Gramophone awards honour Claudio Abbado with one final prize

Bernard Haitink, Paavo Järvi and Joseph Moog among other winners in the classical music magazine’s annual awards

Three years ago he was honoured with the lifetime achievement award, but this week conductor Claudio Abbado made a final posthumous appearance at the Gramophone awards as his last recording – Bruckner’s symphony no 9, with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra - was awarded the prestigious recording of the year prize.

The top award was announced at a ceremony in London on 17 September and was presented to the late conductor’s son, Sebastian, and the president of Deutsche Grammophon Mark Wilson.

“It is very special on so many counts,” said Gramophone’s editor-in-chief James Jolly, of the disc. “Beauty, intensity, intelligence, power – all come together to make for a lasting experience of huge rewards.”

The recording of Bruckner’s final, unfinished symphony also won in the orchestral category, and is taken from a series of performances Abbado and Lucerne Festival Orchestra gave in the last year of his life. The performances have “a transparency to them, which is beautifully captured on this disc ... It’s a soundworld that belies all the cliches about Bruckner’s scoring and the ponderousness of his symphonic thinking ... In this final musical testament, time seems infinitely elastic, and everything has all the space it needs,” wrote Andrew Clements, reviewing the disc the Guardian in July 2014.

Another of the conducting world’s legendary figures was also honoured at Thursday’s ceremony. Dutch conductor Bernard Haitink, who celebrated his 86th birthday earlier this year, was presented with the Lifetime Achievement. Haitink, in London this week for engagements with the London Symphony Orchestra, accepted the award from Sir Thomas Allen. He is one of the greats of our time, said Jolly.

The label of the year award went to the Amsterdam-based Channel Classics. “They combine superb A&R with a focus of high-quality sound recording,” said Jolly. The label’s highlights this year have included a radiant Mahler 9 recorded by Ivan Fischer and his Budapest Festival Orchestra and Brecon Baroque and Rachel’s Podger’s Vivaldi that leaves one “breathless with delight”.

Joseph Moog.
Joseph Moog Photograph: PR

The 27-year-old German pianist Joseph Moog won young artist of the year; the judges hailed the imaginative approach he brings to programming and “a staggering technique [that] is always used to musical results”. Moog showcased both at the ceremony with a performance of Godowsky’s The Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes from Die Fledermaus. Winners in the chamber award category the Pavel Haas Quartet also performed on the evening, and winners Carolyn Sampson and Sarah Connolly (in the recital and choral categories, respectively) brought the ceremony to a conclusion with a duet from Handel’s Judas Maccabeus.

Paavo Jarvi.
Paavo Järvi. Photograph: Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images

The artist of the year award, chosen through international public vote, went to conductor Paavo Järvi. Paying tribute to the Estonian conductor, Jolly said he was “an interpreter of imagination who brings something resh to everything he tackles”. Järvi declared himself humbled and proud by the honour.

“When I am in the recording studio all thought is of the ‘here’ and ‘now’ - the music and the musicians. It’s easy to forget that the audience is as important a part of the whole experience because they will be the ones who decide whether your recording should stand the test of time … or not! So from now on I shall go into the studio reminding myself of the music, the musicians and audiences around the world who voted for me to receive this award,” said Järvi.

Full details of this year’s award winners is at


Imogen Tilden

The GuardianTramp

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