Friday, October 05, 2007

Raising a glass at the Gramophones

Spent Wednesday at the Gramophone Awards. Suffice it to say that the Dorchester is a splendid venue, the food was superb and the champagne flowed. More importantly, so did some very astute prizes.

I was particularly pleased to see the veteran record producer Christopher Raeburn being presented with a Special Achievement accolade. We miss people in the industry with his level of artistic judgment, musical idealism and integrity. Bravo.

Also thrilled that Jonas Kaufmann's CD of Strauss Lieder won its category, with some strong words from the relevant commentator about how fabulous this glorious tenor is.

Speaking of tenors, who should turn up but Juan Diego Phwoarez! Montserrat Caballe was to be presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award, but apparently her taxi was involved in an accident on the way to the airport. She's unhurt, but missed the plane. JDF, as her colleague and friend, accepted it very graciously on her behalf. He also accepted a prize for one of his own recordings, too: the rarely heard Rossini opera Matilde di Shabran. (Last night he gave a concert in the Rosenblatt Recital series. I couldn't get in. Nobody could.)

Brahms did well. There was a prize for the German Requiem from the Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by Simon Rattle, with soloists Dorothea Roschmann and Thomas Quasthoff, and for Nelson Freire's recording of the two piano concertos, which happily scooped Record of the Year. A true artist, Freire: a musician of honesty, finesse and intelligence through and through.

Julia Fischer, the wonderful young German violinist, was Artist of the Year, voted for by millions of listeners to some 15 radio stations around the world. Young Artist of the Year was Vassily Petrenko, the youthful Russian who's currently making the kind of waves at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic that would please a surfing champion.

But the show was rather stolen by the Instrumental Award: Steven Isserlis's Bach Cello Suites. Steven was on tour, so he sent a friend to pick up the prize. The friend was none other than ace comedian Barry Humphries. And it didn't take him long to have the entire ballroom in stitches with jokes such as one about how a friend mixed up the words 'falsetto' and 'fellatio'. That word must have been a first for the Gramophone Awards...

There are many more prizes and you can read the full list here.

UPDATE, 6.07pm: The Overgrown Path appears to think we should all have stayed home to improve our souls by reading Adorno instead. He is right to imply that contemporary music did not have a major presence in the selection. One award was presented for a CD of music written in the past decade - it went to Julian Anderson - but only one. I would love to see the huge variety of contemporary music being encouraged and celebrated with more prominence at such events. We should perhaps note that the full title of these awards is The Classic FM Gramophone Awards.