Saturday, January 28, 2012

Awards 2011 - Choral

Rossini: Stabat Mater
soloists; Orchestra e Coro dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia/Antonio Pappano

A lament from Richard Osborne in Gramophone: "We have down the years been rather clutching at straws where recordings of Rossini's two great choral works are concerned. The Petite Messe solennelle has had just one memorable recording; the Stabat mater has had none... [dramatic pause] Until now". (ellipsis and dramatic pause added for gratuitous effect). Yes, Richard Osborne is impressed all right: "This is one of the great choral recordings". Let's turn to Ian Julier in IRR, who begins: "Given its patchy and complicated composition history, extending over a decade and outlined with the clarity and precision of a detective novel's denourment in Richard Osborne's excellent note, the cohesive and unified achievement of this much-loved choral work is" - wait, what? Did he just say Richard Osborne wrote the booklet note? The same Richard Osborne who reviewed the album in Gramophone? Oh dear oh dear. Fortunately, other reviewers liked it too, such as Simon Thompson on MusicWeb: "If you want the Stabat Mater as a prayer then look somewhere else, but I found this disc absolutely enthralling: after the final bars had stormed out of my speakers I even found myself letting out an involuntary "bravo"!"

Delius: Appalachia; The Song of the High Hills
soloists; BBC Symphony Chorus & Orchestra/Andrew Davis

"Ikon II"
Holst Singers/Stephen Layton

Cherubini: Requiem in C minor
Kammerchor Stuttgart; Hofkapelle Stuttgart/Frieder Bernius

Howells: The Winchester Service and other works
Winchester Cathedral Choir/Andrew Lumsden

Despite Richard Osborne's ethical lapse, the Rossini earned its place, though Andrew Davis's Delius wasn't far behind. I think this is the first appearance in the Nereffid's Guide Awards for the Carus label. This seemed to be a stronger year for choral albums than usual - at least, there seemed to be more discs that reviewers were consistently enthusiastic about. Maybe that's just a vague perception on my part. I don't know. Leave me alone.

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