Founded in 1923 by Sir Compton Mackenzie and Christopher Stone as ‘an organ of candid opinion for the numerous possessors of gramophones’
Celebrating our gold medal winners
Accolades come in many forms. You hold in your hands our annual celebration of the very best classical music recordings of the year, our tribute to the extraordinary life-affirming music-making from the greatest artists in the world. It’s stating the obvious that such achievements do not happen over-night, the result purely of artistic inspiration. For all the interpretative genius that elevates the technically brilliant to the summit of artistic excellence, all is nought without the decades of devoted, hard graft – technical exercises, forensic exploration of the music, experimentation, consolidation. As the old joke about how to get to Carnegie Hall goes: practice, practice, practice. But then, only then, is that visionary extra layer able to make all the difference.
As I write, I’m still feeling a glow of patriotic pride at the phenomenal success of our British athletes in the Olympics. Sport/music analogies are easily made, and it’s possible to take them too far – for a start, winning isn’t so absolute in art. We bestow Awards on our winners, which indeed have emerged from a rigorous voting process, but unlike in sport the status of the first across the line is more nuanced, the definitive and unanswerable cruelty of the clock does not apply, and anyway, we’re rarely comparing like-for-like. Any recording which made it to the category shortlists, let alone found itself before the final Recording of the Year panel, is worthy of joining your collection.
But as we all marvel at the path of total dedication, invariably and necessarily one of sacrifice, of our Olympic victors, let us remember that for the soloists,
singers and conductors here being honoured, that path has been no less one of single-minded pursuit, quite possibly one that started even earlier than that of a cyclist or swimmer. Most insights into the lives of athletes – whether interviews, biographies or those moving displays of emotion on winning or losing – reveal that the willto-win is only part of the story, just as a musician’s technical prowess is only part of theirs. Endeavour exists within the context of a life – soul and spirituality are a crucial part of the mix. In a fascinating step, the Estonian Olympic Committee has just appointed conductor Kristjan Järvi as the first non-sports person to become a member. Partly it’s to explore the role music can play in inspiring people (I wonder what he’ll have athletes listening to on their giant headphones when getting into the zone!). But it’s also to bring to sport a fresh angle of understanding about how the physical and spiritual relate which, as we know, they so crucially do in music-making. As with athleticism, so with art: we are all complex and comprehensive beings, perhaps those able to attain the extraordinary levels required to win Gramophone Awards (or Olympic medals) more than most.
I do hope you enjoy our Award-winning recordings – gold medals to them all. And two new initiatives this year offer you an even closer ring-side seat: the entire Awards ceremony will be available to stream on medici.tv and classicfm.com, while a special CD featuring performances by all the Award-winners is available exclusively from Amazon. firstname.lastname@example.org
THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS
‘How lucky we were, the generation who grew up in the heyday of The Three Tenors,’ says RICHARD
‘Anyone who loves Gurrelieder talks about it like a child presented with a Christmas stocking, and Edward Gardner
FAIRMAN, author of this month’s Icons. ‘My memories of José Carreras are as vivid now as they were when I first saw him at the start of his career. So involving, so immediate – a very special singer.’
was no different,’ says PETER QUANTRILL, who interviewed the conductor for this issue’s Musician and Score. ‘But then – would you believe it? – discussing Schoenberg over coffee can be a lot of fun.’
‘What is it about Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony which eludes all but the finest and wisest conductors?’ asks
RICHARD OSBORNE, author of this month’s Collection. ‘After spending six months with a work I fondly imagined I understood after a lifetime’s listening, I suspect I know the answer.’
THE REVIEWERS Andrew Achenbach • David Allen • Nalen Anthoni • Tim Ashley • Mike Ashman • Richard Bratby Edward Breen • Liam Cagney • Philip Clark • Alexandra Coghlan • Rob Cowan (consultant reviewer) Jeremy Dibble • Peter Dickinson • Jed Distler • Adrian Edwards • Richard Fairman • David Fallows David Fanning • Andrew Farach-Colton • Iain Fenlon • Neil Fisher • Fabrice Fitch • Jonathan Freeman-Attwood Charlotte Gardner • Caroline Gill • David Gutman • Christian Hoskins • Lindsay Kemp • Philip Kennicott Richard Lawrence • Andrew Mellor • Kate Molleson • Ivan Moody • Bryce Morrison • Hannah Nepil Jeremy Nicholas • Christopher Nickol • Geoffrey Norris • Richard Osborne • Stephen Plaistow • Mark Pullinger Peter Quantrill • Guy Rickards • Malcolm Riley • Marc Rochester • Patrick Rucker • Julie Anne Sadie Edward Seckerson • Hugo Shirley • Pwyll ap Siôn • Harriet Smith • David Patrick Stearns • David Threasher David Vickers • John Warrack • Richard Whitehouse • Arnold Whittall • Richard Wigmore • William Yeoman
Gramophone, which has been serving the classical music world since 1923, is first and foremost a monthly review magazine, delivered today in both print and digital formats. It boasts an eminent and knowledgeable panel of experts, which reviews the full range of classical music recordings. Its reviews are completely independent. In addition to reviews, its interviews and features help readers to explore in greater depth the recordings that the magazine covers, as well as offer insight into the work of composers and performers. It is the magazine for the classical record collector, as well as for the enthusiast starting a voyage of discovery.
GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2016 3