International Classical Music Awards
Dame Felicity Lott is one of those rare singers who, on stage, create an immediate bond with the audience: her radiant personality and stage presence are rarely equalled. From intelligent and moving song performances to the rare subtlety and human depth of her Marschallin or the charming Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein, she has been since her debut in 1975 one of the most charismatic singers worldwide.
Known as Mr. Trombone – he has premiered over 300 new works for his instrument – Christian Lindberg has widened his activities to include conducting and composing. As a conductor he is an inquisitive and communicative musician. As a composer he made his name with some experimental works for his own instrument, yet expanded towards big orchestral pieces and concertos. His approach to music cannot be limited to certain styles or dogmas – for him the world is wide open.
Spanish cellist Pablo Ferrández combines a splendid technique with an insightful musicality. His refined playing can be warm and full of poetic lyricism or, when needed, impulsive and virtuosic, though he never loses the noble elegance that is one of the dominant characteristics of his charismatic personality.
At the age of 13, Nikolai Song is an incredibly gifted young musician. His playing amazed the jury with confidence, imagination and a rare mature depth. Warm and rich in tone, his immaculately weighted sound is full of limpid colour.
LABEL OF THE YEAR
harmonia mundi has long been among the most nominated labels at ICMA, being often a winner in various categories. Caring about a clear, well-defined sound, and working closely and continuously with a panel of renowned musicians, ICMA’s Label of the Year 2016 always has a steady number of high ranking releases embracing all periods of music history.
SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Palazzetto Bru Zane
Since 2009, the Palazzetto Bru Zane – Centre de musique romantique française has been rediscovering an otherwise forgotten repertoire: French music of 19th century, vocal, instrumental and symphonic. A serious musicological approach, combined with the cooperation of well-known musicians as well as very dedicated young artists, and the publication of high quality books and audio recordings, makes the Palazzetto Bru Zane into a model of a modern, open-minded ‘cultural factory’.
SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
This opulent box is a brilliant tribute to a singular artist. It shows not only Dinorah Varsi’s exceptional wide repertoire ranging from baroque to contemporary music, but also distinctive, sensitive and virtuosic piano playing with an unusual range of colours, and stylish as well as spontaneous ideas.
AUDIO & VIDEO CATEGORIES
Argentum et Aurum is a collection of works from the Early Renaissance. Ensemble Leones has come up with a good concept and gives a very lively, transparent and authentic performance of these tunes, originally sung by balladmongers. With an ear for authenticity, the musicians gathered around Marc Lewon take care to create a genuine sound, thus avoiding any artificiality.
Danish recorder player Michala Petri and Iranian-born harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani collaborate in the most appealing way to let the listener experience the beauty of Corelli’s sonatas. Petri’s singing sound is marvellous, and together with Esfahani she takes full advantage of the music’s opportunities for flexible phrasing and added embellishments. With an incomparable art of musical understanding and communication, this is chamber music at the highest possible level, showing the modernity and sustainability of baroque music.
In mostly unknown opera arias inspired by three different Agrippina characters, mezzo-soprano Ann Hallenberg shows enormous versatility: each Agrippina comes to life in her own way, with the appropriate feelings. Ann Hallenberg’s singing is technically stunning, and Il pomo d’Oro, conducted by Riccardo Minasi, adds vibrant colours and rhythmic vitality to this wonderful recording.
This album’s title might sound informal for a souvenir of the Wigmore Hall’s season-opening night, but it captures the atmosphere of the performances – at once informal and highly professional – of the dream-team of Joyce DiDonato and Antonio Pappano. Ranging from Haydn’s Arianna to The Wizard of Oz’s Dorothy, with rarities in between, the recording finds mezzo and pianist both very much artistically at home.
Summoning up a vast array of emotions and dramatic effects, Philippe Herreweghe shapes a gripping performance of Dvorak’s Requiem. Perfectly balanced, the excellent choir, the homogeneous soloists and the orchestra deliver exactly the sonorities that summon up the musical and spiritual worlds the composer had in mind.
Piotr Tchaikovsky: Iolanta
Olesya Golovneva, Alexander Vinogradov, Andrei Bondarenko, Dmytro Popov, Vladislav Sulimsky, John Heuzenroeder, Marc-Olivier Oetterli, Dalia Schaechter, Justyna Samborska, Marta Wryk
Choir of the Cologne Opera – Gürzenich Orchestra of Cologne
Oehms Classics OC963
Seldom is one able to hear such superb casting and exceptionally good singers, everyone being a top choice for their role. But the real hero is Dmitrij Kitajenko whose direction of this beautiful yet often neglected opera is magnificent. The Cologne forces respond wholeheartedly to his conducting and the recorded sound is great. Undoubtedly, this Iolanta is the ultimate reference recording of Tchaikovsky’s work.
Many years after recording all the composer’s sonatas, Andras Schiff rethinks, on an historical Brodmann fortepiano, his approach to Schubert, underlining the intimate, almost confidential side of his music. Irony, sadness, intensity and gravity: the many facets of Schubert piano music are to be found in one of the most personal and valuable contributions to the recent discography.
One of the most interesting duos in many years, Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov explore the richness of two late Brahms sonatas on period instruments and in an historical informed manner. Their most sensible and beautifully balanced sound also enriches the ‘F-A-E’ Sonata, a collaborative effort by three composers in honour of Joseph Joachim.
Russian Pianist Yevgeny Sudbin shows not only a great commitment and passion for two underrated works, but also finds his very personal and special approach. Together with the highly refined playing of the Bergen Philharmonic, Sudbin’s reading combines lucidity and profoundness, tension, a wide range of colours and, of course, technical perfection. His art provides a compellingly new view on these late romantic Russian piano concertos.
The Berlin Philharmonic’s Sibelius is characterized by the depth and power of a truly gorgeous orchestral playing. Simon Rattle’s reading is highly charged and dramatic, full of gripping contrasts, yet also provides sensual pleasure.
Krzysztof Penderecki: Clarinet Concerto, Flute Concerto
Concerto grosso for 3 Cellos and Orchestra
Michel Lethiec, Lukasz Dlugosz
Arto Noras, Bartosz Koziak, Rafal Kwiatkowski
The Polish Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra
Krzysztof Penderecki, one of today’s most important composers, conducts what he calls his ultimate recording of the flute and clarinet concertos as well as of the Concerto Grosso. With highly talented and committed soloists, one of the best Polish orchestras and an admirably clear and well balanced sound, the result is flawless.
Beyond the fact that Jordi Savall and his musicians provide a thrilling and evocative musical picture of a central period in Europe’s history, the presentation of this opulent book and CD is as sublime as it is informative, and makes this release a truly impressive document.
Lucerne Festival Historic Performances Vol. VIII
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2, Schumann: Piano Concerto
Annie Fischer, Leon Fleisher
Swiss Festival Orchestra, George Szell
Philharmonia Orchestra, Carlo Maria Giulini
This recording is an important and exceptionally beautiful piece of documentation in the history of the Lucerne Festival. Both the Hungarian and the American pianists play with great sensitivity and maximum respect towards the intentions of the composers. The performances are characterized by extreme concentration, humility and lyricism.
Riccardo Chailly is one of the most interesting interpreters of Gustav Mahler’s symphonic cosmos. His account of the Seventh Symphony shows a superior sense for the formal complexity and the significant contrasts of the work. The last movement tingles with energy and dynamism. Chailly seems to constantly remember that Mahler himself spoke about the ‘predominantly cheerful, humorous content’ of this Symphony. Taking great care over details and transparency, he also enables the marvellous Gewandhaus Orchestra to display the whole range of colours which make its sound so warm and full-blooded.
In his sober and intelligent manner, Christopher Nupen delivers a gripping portrait of one of the most talented and powerful young musicians of our time, Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov. With a significant, sensitively led conversation and some ravishing music from a concert in Castelfranco Veneto, both films on this videodisc bring us unusually close to the artist and help to fully sense the power as well as the charm of Daniil Trifonov’s creative personality.