Gramophone Names Finalists for Record of Year Award

Classic Arts News   Gramophone Names Finalists for Record of Year Award
Gramophone magazine named six finalists for its annual Record of the Year award in London yesterday.

Nominees include the late French baritone G_rard Souzay, nominated for a collection of French melodies recorded in the 1950s; pianist Leif Ove Andsnes' disc of Grieg and Schumann concertos, with Berlin Philharmonic; and Concerto Italiano's recording of Vivaldi's Vespri Solenni, led by Rinaldo Alessandrini.

For the first time, each nomination is accompanied by a celebrity endorsement, intended to raise the visibility of the awards. For the month-long period leading up to the awards ceremony on October 1, actor Simon Callow will promote the Concerto Italiano recording in the media; gold medal-winning Olympic oarsman James Cracknell will sing Andsnes's praises. BBC television anchor Natasha Kaplinsky is backing the Souzay album.

The rest of nominees and their celebrity boosters are:

Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro with Angelika Kirschlager and Simon Keenlyside, led by Ren_ Jacobs. Endorsed by actress Joanna Lumley, a star of the sitcom Absolutely Fabulous.

Orlando Gibbon's Consorts for Viols, recorded by Phantasm. Endorsed by BBC News journalist John Simpson.

Arnold Bax's Symphonies, recorded by the BBC Philharmonic led by Vernon Handley. Endorsed by Conservative Member of Parliament Michael Portillo.

The introduction of celebrity endorsements follows a more dramatic change in format last year for the Gramophone Awards, which are among the most prestigious in classical music. Before 2003, dozens of recordings were nominated in various categories, and the Record of the Year was chosen from among the category winners. Last year, Gramophone began narrowing the nominees to six before making a public announcement.

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