RECORDINGS OF THE YEAR
I U S
M O R K E V
I S V A L D A S
P H O T O G R A P H Y
WINNER A mighty impressive solo debut album A superb partnership delivers thrillingly magnificent Rachmaninov
Somewhat unusually for the song category, this year saw a shortlist featuring a couple of big operatic voices, as well as virtuoso pianists sharing the spotlight with singer partners. This happens nowhere more successfully than on Asmik Grigorian’s Rachmaninov album with pianist Lukas Geniu≈as. It offers a concentrated 45-minute hit of rich, brooding and ecstatic Romances, performed with an ideal balance of emotional directness, vocal power and, from Geniu≈as, cool virtuosity. It’s a canny choice of repertoire for Grigorian’s debut album, too. She’s well known as a compelling stage animal, but here her voice – a mix of steel and satin that immediately pins you to your seat – and powerfully communicative artistry are allowed to shine in a more intimate context. As we go from one gem to another, one marvels at a technique that, in this most unforgiving of genres, allows the singer
‘Dissonance’ Songs by Rachmaninov Asmik Grigorian sop Lukas Geniušas pf Alpha ALPHA796 (4/22) Producer & Engineer Franck Ja frès 81 VOTES
‘Nostalgia’ Songs by Bartók, Brahms and Mussorgsky Magdalena Kožená; Ye im Bronfman Pentatone (11/21) 74 VOTES Schumann ‘Alle Lieder’ – Complete Songs Christian Gerhaher; Gerold Huber Sony Classical (10/21) 72 VOTES
to unleash such power without the voice fraying, to convey such emotion without losing control of line and intonation. The range is remarkable, too, running from tenderness, via nostalgic sorrow and heartbreak, to sweeping power; soprano and pianist leave us no doubt as to the range of colours within the composer’s emotional palette. And Geniu≈as’s role cannot be over-estimated: he’s wonderful in the many important postludes and indeed brings pianistic sophistication, poetry, quicksilver imagination, finely calibrated power and brilliant technical aplomb to Rachmaninov’s writing throughout. This is a thrilling recital that had me pressing play again as soon as it finished. A fully deserved and most welcome winner. Hugo Shirley
46 GRAMOPHONE GRAMOPHONE RECORDINGS OF THE YEAR 2022
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