Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic receive Record of the Year at the ëOscarsí of the classical music industry.

Claudio Abbado, conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra received the prestigious Record of the Year Award 2006 for their performance of Mahlerís Symphony No 6. James Jolly, Editor-in-Chief of Gramophone commented: ëHere is a thrilling memento of a great orchestra welcoming back a former music director with playing of Titanic power and sensitivity. Abbado's Mahler Sixth has matured and grown down the years and it's hard to imagine this intense and intensely personal music receiving a greater interpretation by any other living conductor.í The Record of the Year was voted for by Gramophone judges; a voting academy made up of retailers, critics and broadcasters.

The five other finalists for Record of the Year also reflect the breadth and imagination of the industry. 'Abendbilder', a collection of Schubert songs with the young German baritone Christian Gerhaher (RCA) was given an award. The Polish pianist Piotr Anderszewski performed music by his compatriot Karol Szymanowski (Virgin Classics). The clarinettist Kari Kriikku was joined by the Finish RSO and Sakari Oramo for Magnus Lindberg's Clarinet Concerto on the Ondine label ñ making it a 100 per cent Finnish winner. Pianist Mikhail Pletnev was joined by an all-star line-up for a pair of Taneyev chamber works (DG) and, re-writing musical history, an archive rescue saw a 1955 recording taken live at Bayreuth take its place as the first stereo recording of Wagner's Ring cycle. Joseph Keilberth conducts a superb cast in this remarkable recording (Testament).

The Artist of the Year Award was given to Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt of whom James Jolly said ëShe made her name with the music of Bach, but Angela Hewitt has demonstrated her musical sympathies in many other composers' work. Her Chabrier enchants, her Ravel amazes and her Bach continues to reward and impress in equal measure.í

The hotly contested Label of the Year Award In Association with SFH UK Ltd was picked up by Virgin Classics. Jolly said that the decision had been a difficult one but that ëUnder the leadership of Alain Lanceron, Virgin Classics has had a vintage year combining rare repertoire with classics of the repertoire, and matching supreme artists with that music with a sureness of touch and a taste that has few equalsí.

This yearís Editor's Choice Award, went to Gerald Finleyís Stanford Songs of the Sea etc (BBC NOW/Hickox (Chandos)) commended because ëthese hearty, very British songs succeed in doing everything they set out to do perfectly! Finley is on magnificent form and Hickox and his Welsh forces are in their element!í

Classic FMís Listeners' Choice Award was given to the glamorous trumpet-player Alison Balsom, Jolly commented: ëMarrying thrilling musicianship with the looks of a marketeer's dreams, Alison Balsom is the very model of a modern classical musician. If a single young artist puts the trumpet on the map it will be Alison Balsom!í

Finally this yearís Lifetime Achievement Award In Association with the BPI was presented to Sir Charles Mackerras. Jolly explained when handing over the award ëNo conductor has made such a contribution to recorded music across such a wide range of genres and so successfully as Sir Charles Mackerras. He's been a towering presence on the music scene for decades and continues to thrill, impress and entertain with his committed, stylish conducting.í

 

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