The Takács Quartet won the disc of the year award at the inaugural BBC Music Awards, presented by the magazine yesterday in London.
The Takács was honored for its three-disc recording of Beethoven's late string quartets, the final installment in its complete Beethoven cycle. The set also won in the chamber music category.
In its citation, the magazine's jury wrote, “Hearing the Takács in their beautiful and challenging Beethoven is like tasting a vintage brew which has mellowed over the years, yet which is still excitingly fresh on the palate.”
Conductor Paavo Järvi and the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra won the orchestral award for a recording of Grieg's Peer Gynt. A recording of Vivaldi's Orlando Furioso led by Jean-Christophe Spinosi won the opera award; soloists included soprano Jennifer Larmore.
The vocal award went to baritone Thomas Quasthoff for his recording of Bach Cantatas, which also won a Grammy Award. A King's Consort disc of choral works by Michael Haydn, conducted by Robert King, won the choral award. Pianist Boris Berezovsky won the instrumental award for a live recording pairing Chopin etudes with Leopold Godowsky's transcriptions.
Violinist Julia Fischer was named best newcomer on the strength of her recording of solo Bach sonatas and partitas. A recording of Magnus Lindberg's Clarinet Concerto by clarinetist Kari Kriikku and the FInnish Radio Symphony, conducted by Sakari Oramo, won best premiere recording.
DVDs of Kaija Saariajo's opera L'Amour de Loin and the film Yehudi Menuhin: The Violin of the Century were named best performance DVD and documentary DVD, respectively. A Deutsche Grammophon recording of music by Berio won the award for technical excellence.
A jury of critics from BBC Music and other publications chose nominees for the awards from among discs that were released in 2005 and received five stars in the magazine. The category winners were picked in a public vote; the jury selected the disc of the year and the winners of the newcomer, premiere, technical, and DVD awards.
Andy Benham, publisher of BBC Music, said, "When we announced the launch of the awards in October 2005, we said that the success or failure of them would be judged on the simple criteria of whether or not we could stimulate the market and increase sales of classical music CDs. Looking at the sales figures of the nominated discs to date, I’m delighted that both record companies and key retailers have reported excellent uptake of the CDs. Now that the names of the winners are out there, we’re hoping that the uplift in the market that we’ve engendered will continue, if not accelerate."