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Recorded music has probably never occupied such a central, and vital, role in all our lives as it has for the past 18 months. I know that I’ve never listened to as much music before, and not since my teens have I sought it out with quite the same hunger. And much of my listening can be found in the pages of this digital magazine, a compilation of revews of every recording that has made the shortlist for the 2021 Gramophone Classical Music Awards, once again presented in association with Apple Music, E Gutzwiller et Cie, Banquiers, and Help Musicians UK.

After an initial round based on the monthly Editor’s Choice recordings (from the 13 issues published between June 2020 to May 2021) and then supplemented by any additions proposed by our critics (and subsequently reduced by specialist committees), we reach the general vote into which any of our 45 reviewers can opt. Each category comprised six recordings and the late spring and summer were devoted to listening to produce the winning albums (they will be revealed on September 22) and presented, along with the artist and ‘special’ awards, at our online Awards ceremony on October 5 (and available to view thereafter for 90 days).

This year we’ve made a few changes; some largely cosmetic, some completely new. We’ve done a bit of renaming: Solo Vocal becomes Song, Recital has turned into Voice & Ensemble to more obviously embrace works that are hard to categorise elsewhere, and to acknowledge that we’re living of a Golden Age of pianism (to the extent that other instruments rarely get a look-in), we’ve spun Piano off from Instrumental (which now accommodates any solo music-making that isn’t played on a piano). And we’ve also introduced a new category for Spatial Audio releases, a technology embraced by Apple Music which makes often very exciting use of Dolby Atmos. The six nominated recordings’ original Gramophone reviews are supplemented by comments drawn from our voting deliberations.

I do hope you enjoy listening to these 72 recordings as much as we have. James Jolly August 2021


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GRAMOPHONE is published by MA Music, Leisure & Travel Ltd, St Jude’s Church, Dulwich Road, London SE24 0PB, United Kingdom

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