Recording of the Week Vox Luminis’s Schütz disc wins Gramophone Record of the Year
This year’s Gramophone Awards took place last Thursday at London’s Dorchester Hotel. As usual it was an excellent day, and this year included live performances from Benjamin Grosvenor, Danielle de Niese and Leif Ove Andsnes. However, the big winner this year, scooping the coveted Record of the Year, was the largely unknown Belgian early music group Vox Luminis under the direction of Lionel Meunier for their disc of Heinrich Schütz’s Musikalische Exequien on the Ricercar label.
The work was written for, and first performed at, the funeral of Prince Heinrich Posthumus von Reuss in 1636. He was a personal friend of the composer and the sincerity of Schütz’s setting is clearly apparent. The work is preceded on the disc by other funeral motets and chorales by Schütz and others, setting the stage for the impact of the funeral rite itself, and echoing the order of an actual Lutheran service.
Meunier (who also sings bass in the ensemble) uses just two voices per part, so the contrast between the solos and the ‘tuttis’ isn’t significant, but there is evidence that this is what the composer had in mind, as there is also for the continuo being realised by just chamber organ and bass viol as it is here. In many ways it is a very simple approach – minimum forces, and singing with a purity of tone and spot on intonation, giving a well balanced and perfectly blended sound – but the result is incredibly persuasive and very moving.
Gramophone sums up this recording as follows:
“Impeccably performed, recorded and presented, this extraordinary release of Schütz’s masterpiece embodies everything a Recording of the Year should be.”
Full details, including sound samples and a short video, are via the links below.
Other notable winners at this year’s awards were Benjamin Grosvenor, who picked up both the Instrumental Award for his disc of Chopin, Liszt and Ravel, and the Young Artist of the Year; and Claudio Abbado who picked up the Lifetime Achievement Award as well as featuring on no less than three of the fifteen category winners! – his Bruckner 5 with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra picked up the DVD performance of the year, his Fidelio with Nina Stemme and Jonas Kaufmann won the Opera Award, and he accompanied violinist Isabelle Faust on her disc of Beethoven and Berg which captured the Concerto category.
We’ve set up a special Gramophone Awards page which lists full details of all the winners including all the special awards and the other finalists. Also worth mentioning though is that we’ve managed to negotiate special prices on the Disc of the Year and indeed all the other category winners and with discounts in some cases up to 40%, it is well worth a look! All these are available to browse on our Gramophone Awards Winners Special Offer page.
Masato Suzuki (organ), Vox Luminis, Lionel Meunier
Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC