August 24, 2015

Warner Classics & Erato sweep ECHO Klassik Awards with a cool dozen major prizes

Joyce DiDonato, Artemis Quartet, Alexandre Tharaud, Emmanuel Pahud & Philippe Jaroussky among the big winners.

Warner Classics and Erato has taken the lion's share in the 2015 ECHO Klassik Awards, the prestigious German classical music prizes announced today. Artists from the two labels claimed a total of twelve accolades for excellence in classical recording and performance.



One of the most coveted prizes, Singer of the Year, was scooped up by American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato. Every time it seems her stardom couldn't possibly rise any higher, DiDonato astonishes opera-lovers and fans all over again, reaching an ever-wider audience. This time it was with her album of rare bel canto arias Stella di Napoli - Star of Naples.

"I am beyond honoured to receive the ECHO Klassik Award as singer of the year, especially for this project that has meant so much to me," said the Kansas-born diva in a statement, "One of the great privileges I’ve had as a musician is to be afforded the luxury to record long-forgotten works, and being given the opportunity to shine a spotlight on brilliant but overlooked composers such as Carafa, Pacini, and Mercadante has been a joy."

The accolade comes the week before the release of DiDonato's new double album Joyce & Tony, live from the 2014-15 season opening of Wigmore Hall with Sir Antonio Pappano at the piano.

Two Erato quartets took home awards: the French Quatuor Ebène (Ensemble of the Year, for their album Brazil) and the German Artemis Quartett (Mendelssohn, Chamber Music Recording of the Year). The latter is a particularly touching tribute to an ensemble that last month lost its viola player, the late, lamented Friedemann Weigle. "Joie de vivre and fond farewells as well as death and despair can be heard in the Mendelssohn Quartets we recorded. We couldn't have known at the time how much those opposing themes would hit home for us," wrote the remaining members of the Artemis.

"We dedicate this ECHO to our dear friend and violist Friedemann Weigle, who left us in July 2015 after a long illness. May he rest in peace." The group's final recording featuring Weigle, Brahms Quartets, will be released in September.

Two pianists from Erato and Warner Classics picked up prizes: the Polish Piotr Anderszewski for his Bach English Suites (Solo Recording of the Year), and Frenchman Alexandre Tharaud (Concert Recording of the Year, Jeunehomme Mozart and Haydn).

Likewise, two ECHO Klassik gave a nod to two Warner Classics debuts: tenor Bryan Hymel (Newcomer of the Year, Héroique) and the daring young British ensemble Aurora Orchestra (the 'Classical without Borders' prize for Road Trip). "We want to thank all the performers who contributed to such a memorable project, as well as Warner Classics for having been imaginative and bold enough to support a recording that others might have dismissed as being too eclectic or unusual," said the group.


ECHO Klassik acknowledged two major projects, with the Maria Callas Remastered Edition taking Editorial Achievement of the Year for the presentation of this luxurious boxed set and the painstaking work of Abbey Road Studio's sound engineers to re-master La Callas' studio recordings in HD for the first time. Philippe Jaroussky and his superlative cast-mates received Best World Premiere Recording for their modern revival of Steffani's Baroque opera Niobe.

Congratulations to all the nominees. The full list of Erato and Warner Classics ECHO winners below makes for a wonderfully comprehensive Best of 2014 playlist. The awards ceremony will take place in October. More information about the ECHO Klassik Awards here.

Singer of the Year: Joyce DiDonato  – Stella di Napoli

Ensemble of the Year: Quatuor Ebène – Brazil

Newcomer of the Year (Male singer): Bryan Hymel – Héroïque

Classics Without Borders: Aurora Orchestra Road Trip

Symphony Recording of the Year (20th/21st century): Dutilleux (Christian Tetzlaff, Orchestre de Paris/Paavo Järvi)

Concerto Recording of the Year (18th century): Vilde Frang – Mozart

Concerto Recording of the Year (18th century): Alexandre Tharaud – Jeunehomme

Concerto Recording of the Year (19th century): Emmanuel Pahud – Révolution

Solo Recording of the Year (17th/18th-century, piano): Piotr Anderszewski – Bach: English Suites 1, 3, 5

Chamber Music Recording of the Year (19th century, strings): Artemis Quartett – Mendelssohn

Editorial Achievement of the Year: Maria Callas Remastered Edition

World Premiere Recording of the Year: Philippe Jaroussky – Steffani: Niobe