The 2017 Gramophone Recording of the Year Award was won by Isabelle Faust, Il Giardino Armonico and Giovanni Antonini for their riveting accounts of Mozart's violin concertos on Harmonia Mundi. It is a recording which now sits side-by-side with Mozart intepretations by the likes of Benjamin Britten, Christopher Hogwood, Murray Perahia and Sir Antonio Pappano on the list of Gramophone Award-winners.
Mozart recordings were a very regular part of our annual Gramophone Awards celebrations from the first one in 1977 until the bicentenary of Mozart's death in 1991 (the year in which Gardiner's Idomeneo won the Opera Award and Philips' 'Complete Mozart Edition' won Special Achievement), when it appears that we over-indulged ourselves on Wolfgang's genius, as no other recording of Mozart's music received a Gramophone Award until 13 years later, in 2004 (Jacobs's Figaro). And in recent years, Mozart recordings have begun to feature prominently at the Gramophone Awards again through the outstanding work of John Butt, Antonio Pappano and Sabine Devieilhe, among others. It seems that there is still much to learn, appreciate and love about this endlessly fascinating music.
Many of the recordings listed here feature links to the original reviews in the Gramophone Reviews Database, a unique archive of more than 45,000 classical recording reviews. To find out more about subscribing to the Reviews Database, please visit: gramophone.co.uk/subscribe
2017 Recording of the Year
Isabelle Faust vn Il Giardino Armonico / Giovanni Antonini
‘For period instruments, period sensibility and state-of-the-art engineering, you may find yourself hard-pressed to better this thought-provoking and eminently enjoyable cycle...’
2016 Recital Award
Sabine Devieilhe sop Arnaud de Pasquale pf/org Ensemble Pygmalion / Raphäel Pichon
'In the spectacular "Popoli di Tessaglia" Devieilhe catches each fluctuation of Alceste’s grief and protest in the opening recitative, then flies off into the stratosphere without shrillness or strain...'
2014 Choral Award
Joanne Lunn (sop) Rowan Hellier (mez) Thomas Hobbs (ten) Matthew Brook (bass) Dunedin Consort / John Butt
‘Purely on grounds of performance alone, this is one of the finest Mozart Requiems of recent years...’
2008 DVD Award
Erwin Schrott bass Figaro; Miah Persson sop Susanna; Gerald Finley bar Count Almaviva; Rinat Shaham mez Cherubino; Dorothea Röschmann sop Countess Almaviva; The Royal Opera / Antonio Pappano
'Figaro and Susanna are very much the centre here, and we like them not only because they sing and act well but because they are sympathetic in a modern way. Or perhaps that is a way of saying that they give the kind of performance the camera likes: their energy is creditably youthful and spontaneous, and their facial expressions work largely through eyes and eyebrows. They deal in light ironies, delicate apprehensions...'
2004 Recording of the Year
Patrizia Ciofi sop Susanna; Lorenzo Regazzo bass Figaro; Simon Keenlyside bar Count Almaviva; Véronique Gens sop Countess Almaviva; Angelika Kirchschlager mez Cherubino; Ghent Collegium Vocale; Concerto Köln / René Jacobs
'The cast is excellent. Véronique Gens offers a beautifully natural, shapely "Porgi amor" and a passionate and spirited "Dove sono" (with the piano rampant near the end). The laughter in Patrizia Ciofi’s voice is delightful when she is dressing up Cherubino, and she has space in "Deh vieni" for a touchingly expressive performance...'
1991 Opera Award
Anthony Rolfe Johnson ten Idomeneo; Anne Sofie von Otter mez Idamante; Sylvia McNair sop Ilia; Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists / John Eliot Gardiner
'Unless and until further research proves otherwise, this version will remain the definitive recording of Mozart's early masterpiece for a long time to come...'
1991 Special Achievement Award
'This is a quite extraordinary gesture to commemorate the bicentenary of arguably the greatest composer the world has known. Gathering over 250 musicians on 180 discs it sets out to chart the remarkable journey from Mozart's Minuet in G major, K1 to the Requiem, K626, and embracing en route works of such incredible beauty, profundity and insight that mere words falter and fail in their description...'
1989 Instrumental Award
Mitsuko Uchida pf
'I have the impression that Uchida has thought long and deeply about the music, and has completely made up her mind as to how she wants it to go...'
1986 Instrumental Award
Murray Perahia, Radu Lupu pfs
'Whether it is in the perfectly crafted busy activity of the Allegro con spirito first movement of the Mozart or the introspective and soulful depth of the Schubert, the players find a unanimity of vision. One is not so much conscious of dialogue-like interplay, but more of them blending to play as one instrument...'
1985 Opera Award
Thomas Allen bar Don Giovanni; Carol Vaness sop Donna Anna; Maria Ewing sop Donna Elvira; Elizabeth Gale sop Zerlina; Keith Lewis ten Don Ottavio; Richard Van Allan bass Leporello; John Rawnsley bass Masetto; Dimitri Kavrakos bass Commendatore; Glyndebourne Chorus, London Philharmonic Orchestra / Bernard Haitink
'Thomas Allen conveys, by voice alone the saturnine quality of his Giovanni, even without the help of his leering, daemonic portrayal...'
1984 Choral Award
Sols; Leipzig Radio Chorus, Staatskapelle Dresden / Peter Schreier
'The fact that Schreier knows the score inside out and that he loves the music passionately, shines through the whole performance: I can think of few, if any, live or on records, that have struck me as being so totally committed to the spirit of this great work, or have made it sound like a finished masterpiece...'
1984 Concerto Award
English Chamber Orchestra / Murray Perahia pf
'Murray Perahia gives intelligent, beautifully controlled, highly polished performances, and is especially successful in the more intimate, almost chamber-musical K450...'
1979 Early Music Award
Academy of Ancient Music / Christopher Hogwood
'This is a courageous venture, and the results seemed to us to justify the faith reposed in the Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood and Jaap Schroder, who remove the century and more of would-be expressive accretions to let Mozart speak fresh, clear and in a true voice...'
1978 Chamber Award
Martha Argerich, Stephen Bishop-Kovacevich pfs Willy Goudswaard and Michael de Roo perc
'The second side begins with the Mozart Andante and Variations, K501, beautifully played though the tempo is slightly faster than I like, but this, of course, is a matter of individual taste. In any event this is a most distinguished and welcome issue...'
1978 Orchestral Award
English Chamber Orchestra / Benjamin Britten
'Britten secures marvellous performances of these two symphonies by the 18-year-old Mozart. In the 'little' G minor he brings out, by the choice of moderate tempi and legato phrasing (listen to how lovingly he shapes the second subject of the finale, for example), the uneasy tension implicit in the two outer movements, without making the music sound aggressive or nervous...'
1977 Concerto Award
Alfred Brendel pf Academy of St Martin in the Fields / Neville Marriner
'This recording, technically first-rate, has the benefit of exemplary accompaniment by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields under the unerring guidance of Neville Marriner. For anyone wanting a recording of K482 as near perfection as one is likely to get, this new issue is the obvious answer...'