And All The Rest
After 4 parts on my favorite categories of the 2016 Gramophone Award nominations, I discovered that I simply don’t have enough to say about most albums in the other categories, so I decided to lump all remaining categories (Baroque Instrumental, Choral, Contemporary, Early Music, Opera, Orchestral, Recital, Solo Vocal) into one big “super-post” and only write about the albums I really care about in this remaining sections.
So, here we go:
Masaaki Suzuki plays Bach Organ Works (BIS 2016)
I must admit, I bought this album initially because I finally wanted to have a well recorded modern version of the Toccata d-minor BWV565, probably Bach’s best known work even for lay people.
Well, that and the fact that I truly admire Masaaki’s efforts with the Bach Collegium Japan, and have pretty much his entire Cantata cycle. So I was curious to hear him as a soloist.
Well, I wasn’t disappointed. BIS can usually be trusted for recording quality, and this recording delivers (although has quite a bit of reverb from the Marinikerk in Groninen, so if you don’t like this, look elsewhere).
The good thing of this album is as well that once you go beyond the Toccata earworm, there is lots of beautiful music to discover. I don’t listen to organ very regularly, so this album pushes me in the right direction.
And Masaaki surely knows how to play. This album has received some controversial reviews, some like Diapason and obviously Gramophone love it, some critisize Suzuki takes too many liberties. Well, I’m certainly in the first camp.
My rating: 4 stars
WF Bach Keyboard Concertos – Maude Gratton (Mirare 2015)
I’ve reviewed this album previously and unfortunately, it still isn’t my cup of tea.
Biber: Rosary Sonatas – Rachel Podger (Channel Classics 2016)
Ah, Rachel Podger. I’m a big fan, and like pretty much everything she recorded, see also here.
Sometimes, even in the music world, there seem to be trends.
You barely heard about Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (to quote his full name) for years, and all over sudden, you get 3 recordings of the Rosary Sonatas in a row.
Not sure about the exact order, but we got Ariadne Daskalakis on BIS, Hélène Schmitt on Aeolus, and Rachel Podger in the space of about 12 months.
What’s even more difficult: all of the above are very good.
Nevertheless Podger has an edge over the two others in my ear due to the sheer beauty of the playing. Now, you could argue, is beauty the right approach for these works.
Well I’m not religious, but if Wikipedia is correct, the Mystery of the Rosaries are meditations on important moments in the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary. I personally would want these to be beautiful. The outstanding recording quality of Channel Classics in DSD only makes it more breathtaking.
My rating: 5 stars
In any case, check out the two others as well before buying.
So who will win in the category? Both Suzuki and Podger have made it into the final three, I’d expect a tight race here. I personally give the edge to Podger.
I recently bought Netrebko’s beautiful recording of Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and enjoyed it a lot, so I really need to check out the recording of Pique Dame that Gramophone recommends here by Mariss Jansons, but I haven’t done so yet, so will refrain from any comment at this stage.
The only album in the opera category I’ve heard (and own) is:
Verdi: Aidi – Antonio Pappano – Anja Harteros – Jonas Kaufmann (Warner 2015)
Well, no change to my previous five star rating (see the review here), and I wouldn’t be surprised if this album will also win. Like the Tchaikovsky mentioned above, it made it into the final three candidates.
I’m a bit surprised myself that I wasn’t able to write a dedicated blog post about the Orchestral category, but there are simply too many albums nominated from composers that I dont’ care enough about, often 20th century, from Casella, Dutilleux, Elgar, to Vaughan Williams.
So just a quick note about two albums in this section:
Schubert: Symphony No. 9 – Claudio Abbado – Orchestra Mozart
Going to be brief here, I love a lot of the stuff that Abbado did with his Orchestra Mozart, this isn’t my favorite. I’d much rather go with Dohnanyi as reviewed here.
And then there is Andris Nelson’s BSO recording of Shostakovich symphony no. 10. I don’t have that one yet, but really like his even more recent release of symphonies no. 5 and 9.
Given that I haven’t heard 90% of the albums in this category, predicting the winner is obviously preposterous. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Nelsons wins here.
I’ve only spent a decent amout of time with one album in this section, the excellent Weber Sisters.
A side note on the Ricercar Cavalli album, I skipped through it, but found the Christina Pluhar album released pretty much at the same time more exciting. I may need to revisit that though.
And I gave Jonas Kaufmann’s Nessun Dorma as a present to my mother-in-law, she’s a big Kaufmann fan, and I must admit, the album is really worth checking out.
Mozart and the Weber Sisters – Sabine Devieilhe – Raphael Pichon – Ensemble Pygmalion
I’ve already reviewed this album, with 5 stars.
And I keep going back to it over and over again.
This is again one of the rare birds of albums where Classica (Choc de l’année), Diapason (5 stars), Gramophone (Editor’s choice, Gramphone Award nominee), and Telerama (4F) all agree.
She is nominated among the final 3 contenders in this category, I really hope she wins!
So in summary: Podger’s Biber, Pappano’s Aida, and Devielhe’s Mozart are the must have albums for me here, with Suzuki’s organ works also highly recommended.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your opinions!
You can find the albums here: