August 22, 2016

Gramophone Awards: Antonio Pappano, Vilde Frang & Sabine Devieilhe among winners

Warner Classics and Erato Artists claim the coveted prizes for Best Concerto, Best Recital and Best Opera.

The winners of the 2016 Gramophone Classical Music Awards have been revealed, with Warner Classics and Erato recordings claiming prizes in three of the twelve categories.

The coveted Best Opera award this year goes to Warner Classics' widely acclaimed studio recording of Verdi's Aïda conducted in Rome by Sir Antonio Pappano, with an all-star cast (Anja Harteros, Jonas Kaufmann, Ludovic Tézier, Erwin Schrott, Ekaterina Semenchuk) and the Orchestra e Coro dell'Accademia di Santa Cecilia.

Gramophone praised the "orchestral playing of rare accomplishment from an Italian ensemble which is alive to the opera’s every word," while hailing soprano Anja Harteros "the most interesting Aida on record since Callas."

Norwegian star violinist Vilde Frang was up against stiff competition including Janine Jansen, Daniil Trifonov and Maria João Pires but came out on top for the Best Concerto Recording with her deeply personal, intense readings of Britten and Korngold Violin Concertos. The Gramophone critics were captivated by this "exciting player" and her "urgently communicative, potentially transformative accounts" of these two twentieth-century masterpieces.

"Playing with almost intimidating dexterity and polish, not to mention impeccable intonation (it comes as no surprise to discover that Anne-Sophie Mutter was an early mentor), her music-making still manages to project an impression of honesty and naturalness."

Young French soprano Sabine Devieilhe's star has well and truly risen with her second album for Erato, The Weber Sisters, which wins Best Recital exploring the arias Mozart wrote for three opera-singer sisters - his first love, his wife, and the first Queen of the Night. Devieilhe portrays these three 'characters' with effortless grace and thrilling highs.

"The programme centres around three magnificent showpiece arias for Aloysia, famed both for her expressive cantabile and her coloratura prowess," explained the Gramophone critic. "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."

Both Vilde Frang and Sir Antonio Pappano are in the running for the Artist of the Year award, which will be announced - along with the winners of Recording of the Year, Young Artist of the Year, Lifetime Achievement and Label of the Year - during the awards ceremony at London's St John's Smith Square on September 15 (streamed live by medici.tv).