelius is one of my all time favorites, see here.
Unfortunately, the music on this album really isn’t getting me excited, so I’m not qualified enough to comment about the interpretation.
I must admit I wouldn’t even know Korngold if it weren’t for some old Heifetz albums, and even here, his music that would at moments be rather fitting for the next Star Wars soundtrack doesn’t inspire me very much. OK to listen to once or twice, but nothing I’d consider purchasing.
I can comment even less on the Britten. There is unfortunately only one English composer I really love, Henry Purcell, everything after just isn’t for me.
Rachmaninov by Trifonov
Now we’re getting back into my home turf (not physically, obviously, I’m not Russian), but musically speaking.
This is an album I should have reviewed a long time ago, as it is a true 5 star recording.
We start with Nézét-Séguin, who here again is in top form, and with the Paganini Variations. Already an exceptional start.
However, this album shouldn’t actually be in the “Orchestral” section, as the entire rest of the 1:18 are all solo piano.
We’re talking about the Variations On A Theme Of Chopin, Op.22, the Variations On A Theme Of Corelli, Op.42, and some Rachmaniana pieces by Trifonov himself.
The Corelli’s are already great, but my absolute favorite here are the quite rarely played Chopin variations. Amazing, you really get the best of both worlds here, the melodical genius of Chopin together with the romantic virtuoso of Rachmaninov. Absolutely worth having.
My rating: 5 stars
So, my take home messages (or albums) are clearly Jansen and Trifonov. Both are absolutely worth having.
And my prediction for the Gramophone Award winner? The Trifonov.
What do you think? Let me hear!
Update August 18,2016: Gramophone has released the three finalists for the category: Pires’ Beethoven, Frang’s Britten, and Trifonov’s Rachmaninov. So my prediction above (written previously) could still come true.