The top 10 Gramophone Awards recordings for 2020

Receiving a Gramophone Award is one of the biggest accolades an album can receive in the classical music world. Often dubbed the “Oscars of classical music”, Gramophone have just revealed their top ten recordings for this year across ten categories

One of these recordings will also go on to win “Recording of the Year” at the awards ceremony, which takes place on October 6, streamed live on medici.tv, so everyone can tune in live for the big reveal! 

 

Chamber 

This year’s Chamber category has been won by Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang alongside fellow players Barnabás Kelemen, Lawrence Power, Nicolas Altstaedt and Alexander Lonquich. Their recording of Bartók’s Piano Quintet and Veress’ String Trio on Alpha Classics was called “unmissable” by Gramophone when it was released earlier this year. 

 

Choral 

In their second Gramophone win (having previously snagged the same award in 2017) specialist Japanese ensemble Bach Collegium Japan have won this year’s Choral category with their conductor Masaaki Suzuki, with their recording of Bach’s St John Passion. Upon arriving in Cologne for their 20th anniversary tour in March, they were told that coronavirus would cut their trip short. Instead of returning straight home, the group decided to record one of Bach’s master works, capturing this remarkable recording in a truly unique moment in time.  

 

Concerto 

Gramophone’s 2012 Young Artist of the Year, British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor returns to the Awards this year with his recording of Chopin Piano Concertos winning the Concerto category. Joined by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under conductor Elim Chan, Gramophone hailed the “bold decisions” taken by the musicians that make you rethink these works and appreciate them all over again.  

 

Contemporary 

Composer, conductor and pianist Thomas Adès is no stranger to the Awards, and in his fourth win across 22 years, takes this year’s Contemporary category with his recording conducting his own Piano Concerto and Totentanz. Sung and played by Kirill Gerstein, Mark Stone, Christianne Stotijn and Boston Symphony Orchestra, Gramophone said, “for proof that Adès does what he does with mind-boggling brilliance, look no further”.   

 

Early Music 

The Early Music category is won this year by Les Arts Florissants and Paul Agnew, one of the world’s top early music groups, with their recording of Gesualdo’s Madrigali, Libri primo & secondo. The group continue to record at their renowned Award-winning heights, this being their ninth win at the Gramophone Awards since their first in 1982! 

 

Opera 

The Opera category has gone to a recording of Handel’s Agrippina, featuring a star-studded cast with the likes of Joyce DiDonato, Elsa Benoit, Luca Pisaroni, Franco Fagioli, Jakub Józef Orliński, Andrea Mastroni, Carlo Vistoli, Biagio Pizzuti and Marie-Nicole Lemieux with Il Pomo d'Oro and Maxim Emelyanychev. The opera tells the story of the mother of Nero who plots the downfall of Roman Emperor Claudius so her son can take his place. 

 

Orchestral 

This year’s Orchestral award goes to the widely-acclaimed recording of Weinberg’s Symphonies 2 & 21 from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Kremerata Baltica led by conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla. This album, alongside their UK premiere of the work last year, has completely transformed the reputation of Polish composer Weinberg in the UK—a feat attributed to their new Lithuanian conductor, Mirga, who may have created what Gramophone has dubbed “one of the most important symphonic releases of the year”.  

 

Recital 

In her first ever Gramophone win, French soprano Sandrine Piau received the Recital prize this year for her album SI J'AI AIMÉ. With Le Concert de la Loge and the conductor Julien Chauvin, the musicians explore relatively unfamiliar French repertory with which they are very much at home, Piau giving her silvery tone and immaculate sense of line throughout a “most engaging” release.  

 

Solo Vocal 

Scottish tenor Nicky Spence clinches the Solo Vocal category this year with his recording of Janáček’s The diary of one who disappeared, with Julius Drake on piano. This solo outing showcases the young singer with songs by a composer who suits his voice to a tee.  

 

You can tune in and watch the gala live on October 6 on medici.tv, where the Recording of the Year will be revealed, along with some other special awards including Artist of the Year, Lifetime Achievement and Orchestra of the Year. 

For more information about the Awards, visit: gramophone.co.uk/awards


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