Awards - Gramophone Awards 2016: Winners

by Chris O'Reilly. 22nd August 2016

The category-winners of this year's Gramophone Awards have just been announced this morning: among those scooping an award are Antonio Pappano, the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Anja Harteros and Jonas Kaufmann for their glorious Aida on Warner Classics, Igor Levit for his triple-bill of piano variations (including Rzewski's The People United Will Never Be Defeated!) on Sony, and Andris Nelsons for his gripping account of Shostakovich's deeply personal Tenth Symphony with the Boston Symphony Orchestra on Deutsche Grammophon.

The overall Record of the Year will be announced on 15th September at the Awards Ceremony at St John's Smith Square, as will the Lifetime Achievement Award and other special prizes.

You can browse through all the winning discs below, and visit our Gramophone Awards special offer page here - until 24th October we're offering great discounts on all twelve titles.

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Baroque Instrumental

Biber: The Rosary Sonatas

Rachel Podger (violin)

"She can play with grace and beauty – at the opening of ‘The Carrying of the Cross’, for instance...There are also many subtleties of articulation and timing, almost as if there are words and pauses lying behind the notes."

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Baroque Vocal

Monteverdi Madrigali Volume 1: Cremona

Les Arts Florissants, Paul Agnew

"If a keen sense of the interpretative moment is the hallmark of ensemble performance at its best, then this new Monteverdi instalment from Les Arts Florissants deserves to be held up as such...One is torn between regret that there is to be only one further volume, and anticipation at what it might bring."

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Chamber

Tippett: String Quartets Nos. 1 - 5

Heath Quartet

"Caution is thrown to the winds most memorably in the Fourth Quartet, the cycle’s charged flashpoint. The Heaths maintain tension throughout, withholding arrival-points from this birth-to-life narrative...No one has dramatised the finale's palindrome, with a spooky hall of mirrored harmonics at its centre, with the poise of the Heaths. A tremendous achievement."

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Choral

Schoenberg: Gurrelieder

Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, Markus Stenz

"A profoundly musical performance of clarity and intelligence. Technically, too, it’s a formidable achievement...Excellent performances throughout from orchestra, soloists and choruses – rarely have the lush textures of Schoenberg’s late-Romantic cantata sounded this fresh."

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Concerto

Britten & Korngold: Violin Concertos

Vilde Frang (violin) Frankfurt Radio Symphony, James Gaffigan

"These are urgently communicative, potentially transformative accounts…played with almost intimidating dexterity and polish, not to mention impeccable intonation [Frang’s] music-making still manages to project an impression of honesty and naturalness."

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Contemporary

Hans Abrahamsen: Let me tell you

Barbara Hannigan (soprano), Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Andris Nelsons

"It is a richly theatrical journey...[Hannigan's] vehemence and passion suggest she thinks justice is finally being done to a woman who never did get much chance to tell her side of the story...The Danish composer’s sound world is a mass of glinting detail."

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Early Music

Western Wind: Music By John Taverner & Court Music For Henry VIII

Emily Van Evera (soprano), Charles Daniels (tenor), Taverner Choir & Players, Andrew Parrott

"The Western Wynde Mass nicely contrasts with The Tallis Scholars’ recording, being incisive and brisk where Peter Phillips’s reading is smoother and more leisurely. Parrott is perhaps more persuasive in conveying its pacing...the sound recording successively juggles a wide range of distributions, from harpsichord to choir."

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Instrumental

JS Bach, Beethoven, Rzewski: Variations

Igor Levit (piano)

"There is, if you care to rationalise, a Russian depth of sound and eloquence of phrasing, tempered by Germanic intellectual grasp...Levit’s musical personality is as integrated and mature as his technique. And both of these are placed at the service of the music’s glory rather than his own."

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Opera

Verdi: Aida

Anja Harteros, Jonas Kaufmann, Ekaterina Semenchuk, Ludovic Tezier, Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Roma, Antonio Pappano

"Harteros is arguably the most interesting Aida on record since Callas...Pappano goes one better [than Karajan], with orchestral playing of rare accomplishment from an Italian ensemble which is alive to the opera’s every word...as fine an all-round Aida as the gramophone has yet given us."

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Orchestral

Shostakovich Under Stalin's Shadow: Symphony No. 10

Boston Symphony Orchestra, Andris Nelsons

"Powerful and beautifully crafted, this recording – the first from the relationship between DG and the Boston Symphony under Nelsons – is a hugely impressive sign of just what this ensemble/maestro partnership may go on to achieve."

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Recital

Mozart: The Weber Sisters

Sabine Devieilhe (soprano), Pygmalion, Raphaël Pichon

"The programme centres around three magnificent showpiece arias for Aloysia...Among her specialities were sustained pianissimo high notes; and I can't imagine they were more delicately floated than they are by Sabine Devieilhe, a lyric coloratura who combines a pure, sweet timbre and dazzling virtuosity."

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Solo Vocal

Néère: Hahn, Duparc and Chausson

Véronique Gens (soprano) & Susan Manoff (piano)

"Gens, as one might expect, is exceptional in this repertoire. Most of the songs are about erotic anticipation and tristesse, and her dark, slightly smoky tone adds to the sensuality of it all. She sings as much off the text as the line, but nothing is nudged or forced in an overtly interventionist way."

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