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Monday, October 24, 2016

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part VIII. Nominations and Awards: Orchestral, Chamber, Contemporary

The top six recordings in each of the 12 categories as voted for by the panel of Gramophone's critics, and the winners.

4. 
Orchestral, 
Chamber, Contemporary



Οι πρώτες έξι ηχογραφήσεις κάθε μίας από τις 12 κατηγορίες όπως ψηφίστηκαν από την κριτική επιτροπή του Γκράμοφον, και οι νικητές.


Το Βραβείο Ορχηστρικής Μουσικής κέρδισαν ο Λετονός μαέστρος Άντρις Νέλσονς και η Συμφωνική Ορχήστρα της Βοστόνης, για την ηχογράφηση από την Deutsche Grammophon της Συμφωνίας αρ. 10 του Ντμίτρι Σοστακόβιτς.

Το Βραβείο Μουσικής Δωματίου απονεμήθηκε στο βρετανικό Κουαρτέτο Heath, για τον δίσκο "Tippett String Quartets", από την Wigmore Hall Live.

Το Βραβείο Σύγχρονης Μουσικής απονεμήθηκε στην Καναδή υψίφωνο και διευθύντρια ορχήστρας Barbara Hannigan, και στη Συμφωνική Ορχήστρα της Βαυαρικής Ραδιοφωνίας υπό τη διεύθυνση του Άντρις Νέλσονς (δεύτερη βράβευση για τον Λετονό μαέστρο), για τον δίσκο "let me tell you" του 64χρονου Δανού συνθέτη Hans Abrahamsen, από τη Winter & Winter Records.


Orchestral
















Edward Elgar: Symphony No.1 – Staatskapelle Berlin, Daniel Barenboim (Decca)

Henri Dutilleux: Métaboles, L'Arbre des Songes, Symphony No.2, Le Double –  Seattle Symphony, Ludovic Morlot (Seattle Symphony Media)

Alfredo Casella: Orchestral Works, Vol. 4 – BBC Philharmonic, Gianandrea Noseda (Chandos)

Franz Schubert: The "Great" C major Symphony – Orchestra Mozart, Claudio Abbado (Deutsche Grammophon)

Vaughan Williams: A Sea Symphony – Hallé, Mark Elder (Hallé)

Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.10 – Boston Symphony Orchestra, Andris Nelsons (Deutsche Grammophon)


...and the winner is
Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.10 – Boston Symphony Orchestra, Andris Nelsons (Deutsche Grammophon)













Andris Nelsons's first (live) recording as Music Director of the Boston Symphony is quite something. It carries the title "Under Stalin's Shadow" though, of course, the Tenth Symphony – premiered just months after Stalin's death in 1953 – was the point at which Shostakovich emerged from that shadow defiantly brandishing his own musical monogram – DSCH – like a medal of honour. But while the Tenth is in itself a before-and-after-Stalin chronicle, Nelsons has added a preface in the shape of the stupendous Passacaglia from the composer's opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District – the piece which first found disfavour with the dictator and his regime.

So shock-and-awe arrives with a vengeance in the screaming organ-like chords which portend Katerina Izmailova's destiny – the State bearing down on this liberated woman for the crimes to which she has been driven. It is the musical embodiment of oppression, this extraordinary interlude, and the irony is that Stalin should not recognise it as such but rather find offence in its crushing dissonance. And, my goodness, Nelsons lays down the monster climax with almost obscene relish, howls of derision from the woodwind choir and the Boston trumpets recalling a thrilling stridency from days of yore when the principal from the Münch and Leinsdorf eras would lend a steely, blade-like gleam to the tutti sound.

It's a really affecting segue then from the impenetrable darkness of its closing bars into the long string bass-led introduction of the Tenth Symphony. Nelsons's performance is mighty, marked by a wonderful nose for atmosphere and a way of making space for the succession of desolate wind solos – first clarinet, later bassoons and piccolos.

The inexorability of this beautifully proportioned, arch-like first movement is judged to perfection. There is that forlorn little dance for flute that morphs into a cry of such despair in the huge development climax and later emerges in clarinets striving hope against hope to keep the spirit of optimism alive.

I mentioned the despairing climax of this movement, an upheaval so great and so protracted as to seem insurmountable – but what makes Nelsons so lethally impressive here is the precision with which he addresses every accent, every ferocious sforzando. He is the most rhythmic of conductors and the trumpet topped brass here are possessed of a unanimity that makes them absolutely implacable.

I should add that every thematic motif, every cross-reference and transformation is clearly delineated. Not in any sense forensic, as in sterile, just startlingly clear. And as Nelsons negotiates the aftermath of this crisis with great intakes of breath from his cellos and basses, we come full-circle into the bleak coda, where two piccolos vainly attempt a consoling roundelay.

The whirlwind scherzo ensues – and whether or not this was intended as a thumbnail sketch of Stalin tearing through the fabric of the symphony is immaterial: something destructive this way comes, and at great speed. Well, more the illusion of speed (emphatic and imperative) because again it's the rhythmic precision, the snap of the syncopations and absolute security in the playing of them that takes the breath away. When the trombones make their invasive presence felt midway through the movement there is more than a hint of Red Army bullyboy tactics in the attitude they convey and, by contrast, Nelsons makes much of that eerie motoric passage in the strings which follows, as if quietly generating more energy for the closing bars.

So much for the "before". Emerging from the dust of the scherzo comes the "after" – the composer reasserting his identity in the coded musical form of his own monogram, DSCH. It's there almost before you know it, offsetting evocative horn solos (beautifully attended by the BSO principal) and reiterating itself through the folk dance at the heart of the Allegretto. What a mysterious movement this is (closer to a Mahlerian Nachtmusik than anything else in Shostakovich) and how subtly Nelsons explores its shadowy subtext.

I have mentioned the beauty and personality of the wind-playing throughout this performance, and the plaintive oboe solo which first scents a new dawn at the start of the finale is especially poignant. Be in no doubt that this is one of the finest performances that I have ever heard of this great piece (it must surely bid fair for "best in catalogue") and to say that it augurs well for Nelsons's future with the Boston Symphony is an understatement and then some. This was a shrewd appointment.

Symphony Hall, Boston (modelled after Vienna and Amsterdam) sounds wonderful, too, the thunderous restatement of the DSCH motif at the heart of the finale packing a huge punch and preparing us for the fireworks of the coda, where defiant timpani have almost the last word with it. Almost, but not quite. Stalin may have been dead but his pernicious legacy was very much alive.

Source: Edward Seckerson (gramophone.co.uk)



Chamber
















Alban Berg: Lyric Suite | Egon Wellesz: Sonnets – Emerson String Quartet, Renée Fleming (Decca)

Ludwig van Beethoven: Complete works for cello and piano – Xavier Phillips, François-Frédéric Guy (Evidence Classics)

Johannes Brahms: String Quartets Nos. 1 & 3 – Artemis Quartet (Erato)

Michael Tippett: String Quartets – Heath Quartet (Wigmore Hall Live)

Anton Bruckner: Quintet & Quartet – Fitzwilliam String Quartet (Linn)

Franz Schubert: String Quintet, Lieder – Quatuor Ébène, Gautier Capuçon, Matthias Goerne (Erato)


...and the winner is
Michael Tippett: String Quartets – Heath Quartet (Wigmore Hall Live)













Less forcefully than The Lindsays, yet with more momentum than the Tippett Quartet on Naxos, the Heath Quartet's Tippett exemplifies how ideas of Beethoven's quartets in performance, and string quartet-playing more widely, have evolved over the last four decades. Yes, Beethoven, not only Tippett, for these works and these performances are unimaginable without a lived understanding of the medium as civilised arena for conflict and resolution, to which both composers cleaved to the last.

Whether from historically informed awareness or simply the experience of living and working in the here and almost-now, London 2013-2014, they bring more rhetorical breath than their colleagues to the spacious introduction of the Third Quartet and the halting, flowering lyricism of the First Quartet's slow movement. Authentically Tippettian life-force surges through the Second here, still the best-known of the cycle. The Heaths positively skip through the first movement's playful heterophony, much harder than it sounds, before alighting on a finely judged, downbeat conclusion in another modern interpretation of Tippett's heritage from Beethoven – think of Norrington ending the first movement of the Eighth Symphony. Technical aptitude has increased since Tippett was composing for the Zorian Quartet in the middle of the last century, to the point where the challenge of rhythmic complexity in the Third's fugues or the First's finale can hardly be heard in the playing but must be reimagined by the listener, like the opening bassoon solo to The Rite of Spring.

Although chording is not always exact in such passages, they accumulate the confident requirement of resolution (so like Beethoven in this way, Sibelius too) that comes, in these live recordings, with a heightened sense of inevitability and satisfaction compared to studio-bound productions. The Wigmore hush – and the Heaths' response to it – is most beneficial in the long, fragile span of the Fifth's finale. Caution is thrown to the winds most memorably in the Fourth Quartet, the cycle's charged flashpoint. The Heaths maintain tension throughout, withholding arrival-points from this birth-to-life narrative, whereas The Lindsays allow breathing space in the central, Bartókian nocturne. Both approaches are persuasive, but no one has dramatised the finale's palindrome, with a spooky hall of mirrored harmonics at its centre, with the poise of the Heaths. A tremendous achievement.

Source: Peter Quantrill (gramophone.co.uk)


Contemporary
















Julian Anderson: In lieblicher Bläue, Alleluia, The Stations of the Sun – London Philharmonic Choir & Orchestra, Vladimir Jurowski (LPO)

Hans Abrahamsen: let me tell you – Barbara Hannigan, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Andris Nelsons (Winter & Winter)

Harrison Birtwistle: Angel Fighter - Andrew Watts, Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts, BBC Singers, London Sinfonietta, David Atherton (NMC)

Tristan Murail: Le Partage des eaux, Contes cruels, Sillages – BBC Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Pierre-André Valade (Aeon)

Valentin Silvestrov: To Thee We Sing – Latvian Radio Choir, Sigvards Kļava (Ondine)

Maxwell Davies: Symphony No.10 | Andrzej Panufnik: Symphony No.10 – London Symphony Chorus & Orchestra, Antonio Pappano (LSO Live)


...and the winner is
Hans Abrahamsen: let me tell you – Barbara Hannigan, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Andris Nelsons (Winter & Winter)













Hans Abrahamsen and Paul Griffiths's let me tell you, winner of both a Grawemeyer and an RPS award, is inspired by Hamlet's Ophelia and it is a richly theatrical journey. Yet that is not because it attempts to depict Shakespeare's heroine as she is traditionally understood. Instead Griffiths distilled his text for these seven interlinked songs from his novel of the same name, which (almost literally) rebuilt Ophelia as a narrator using only the words Shakespeare gave her, reordered and repeated as Griffiths saw fit.

As this filtration process is itself worked through Abrahamsen's half-hour score, however, the idea has undergone another transformation. The spare yet pregnant lines of text meet Abrahamsen's finely spun textures and each word feels felt and weighed in music. Possibly you don't even need to know that Barbara Hannigan is singing Ophelia's words any more, yet her vehemence and passion suggest she thinks justice is finally being done to a woman who never did get much chance to tell her side of the story.

Hannigan premiered the piece in 2013 (then it was performed by the Berlin Philharmonic under Andris Nelsons; now the Latvian has recorded it with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra) and had reportedly coached the composer on the intricacies of vocal music for what was his first sung work. One imagines these sessions produced the use of stile concitato emphases on repeated syllables, a flick of Monteverdi added to a more usual Hannigan repertoire of jarring leaps and plunges across her formidable range.

Alongside this, the Danish composer's sound world is a mass of glinting detail. There are prominent parts for glockenspiel (struck and bowed), celesta and vibraphone, and ear-tickling swerves between microtonal clusters and more recognisable Romantic echoes. To the line "A robin will tune his bells", in the vast fifth song, there is a ravishing blur of downward lines, and if it does sound like (rather psychedelic) ringing, by the time the verse reaches its end – "glass in which there are showers of light" – the music cracks into a myriad of colours, as if refracted from a broken shard.

The Bard's Ophelia drowned in the brook; this one wanders into the snow, her tread hypnotically evoked by paper softly rubbed around the skin of a bass drum. It's a tiny, tragic Winterreise, but its final sung echoes are defiant: "I will go on". The rest is silence.

Source: Neil Fisher (gramophone.co.uk)


To be continued / Συνεχίζεται


See also / Δείτε επίσης


Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part IX. Nominations and Awards: Instrumental & Recording of the Year

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part VII. Nominations and Awards: Concerto, Recital

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part VI. Nominations and Awards: Opera, Choral, Solo Vocal


Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part V. Nominations and Awards: Baroque Instrumental, Baroque Vocal, Early Music


Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part IV. Special Awards 2016 | Lifetime Achievement: Christa Ludwig | Special Achievement: BBC Radio 3 | Label of the Year: Warner Classics


Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part III. Special Awards 2016 | Young Artist of the Year: Benjamin Appl


Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part II. Special Awards 2016 | Artist of the Year: Daniil Trifonov


Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part I. All of the news from an inspiring and moving awards ceremony


&


ECHO KLASSIK Awards 2016

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