Otmar Suitner, one of the unsung masters of the baton, died in Berlin on January 8 at the age of 87. The Austrian conductor could seduce his listeners with his elegant, warm-hearted Mozart or inspire awe with his handling of a Bruckner symphony, and happily for us he left fine recordings of both. Suitner studied piano at the Innsbruck Conservatory and, during the Second World War, at the Salzburg Mozarteum. He also studied under Clemens Krauss, whose feeling for precisely the “right” phrase or tempo was an obvious influence.
The Chinese pianist Yundi, formerly known as Yundi Li, has signed an exclusive recording contract with EMI. The contract embraces recordings of Chopin’s complete solo piano works and the first disc, to be issued in March, will be of the complete Nocturnes. Yundi, who made a number of well-received recordings for DG, shot to prominence when he won the 14th International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 2000 – he was the first pianist in 15 years to be awarded the First Prize and, at 18, also the youngest.
A season of composer films by Christopher Nupen starts on BBC Four this Friday (January 15) and runs for eight weeks at 7.30pm on Friday evenings (and on the BBC iPlayer for a week after original transmission).
The 2010 Gilmore Artist Award has been given to 30-year-old Russian-born pianist Kirill Gerstein. The Award is given every four years, following a judging process in which candidates are assessed over a sustained period by an advisory committee without their knowledge. The impressive list of former recipients most recently includes Ingrid Fliter, Piotr Anderszewski and Leif Ove Andsnes.
The chart returns after a week’s break, with “Alma Mater - Music from the Vatican” still at Number 1, and Howard Goodall continuing to occupy the next two places. Further down the list, Beethoven box sets seem to be proving popular, with both Herbert von Karajan’s Symphonies (EMI) and Paul Lewis’s Sonatas (Harmonia Mundi) at 12 and 13. View the chart for January 2 – you can also download it as a pdf.
The New Year’s Honours featured a number of figures from the classical music world. Knighthoods went to the director of the National Theatre, Nicholas Hytner – whose stage productions include work in the opera-house – and Dr Ralph Kohn, a philanthropist whose generosity has benefited many musical organisations.
The name of Stanley Day will be familiar to older readers of Gramophone . In the early 1950s he proposed to the publishers that they should create a running index to the increasing number of reviews appearing each month in the magazine: parallel with this, as the Publisher, I was anxious to produce a cumulative catalogue of all LPs currently available in the UK (the first releases having been in June 1950).