Entertainment & Arts

Rare recording of Verdi's Aida wins BBC Music Magazine prize

Sir Antonio Pappano conducts the Orchestra e Coro dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Image copyright Warner Classics
Image caption The recording was made in Rome's Auditorium Parco della Musica

A lavish interpretation of Verdi's Aida, conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano, has won recording of the year at the BBC Music Magazine Awards.

Captured over six days in Italy last February, the album is one of the first full-length studio recordings of an opera for almost a decade.

BBC Music Magazine called it "a major triumph", while Sir Antonio praised his "wonderful cast".

The awards, now in their 11th year, are voted for by the public.

The magazine noted a "certain poignancy" in the award for instrumental performance - which went to David Watkin for his album of JS Bach's Cello Suites.

The record was his last as a performer as, shortly after finishing the disc, he was diagnosed with the skin condition scleroderma, which meant he could no longer play his instrument.

"This award makes a wonderful end of a chapter in my life," Watkin said. "I'm still performing Bach, but now with a baton. As the years pass, music becomes more about what's in your head and heart, and less about what's in your hands."

Image caption Violinist Rachel Podger won her second BBC Music Magazine award in the concerto category

Other winners included Sakari Oramo and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, who won the Orchestral Award for their "thrilling" recording of Nielsen's Symphonies Nos 1 & 3.

British violinist Rachel Podger took home the concerto award for her "wonderfully vivacious" playing on Vivaldi's L'Estro Armonico (Harmonic Inspiration) concertos.

And British choir Tenebrae won the choral award for the third time, thanks to their recent album of Bruckner and Brahms motets.

Conductor Nigel Short said the vocal ensemble never felt overwhelmed by the task of taking on the German-language works - traditionally the preserve of German choirs.

"People are always taken aback by the power of Tenebrae," he said. "There are only 18 voices, but they can pack a punch."

Image caption Sir Antonio Pappano is musical director of The Royal Opera

The winning recording of Aida featured Anja Harteros in the title role, and Jonas Kaufmann as the Egyptian warrior Radames.

It was performed in Rome's Auditorium Parco della Musica, which was designed by Renzo Piano, the architect behind London's Shard skyscraper.

The concert hall's renowned acoustics were able to accommodate the spatial effects - including an off-stage chorus - that Verdi called for in his score.

"Several things came together in this recording," Sir Antonio told BBC Music Magazine. "Right place, right time, right singers, right conductor, right orchestra and chorus, right hall."

The winners were announced at a ceremony at Kings Place, London, hosted by BBC Radio 4's James Naughtie and BBC Music Magazine Editor Oliver Condy.

"The thrill of listening to, shortlisting and then inviting our readers to vote on the finest discs of the year never diminishes," said Condy.

"The sheer variety of this year's winners - from the intimate journey of one man and his cello in JS Bach to the vast forces assembled for Verdi's Aida - simply underlines the vibrant state of classical music recording today."

Full list of winners

Recording of the year / Best opera recording

Verdi: Aida

Orchestra e Coro dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, et al

Conductor: Sir Antonio Pappano,

Best orchestral recording

Nielsen: Symphonies Nos 1 & 3

Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra

Conductor: Sakari Oramo

Best choral recording

Brahms and Bruckner: Choral motets and Aequalis Nos 1 & 2


Conductor: Nigel Short

Best concerto recording

Vivaldi: L'estro armonico

Rachel Podger (violin) / Brecon Baroque

Best chamber recording

Smetana: String Quartets Nos 1 & 2

Pavel Haas Quartet

Best vocal recording

Green - Mélodies françaises sur les poems de Verlaine

Philippe Jaroussky (counter-tenor), Nathalie Stutzmann (contralto), Jerôme Ducros (piano), Quatuor Ebène

Best instrumental recording

JS Bach: Cello Suites

David Watkin (cello)

Best newcomer

Mozart, Verdi & Ives: String Quartets

Schumann Quartet

Best premiere

MacMillan: One; Oboe Concerto; plus works by Britten and Vaughan Williams

Nicholas Daniel (oboe); Britten Sinfonia

Conductor / Composer: James MacMillan

Best DVD

Poulenc: Dialogues des Carmélites

Petibon, Koch, Gens, Piau, Plowright et al

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