Antonio Pappano's Aïda crowned The Times' Classical Album of the Year
During the recording sessions in Rome last February, people were already calling it the opera event of the year. This has certainly been borne out by the starry reviews around the world, the Diapason d'Or for Opera Recording of the Year in France, and its lofty place at the top of the UK Classical charts. Now another laurel: The Times has named Antonio Pappano's Aïda the Classical Album of the Year for 2015.
"Pappano’s Rome orchestra and chorus respond thrillingly to the maestro’s expansive, dramatically temperamental conducting with an outstanding cast led by Jonas Kaufmann’s poetic-heroic Radamès, the ultra-musical Aïda of Anja Harteros and Ekaterina Semenchuk’s barnstorming Amneris."
Antonio Pappano, Philippe Jaroussky and Paavo Järvi awarded the Diapason d'Or
The Diapason d'Or ceremony held last night in Paris was the only event this week not to be cancelled for security reasons at the Maison de la Radio. In a live broadcast on France Musique celebrating "the ambition of classical record labels", the presenters cited Leonard Bernstein: "This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before."
Among the albums to receive the unanimous nod from Diapason magazine's critics were two very different operas. First, the revelation of the year: Erato's world-premiere recording of the 1688 opera Niobe, Regina di Tebe by Agostino Steffani, the missing link between Cavalli and Handel.
Lutenist Paul O'Dette, who co-directed the Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra and an outstanding cast featuring Philippe Jaroussky and Karina Gauvin, accepted the Diapason d'Or in person. "When I discovered the music of Steffani I searched all the libraries to find his operas, and Niobe was the most beautiful." O'Dette "coached the singers nine hours a day for a month" in preparation for the modern premiere and the first recording of this magnificent Baroque jewel.
From Baroque intimacy to Verdian grandeur, the second album to win the Diapason d'Or de l'Année in the Opera category is Warner Classics' opulent, ambitious recording of Aïda. In the title role, the "unforgettable" Anja Harteros embodies "the grace of Tebaldi, the passion of Callas", at the head of a dream team featuring Jonas Kaufmann, Erwin Schrott, Ludovic Tézier and Maestro Antonio Pappano with his Roman army, the orchestra and chorus of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. Diapason hailed this monumental studio recording "an Aïda built to last".
The 2015 Diapason Artist of the Year is maestro Paavo Järvi (who was also recently named Gramophone's Artist of the Year at a ceremony in London). The Estonian conductor, as committed to recording as he is to the excitement of live performance, said he was "proud" to accept the award, particularly for his recording of music by the late French composer Henri Dutilleux with the Orchestre de Paris.
"It is important for the orchestra and particularly for me personally," he said of the award. "I am a big fan and very fond of the music of Dutilleux. Thank you for honouring us."