RECORDINGS OF THE YEAR
A year of imagination and superb musicianship Editor-in-Chief James Jolly introduces the
Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2022
There’s a wonderful period of 10 days in the middle of July when the results are in. We know all the category winners and our enviable task is to listen to them all in preparation for the Recording of the Year meeting. It’s a great excuse for a deep immersion in some truly glorious music-making, for listening openly but critically, for asking all the questions about what each recording contributes to the catalogue and then coming up with a rough order in readiness for lively debate.
This year’s meeting – the first time many of our critics had seen each other and us ‘in the flesh’ for two years – was characteristically animated, full of wisdom and a sense of genuine engagement with what the musicians were aiming to convey, but the winner of the Recording of the Year emerged pretty decisively – turn the page and all will be revealed!
This year is the Gramophone Classical Music Awards’ 45th birthday, and is the last one before the magazine celebrates its centenary in April next year. In many ways, it shows how far the classical recording industry has come in those 99 years, but at the same time how those early ideals have remain unchanged.
I often liken this annual celebration to a health check that tells us a lot about the current state of classical music on record: the report this year would certainly be positive, and as always, remarkably wide-ranging. There are the great works of the classical canon given vital new readings (something the Concerto, Choral, Piano and Orchestral categories all demonstrate), then there are works that have been crying out for a new benchmark (our Opera winner certainly does that) and then there are the wonderfully imaginative programmes that spark curiosity and reward it richly (the Chamber and Early Music categories surely do this). But what unites them all is the sheer high quality of the music-making and its transfer from studio to whatever format you choose for your listening.
There have been no changes to the modus operandi this year: we continue to separate Piano and Instrumental (basically, open to any instrument other than a piano – and for the first time in many years, an organ recording made a valiant bid for the prize). We return to celebrate Spatial Audio recordings – the imaginative use of Dolby Atmos technology to create a genuinely immersive listening experience.
As usual, any recording reviewed between June 2021 and May 2022 and named an Editor’s Choice was automatically nominated. The entire panel of reviewers could then add to that long list of 130 recordings with personal favourites. This long list was voted on in Round 1 by specialist juries producing six albums in each. This formed Round 2, and any critic could opt into as many or few categories as they liked. And after a couple of months of listening, the winners emerged. The artist awards were decided by a panel drawn from our editorial team. We’ve enjoyed the process as always, and we hope you enjoy listening to some genuinely thrilling recordings.
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