Classical BRIT Awards 2008

Classical BRIT Awards 2008

Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman
Steven Isserlis
Anna Netrebko & Andrea Bocelli
Josh Groban
David Garrett, Valeriy Sokolov & Xuefei Yang
Hayley Westenra & Jonathan Ansell

London Chamber Orchestra
David Charles Abell

Presented by Myleene Klass
With Simon Bates, Margherita Taylor, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Brian Blessed, Jane Asher, Michael Grade, Annie Lennox


Reviewed by: Michael Darvell

Reviewed: 8 May, 2008
Venue: Royal Albert Hall, London

There was controversy before it even started. An announcement before the beginning of the Classical BRIT Awards 2008 bluntly stated that Nigel Kennedy would not be appearing. Apparently the fiddler threw a fit because the organisers didn’t want him to perform with Bond, the all-female string quartet. Well, it’s their show and not his, so what can you do? It’s a pity he didn’t appear because at least that would have given the evening more classical clout. As it is, it’s still an odd mix of music to an extent that it should be called the Classical Crossover BRITs.

Looking at the programme, one’s heart lifts at seeing ‘Song of the earth’ but, sad to say, it’s not Gustav Mahler, but Lucio Quarantotto and Francesco Sartori, the Italian song-writing team who have provided Andrea Bocelli with a number of hits including this one, ‘Canto della terra’ which he performs with Sarah Brightman and which sets the tone for the rest of the evening, soppy, soapy and soupy songs interlarded with the real thing.

It’s not every day you get to hear Steven Isserlis playing one of Bach’s Cello Suites, although he warns us it was the saddest music in the world. Then there’s David Garrett and Valeriy Sokolov, violins, and Xuefei Yang, guitar, playing Sarasate’s Navarra. Bocelli returns later with Anna Netrebko to give us the ‘Brindisi’ from Verdi’s “La traviata”, and Sarah Brightman performs ‘Pie Jesu’ from her ex-hubby’s “Requiem”. Andrew Lloyd Webber himself is here to pick up his Outstanding Achievement in Music Award.Hayley Westenra and Jonathan Ansell (from the pop-opera group G4) sing ‘Un giorno per noi’ from Nino Rota’s score to Zeffirelli’s film of “Romeo and Juliet” (more slush). At least Danielle de Niese makes a pretty good show of Delibes’s ‘Les filles de Cadix’. Otherwise it’s US MOR singer-songwriter Josh Groban singing ‘February song’ by Marius de Vries and John Ondrasik and Charlie Chaplin’s ‘Smile’: not exactly classical. In between the award-giving and the individual acts, the London Chamber Orchestra under David Charles Abell play some Mendelssohn and Rossini.

At least the awards are mainly for honours in the classical field. Jane Asher presents Sir Colin Davis with the award for Male Artist of the Year (over singers Alfie Boe and Rolando Villazon). Female Artist of the Year is Anna Netrebko, with Annie Lennox doing the honours. Runners-up are Angela Hewitt and Natalie Clein. Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen presents violinist Nicola Benedetti with the award for Young British Classical Performer, and the runners-up are Kate Royal and Lawrence Power. Soundtrack of the Year goes to “Blood Diamond” by James Newton Howard, with “Atonement” by Dario Marianelli and “Elizabeth – the Golden Age” by Craig Armstrong and A. R. Rahman running up. Brian Blessed presents the Critics’ Award in his usual blustering manner to Steven Isserlis for his Bach recording. English National Opera’s “The Makropoulos Case” by Janáček, and the Pavel Haas Quartet playing Janáček and Haas are the also-rans. Simon Bates presents Blake, another foursome of young crossover performers, with the NS&I Album of the Year award. Also in contention are Alfie Boe, All Angels, The Choirboys, Fron Male Voice Choir, Cortes, Hayley Westenra, Ludovico Einaudi, Natasha Marsh and the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.

After Michael Grade presents Andrew Lloyd Webber with his Outstanding Achievement Award, the recipient acknowledges what his brother Julian and his father William have done for English music. William Lloyd Webber, once Professor of Composition at the Royal College of Music, dissuaded Andrew from studying composition in case it spoiled him. Well, it didn’t stop him becoming the most successful composer of his day and that’s what the Classical BRITs are all about – awarding gongs to those artists who can shift recordings by the thousand and put bums on seats. At least it’s all in aid of a worthy charity, The BRIT Trust which supports young people in music and education at The BRIT School, the only non-fee paying arts school in the UK.

  • The Classical BRIT Awards is broadcast on ITV1 on Thursday 15 May at 10.35 p.m.
  • Classical BRITs

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