The winners of the Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2020, regarded as the Oscars of classical music, have been revealed. Tonight’s virtual ceremony was hosted by Gramophone’s Editor-in-Chief James Jolly and mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey from Glyndebourne. Deutsche Grammophon and Decca Classics triumphed with four prizes – scroll down to find out the winners of the Gramophone Awards 2020.
Recording of the Year
The coveted Recording of the Year prize, and the Orchestral award, went to Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica for their debut Deutsche Grammophon recording of Mieczysław Weinberg’s Symphonies Nos 2 & 21. Weinberg (1919-96) is a Polish composer, once reportedly described by Shostakovich as “the best composer you’ve never heard”, whose music is enjoying something of a renaissance, in large part thanks to this recording, released in Weinberg’s centenary year.
In her acceptance speech, Mirga said, “Seven years ago I hadn’t heard of the name of Mieczysław Weinberg. During the years since he has become one of the most important composers for me. He is the composer I would like to stay on for the rest of my life. I think that in days of ideological search and loss that we are living through right now, Weinberg stands as a symbol of humanism. His life and work are huge inspirations. Every score I’ve encountered so far is a masterwork. Words by Sandor Végh come to mind: “I don’t make Mozart. Mozart makes me.” I would say the say the same about Weinberg. It’s not that we or I am doing anything with Weinberg. He is doing something with us.”
The event featured performances from past and present winners of the Gramophone Awards including pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, who won the Concerto award for his Decca Classics recording Chopin Piano Concertos with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and conductor Elim Chan.
The Contemporary Award went to Thomas Adès’ Deutsche Grammophon recording Adès Conducts Adès featuring the composer’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra and Totentanz recorded with Kirill Gerstein, Mark Stone, Christianne Stotijn and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Orchestra of the Year
The Philadelphia Orchestra was named Orchestra of the Year at the Gramophone Awards 2020 in the only award decided entirely by a public vote. The orchestra and its charismatic music director, conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, released a new recording of Mahler’s Symphony No.8 on Deutsche Grammophon earlier this year.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Israeli-American violinist and conductor Itzhak Perlman was bestowed with the Lifetime Achievement Award. One of his students from Juilliard, Randall Goosby, gave a heartfelt speech about studying with “the greatest violinist who’s ever lived”. The composer John Williams also paid tribute to Perlman in a speech, saying, “This Award is certainly the reflection of decades of many great recordings that you’ve made …It’s recognition of this great work that this Award comes to you as it should. I hope you can enjoy the significance of it, and recognise that these recordings have reached millions of people around the world who love you and love the spirit of the art that you’ve given them for so long.”
Artist of the Year
Having already won this year’s Instrumental Award for his Sony Classical recording Beethoven Complete Piano Sonatas, Igor Levit was also named Artist of the Year at the Gramophone Awards 2020. Welsh soprano Natalya Romaniw was named Young Artist of the Year following an impressive season of major role debuts.
The newly created award for Concept Album went to From the Ground Up: The Chaconne by Hugo Ticciati and o/modernt. Alpha Classics was named Label of the Year. Gramophone’s Special Achievement Award went to Robert Bahr, the visionary founder of the Swedish label BIS. This year’s Gramophone Classical Music Awards also featured a special Beethoven 250 Award that went to the pianist Martin Helmchen, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Andrew Manze for their recording of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos Nos 2 and 5 on Alpha.
To find out more about the Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2020 visit www.gramophone.co.uk