Quatuor Ebène win Recording of the Year

Martin Cullingford1st Oct 2009

Quatuor Ebène have won Recording of the Year at the 2009 Classic FM Gramophone Awards for their disc of Debussy, Ravel and Fauré string quartets.

The young French ensemble, represented by their violist Mathieu Herzog, were presented with the accolade – as well as the Chamber category award – at a ceremony at London’s Dorchester Hotel today (Friday October 2). It was their debut release on the Virgin Classics label. When reviewed last December, Rob Cowan identified “a fluidity to the Ebène’s playing…that suits the music’s character, a mood of wistfulness that the Ravel especially benefits from”. Quatuor Ebène, he went on, “score highest for an almost palpable sense of wonder” in these works.

Other recordings to win this year included the Hallé orchestra’s powerful performance of Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius (in the Choral category), Puccini’s Madama Butterfly featuring Angela Gheorghiu (Opera), Vasily Petrenko and the RLPO’s Tchaikovsky Manfred Symphony disc (Orchestral), and NMC’s state-of-the-contemporary-song (and well-deserved birthday present to itself), the NMC Songbook (Contemporary). For a full list of category winners, see below.

Other Award winners included the choir The Sixteen, conducted by their founder Harry Christophers, named Artist of the Year following a public vote by Gramophone readers and listeners to radio stations throughout the world. The Sixteen also took the Baroque Vocal Award for their Handel Coronation Anthems disc, on their own Coro label.

The astonishing achievement of pioneering Austrian conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt – who turns 80 this year – was recognised with the Lifetime Achievement award. The 22-year-old pianist Yuja Wang, signed to Deutsche Grammophon, was named Young Artist of the Year.

The Label of the Year Award went to German label ECM, loved by record collectors for its courageous, independent and distinctive approach to artists and repertoire. The Classic FM Innovation Award – given to an initiative or organisation which has broken down barriers and attracted new audiences – went to the Royal Opera House and The Sun for their Don Giovanni opening night reader offer.

Bernard Coutaz, founder of the much-loved French-based label Harmonia Mundi, received the Special Achievement Award. The Music in the Community Award – a new award this year, run in collaboration with The Times – was given to Matthew Peacock of Streetwise Opera, an organisation that works with homeless people.

The full list of recording awards is as follows:

Baroque instrumental
Purcell - The Complete Fantazias
Harmonia Mundi HMU90 7502

Baroque Vocal
Handel - Coronation Anthems, etc
The Sixteen / Harry Christophers
Coro COR16066

The Dream of Gerontius
Alice Coote mez, Paul Groves ten, Bryn Terfel bass-bar; Choirs; Hallé Orchestra / Sir Mark Elder
Hallé CDHLD7520

Piano Concerto
Steven Osborne pf;
BBC Scottish SO / Ilan Volkov
Hyperion CDA67625

The NMC Songbook
Various artists

Der Ring des Nibelungen – “The Copenhagen Ring”
Royal Danish Opera / Michael Schønwandt
Directed by Kasper Bech Holten
Decca 074 3264DH7

Early Music
‘Song of Songs’
Stile Antico
Harmonia Mundi HMU80 7489

Historic archive
Les Troyens
Covent Garden Opera / Rafael Kubelík
Testament SBT41443

Historic reissue
‘Composers in Person’
Various artists
EMI (22 discs) 217575-2

Complete Works for Piano, Vol 4
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet
Chandos CHAN10497

Madama Butterfly
Soloists incl Angela Gheorghiu sop; Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia / Antonio Pappano
EMI 264187-2

Manfred Symphony
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Vasily Petrenko
Naxos 8 570568

Julietta Fragments
Magdalena Kozená mez; Czech Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Charles Mackerras
Supraphon SU3994-2

Solo vocal
Dichterliebe and other Heine Settings
Gerald Finley bar, Julius Drake pf
Hyperion CDA67676

Recording of the Year and Chamber
Debussy. Fauré. Ravel
String Quartets
Quatuor Ebène
Virgin 519045-2

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