Wednesday, December 21, 2016
JDCMB CHOCOLATE, SILVER & GINGER STRIPES AWARDS 2016
Hello there, come on in. It's at my place, cyberversion, this year. None of us were in the mood for a cyberposhplace. I'm sorry to report that my mother-in-law, Gisela, died two days ago. She was 91 and had had a turbulent yet very good and very principled life. Aged 13 she was sent to Britain from Berlin on the Kindertransport in 1938; she never saw her parents and one of her brothers again as they were murdered in the Holocaust. She was tough, scrupulously fair, intellectually rigorous and an absolute brick in a crisis. We will miss her very much. Please toast her in some cyberbubbly.
This year has had more than its fair share of upsets and I'm afraid we can't expect anything to get better any time soon, so we'd better celebrate the good things while we can. It's the winter solstice and let me remind you that every year on 21 December we have the JDCMB Chocolate Silver & Ginger Stripes Awards to thank everyone who has made wonderful music in the last 12 months and helped to keep our spirits alive. It's good plain fun, the choices are entirely personal, it serves as a retrospective of the year and all you need is a smile and a willingness to enjoy some great music.
Quiet, please...quiet... thank you. First, a big round of applause for every musician who has touched the hearts of his or her audience this year. You're wonderful. We love you. Thank you for all your inspirational music-making.
Now, would the following artists please approach the platform where Ricki and Cosi are ensconced upon their silken cushions. They will let you stroke their chocolate and silver fur and are ready to give you each a very special purr.
ICON OF THE YEAR
Yehudi Menuhin, whose centenary has been lavishly celebrated.
PIANIST OF THE YEAR
The incomparable Martha Argerich, whose Schumann Piano Concerto at the Royal Philharmonic's 70th anniversary concert I won't forget in a hurry. Here's some footage of her playing Liszt in 1966.
STRING PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Please step forward, Renaud Capuçon: one of the finest advocates for the Schumann Violin Concerto. Thank you for bringing it the passion, virility and dignity it deserves in your performance with the LSO a few weeks ago.
SINGER OF THE YEAR
Renée Fleming. Please don't go just yet!
CONDUCTOR OF THE YEAR
Andris Nelsons. His Rosenkavalier is overriding pretty much everything right now.
FESTIVAL OF THE YEAR
The Munich Opera Festival, and not only because I got to say hello to a rather wonderful tenor at the last-night party. What a feast of treats this is: the greatest singers meet the most interesting and intelligent of productions and we can gulp it all down as greedily as humanly possible.
YOUTHFUL ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Sheku Kanneh-Mason, the thrilling young cellist who is now the BBC Young Musician of the Year.
ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Zuzana Ružičková, the only person ever to have made me fall in love with the harpsichord. She survived Terezín, Auschwitz, Belsen, the Czech communist regime and censure by leading lights of early music puritanism, but she is nearly 90 and her Bach - now released on CD for the first time, by Warner Classics - is the most radiant and life-affirming that I know. She is also my INTERVIEWEE OF THE YEAR. I have articles about her coming out shortly in tomorrow's JC, and another in BBC Music Magazine. I've met many inspiring people, but none more so than this remarkable soul.
And one STUFFED TURKEY
Sadly, Patricia Kopatchinskaja in the Schumann Violin Concerto back in January. Just because Schumann was about to have his final nervous breakdown when he wrote it, that doesn't mean you have to play it as if you are the first Mrs Rochester.
PROUDEST MOMENTS: 1) Ghost Variations coming into being and being named Books Choice in BBC Music Magazine's latest issue (which is out tomorrow). 2) Performing Alicia's Gift with Viv McLean at the Wigmore Hall. 3) Roxanna Panufnik has finished composing the "people's opera" we've been writing together for Garsington, Silver Birch, and hearing it through for the first time was astonishing. She's produced some very beautiful stuff, it packs quite a punch and we hope you're going to love it when it hits the boards in July.
WEIRDEST MOMENTS: 1) In said Alicia's Gift concert, actually playing the piano in the Wigmore Hall. 2) The paper I'd written for for 12 years, which used to be a great national newspaper, decided to shut its print operation, sell its profitable offshoot and make a heap of people redundant. Discovering this by reading about it in another paper was pretty bloody weird.
Have a very happy Christmas, dear JDCMB readers, and may 2017 bring much music and joy.