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Gramophone Shortlist Big On Small Labels

This Decca recording is one of the few major label albums to be nominated for a <em>Gramophone</em> award this year.
This Decca recording is one of the few major label albums to be nominated for a Gramophone award this year.

People love to debate the importance — or lack thereof — of the Grammy Awards. Watching the wearisome telecasts, you have no idea classical music is even a concern. Still, most classical musicians will tell you it's still a pretty big deal to actually win a Grammy.

But the Grammys aren't the only game in classical music. It's also quite an honor to win a Gramophone Award. The British have their own classical awards, the most important of which are doled out each fall by the venerable Gramophone magazine, which has been publishing record reviews and articles on classical music since 1923. Unlike the Grammys, a Gramophone award feels like it's handed out by people who really care about the music. On the other hand, the recordings they care about are routinely Brit-heavy and Eurocentric; you'll find few North American musicians on this list.

Yesterday, the magazine released its annual shortlist of nominees, a preliminary roundup of the best albums of the past year. Out of thousands of recordings issued, Gramophone determined a list of 646, and from that jurors have winnowed it down to 45 contenders. Below, you can see the top three picks in 15 categories. Plus, you can vote for artist of the year from a list of 10. All winners will be announced at a ceremony Oct. 6 at London's Dorchester Hotel.

Like the American classical Grammys of recent years, a trend toward nominating recordings by smaller labels has been emerging in the Gramophone awards. Out of the 45 recordings listed below only six are from major labels — labels like Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, EMI, Sony and RCA (the last two merged a few years back) — which used to dominate the field. For instance, in the opera category, the top three recordings come from Harmonia Mundi, Opera Rara and the London Symphony's own label LSO Live. This is clearly an era where online CD sales and downloads have leveled the playing field, toppling old-school distribution channels and brick-and-mortar record stores.

Gramophone Short List:


CPE Bach: Harpsichord Concertos

Andreas Staier; Freiburg Baroque / Müllejans (Harmonia Mundi HMC902083/84)

Handel: Concerti Grossi, Op 6

Avison Ensemble (Linn Records CKD362)

Telemann: Musique de Table

Freiburger Barockorchester (Harmonia Mundi HMC90 2042/5)


Handel: Apollo e Dafne

La Risonanza (Glossa GCD921527)

Handel: Flavio

Early Opera Company / Christian Curnyn (Chandos CHAN0773(2))

Lully: Bellerophon

Soloists; Les Talens Lyriques / Christophe Rousset (Aparté AP015)


Bartók, Grieg. R Strauss: Violin Sonatas

Vilde Frang; Michail Lifits (EMI 9476392)

Beethoven: Violin Sonatas, Vol 3

Alina Ibragimova; Cédric Tiberghien (Wigmore Hall Live WHLIVE0045)

Dvorak: String Quartets Op. 106 & 96

Pavel Haas Quartet (Supraphon SU40382)


Delius: Appalachia. The Song of the High Hills

BBC Symphony Chorus & Orchestra / Andrew Davis (Chandos CHSA5088)

Elgar: The Kingdom

Claire Rutter; Susan Bickley; John Hudson; Iain Paterson; Hallé Choir & Orchestra / Sir Mark Elder (Hallé CDHLD7526)

Macmillan: Visitatio Sepulchri. Sun-Dogs

Netherlands Radio Choir; Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic / Celso Antunes, James MacMillan (BIS BIS-SACD1719)


Bartók: Piano Concertos Nos 1-3

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet; BBC Philharmonic / Gianandrea Noseda Chandos (CHAN10610)

Debussy: Fantaisie Ravel Piano Concertos Massenet Piano works

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet; BBC Symphony Orchestra / Yan Pascal Tortelier Chandos (CHSA5084)

Reger, R Strauss: The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol. 53

Marc-André Hamelin; Berlin RSO / Ilan Volkov Hyperion (CDA67635)


Birtwistle: Night's Black Bird

Hallé Orchestra / Ryan Wigglesworth (NMC NMCD156)

D Matthews: Terrible Beauty, Op. 104; Clarinet Quartet; String Trio; String Trio No. 2; Winter Passions

Nash Ensemble (NMC NMCD152)

Music of Poul Ruders Vol. 6: Piano Concerto No. 2; Bel Canto; Serenade on the Shores of the Cosmic Ocean

Vassily Primakov; Norwegian Radio Orchestra / Thomas Søndergård; Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen; Mikko Luoma; iO Quartet (Bridge BRIDGE9336)


Agricola: Missa In myne Zyn

Capilla Flamenca / Dirk Snellings (Ricercar RIC306)

Byrd: Complete Consort Music

Phantasm (Linn Records CKD372)

Striggio: Mass in 40 Parts etc

I Fagiolini et al / Robert Hollingworth (Decca 4782734)


Beethoven: String Trios

Leonid Kogan; Rudolf Barshai; Mstislav Rostropovich (Supraphon SU40522)

Mahler/Cooke: Symphony No 10

LSO, Philharmonia / Berthold Goldschmidt (Testament SBT31457)

Monteverdi: Coronation of Poppea

Janet Baker et al Sadlers Wells Chorus and Orchestra / Raymond Leppard (Chandos CHAN3172(2))


Brahms: Handel Variations. Piano works, Opp 118 & 119

Murray Perahia (Sony Classical 88697727252)

Liszt: Harmonies du Soir

Nelson Freire (Decca 4782728)

Ravel: The Complete Solo Piano Music

Steven Osborne (Hyperion CDA67731/2)


Mozart: Die Zauberflöte

Soloists, RIAS Kammerchor; Akademie für Alte Musik / René Jacobs (Harmonia Mundi HMC902068/70)

Rossini: Ermione

Soloists; Geoffrey Matchell Choir; LPO / David Parry (Opera Rara ORC42)

Verdi: Otello

Soloists; London Symphony Chorus; LSO / Sir Colin Davis (LSO Live LSO0700)


Shostakovich: Symphony No 10

RLPO / Vasily Petrenko (Naxos 8572461)

Suk: Asrael Symphony

Czech PO / Sir Charles Mackerras (Supraphon SU40432)

English Spring: Bax, Bridge, Delius - orchestral works

Hallé / Sir Mark Elder (Hallé CDHLL7528)


"Ne me refuse pas" French Opera Arias

Marie-Nicole Lemieux; Orchestre National de France / Fabien Gabel (Naïve V5201)

"Diva, Divo" (various composers)

Joyce DiDonato; L'Opéra National de Lyon / Kazushi Ono (Virgin Classics 6419860)

Verismo Arias (various composers)

Jonas Kaufmann; Chorus and Orchestra of the Santa Cecilia Academy, Rome / Antonio Pappano (Decca 4782258)


RR Bennett: Songs before Sleep

Sophie Daneman; Susan Bickley; Hulett; Iain Burnside (NMC Recordings NMCD155)

Britten: Songs & Proverbs of William Blake

Gerald Finley; Julius Drake (Hyperion CDA67778)

Wolf: Italienisches Liederbuch

Christoph Prégardien; Julia Kleiter; Hilko Dumno (Challenge Classics CC72378)


Andris Nelsons – Conductor CBSO

Gustavo Dudamel – conductor LA Phil

Ivan Fischer – conductor Budapest Fest. Orch

Jordi Savall – gamba, conductor, etc

Mitsuko Uchida – pianist

Lang Lang – pianist

Alison Balsam – trumpet

Ilina Ibragimova – violinist

Jonas Kaufmann – tenor

Berlin Philharmonic - orchestra


Carlos Kleiber: Traces to Nowhere

A film by Eric Schultz (Arthaus 101553)

Carlos Kleiber: I am lost to the world

A film by Georg Wübbolt (C Major 705608)

André Previn: A bridge between two worlds

A film by Lilian Birnbaum and Peter Stephan Jungk (C Major 703208)


Britten: Death in Venice

Soloists; Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro La Fenice / Bruno Bartoletti (dir Pier Luigi Pizzi) Dynamic 33608

Mahler: Symphony No 9

Lucerne Festival Orchestra / Claudio Abbado (ACCENTUS ACC20214)

Verdi: Don Carlos

Soloists; Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden / Antonio Pappano (EMI Classics 6316099)

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit

Tom Huizenga is a producer for NPR Music. He contributes a wide range of stories about classical music to NPR's news programs and is the classical music reviewer for All Things Considered. He appears regularly on NPR Music podcasts and founded NPR's classical music blog Deceptive Cadence in 2010.