Gramophone's Voice & Ensemble Award 2023


Véronique Gens, Sandrine Piau sops Le Concert de la Loge / Julien Chauvin


Véronique Gens and Sandrine Piau tell us that this wonderful album is simply ‘a prank, an imaginary conflict between two divas’, though it is in fact a great deal more than that. Its starting point is the seemingly cordial rivalry between Madame Dugazon and Madame Saint-Huberty, stars of the Opéra-Comique and Paris Opéra respectively in the last years of the ancien régime. Dugazon’s voice was light and bright, Saint-Huberty’s somewhat darker, a contrast replicated today by Piau and Gens. ‘Rivales’ consequently gives us arias from operas that each soprano sang, along with duets they could have performed together but probably didn’t.

‘The album’s greatness lies not only in its sheer brilliance, but in the fact that it leaves you longing to hear and explore so much more’

Gens and Piau are both on tremendous form here. Gens sounds fabulously intense in a scene from Jean-Frédéric Edelmann’s Ariane dans l’île de Naxos, while Piau is breathtaking in ‘Se mai senti’ from Gluck’s early La Clemenza di Tito, later re-worked in Iphigénie en Tauride. Their voices blend gorgeously in duets by JC Bach and Nicolas Dalayrac, and there’s thrilling playing, too, from Le Concert de la Loge under Julien Chauvin. Yet ‘Rivales’ also opens a window on to the late 18th-century French operatic world, of which our knowledge is sketchy beyond Gluck’s centrality, Grétry’s popularity and Cherubini’s post-Revolutionary emergence. Listening to music by Edelmann, Dalayrac, Monsigny and Louis-Luc Loiseau de Persuis, you can’t help but be struck by its originality and quality: the album’s greatness lies not only in its sheer brilliance, but in the fact that it leaves you longing to hear and explore so much more. Tim Ashley

Recording categories




Concept Album


Early Music



Orchestral & Recording of the Year



Spatial Audio

Voice & Ensemble

Special Awards

Lifetime Achievement

Label of the Year

Young Artist of the Year

Artist of the Year

Orchestra of the Year

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