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Gramophone Awards 2010 – Naxos and Distributed Labels’ Albums

November 2, 2010


Kansas-born mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato beat off formidable competition to be named Gramophone readers’ favourite for 2010

Joyce DiDonato

An alumna of Houston Grand Opera Studio, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato has won international prominence in operas by Rossini, Handel, and Mozart, as well as in high-profile world premières. In addition to appearing on the world’s major opera stages, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera and Santa Fe Opera, as well as in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Geneva, London, Milan, Munich, Paris, Tokyo, Vienna and Berlin, she has given recitals and concerts at Wigmore Hall, London, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, and Carnegie Hall, and with the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Orchestre National de Paris, St Luke’s Chamber Orchestra, and St Paul Chamber Orchestra. She has had considerable success at the Rossini Festival in Pesaro and at the Salzburg Festival, and received the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Singer of the Year award, the Metropolitan Opera’s Beverly Sills Award as well as the Richard Tucker Award; second place in Plácido Domingo’s Operalia, and prizes from the George London Foundation, the ARIA Award Foundation, and the Sullivan Foundation.

Joyce DiDonato performs on these outstanding albums:

ADAMO Little Women
Houston Grand Opera
Naxos DVD 2.110613

Based on Louisa May Alcott’s enduringly popular novel about the adventures of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy in civil-war era New England, Mark Adamo’s opera Little Women has been performed in more than 70 national and international engagements since its 1998 première by Houston Grand Opera and has achieved the status of an American classic. This recording, with a superb cast expertly directed for television, vividly brings to life an opera that The New Yorker hailed as ‘A beautifully crafted work, brilliantly molding Alcott’s tale into operatic form’, and The New York Times dubbed a ‘masterpiece’.

ROSSINI La Cenerentola
Rossini in Wildbad Festival
Naxos CD 8.660191–92

‘finely conducted by Alberto Zedda, it’s a dark, ascerbic performance with the emphasis very much on social satire and human cruelty rather than brilliance and charm. Ensemble values are high, and Joyce DiDonato is exceptional in the title role, technically staggering and deeply touching in her characterisation.’
The Guardian
‘The singers are marvellous…the sensational Cinderella of Joyce Didonato, dazzling in her final rondo variations’
The Sunday Times

MOZART Don Giovanni
Royal Opera House
Opus Arte Blu-ray OABD7028D

‘Mozart’s greatest opera and perhaps the greatest opera period has had many video versions but this one is exceptional both musically and visually. Recorded just last year at London’s Royal Opera House, it features a top flight cast of singers who look the parts they play and are good actors as well. Joyce DiDonato and Miah Persson are standouts as Donna Elvira and Zerlina.’
Audiophile Audition
‘one of the best Donna Annas I’ve heard, Marina Poplavskaya. Kyle Ketelson as Leporello walks just the right fine line between the comedic and dramatic aspects of his character, and Joyce DiDonato’s Donna Elvira is suitably the moral center of the piece.’
DVD Talk

Also available on Opus Arte DVD OA1009D
‘Of the three ladies, vocal honors go to Joyce DiDonato’s Donna Elvira. I was surprised at how large and how comfortable with the higher reaches of the music her voice seemed.’
‘Best of all, though, is the fiery DiDonato, who enters with rifle in hand and who continues to dominate whenever she’s present: this, in the end, is Elvira’s story.’

ROSSINI Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Paris National Opera

The internationally selected cast features one of the leading lyric mezzos in the Rossini repertoire, American Joyce DiDonato as Rosina and German-Italian star tenor Roberto Sacca as her seducer, Count Almaviva.


Jubilant Sykes, celebrant • Asher Edward Wulfman, boy soprano
Morgan State University Choir • Peabody Children’s Chorus
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop, music director and conductor


‘As one of Bernstein’s last students, Alsop has tirelessly evangelized for this work…with her fine Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, which to my mind shows the greater understanding of its myriad styles and undergoes the more convincing and coherent dramatic arc [than other recordings]. And she is also blessed with a riveting performer in the central role of the Celebrant—the aptly named Jubilant Sykes. He throws himself into the performance heart, soul and throat…so we finally have a worthy successor to Bernstein’s own recording.’
– James Irvine, Editor, Gramophone

The following albums on Naxos and the labels we distribute either won or were finalists for 2010 Gramophone Awards in several categories. Many have also been acclaimed by other musical publications and websites:


SCHÜTZ Die Geburt unsers Herren Jesu Christi ‘Weihnachtshistorie’, Die Auferstehung unsres Herren Jesu Christi, ‘Auferstehungshistorie’
Ars Nova Copenhagen • Concerto Copenhagen
Paul Hillier, conductor

DACAPO 8.226058

‘Schütz’s Christmas Story is one of the composer’s late works, but one those closest to perfection. It comprises a narration of the biblical nativity story by a tenor in a variety of forms of recitative, interspersed with brief interludes depicting scenes including the appearance of angels, the shepherds, the three Magi and King Herod, the whole framed by longer choruses. The variety of textures and character show the sure hand of the master that the elderly composer had become. It is the musical equivalent of an Advent calendar or series of stained glass windows, and is enchanting from start to finish…The Resurrection Story is an earlier and, given the subject, an unsurprisingly somewhat more austere work…The overall effect is not as overtly dramatic as the Christmas Story but is certainly compelling and moving. The evangelist in this work is Johan Linderoth whose subtle freedom and perfect articulation of the text are close to the ideal. The other performers maintain a similar standard. Overall this is a disc which gives immense satisfaction and which is a great credit both to Paul Hillier as director of both works and to the Danish Arts Council for its support of the project.’
MusicWeb International


VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Dona Nobis Pacem, Sancta Civitas
Christina Pier, soprano
Matthew Brook, baritone
Andrew Staples, tenor
The Bach Choir • Winchester Cathedral Choristers
Winchester College Quiristers • Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
David Hill, conductor


‘These performances under David Hill are fine, responsive to the beauty and the terror…[they] impress as more impassioned than Hickox’s and the recorded sound has a keener range and depth of perspective.’
‘The high-octane emotion Vaughan Williams injected is captured here with alacrity. Keen orchestral colours and pure diction from the chorus and choristers combine with Hill’s vivid reading of both scores to make this pairing a superb new addition to collectors’ shelves.’
Choir & Organ
‘Conductor David Hill creates a beautiful nostalgic-numinous atmosphere, but he also has a keen sense of drama and whips up some thrilling climaxes’
Classic FM



Leonard Bernstein Reflections
A film by Peter Rosen
EuroArts 3078728

‘He only, it seems, needed to open his mouth and out would pour wisdom, wit and words so perfectly chosen they might have been scripted. But few documentaries work as well as this, which caught the great man during the excitement of the first retrospective of his music, from the Israel Philharmonic’
Gramophone Awards Issue
‘Peter Rosen’s compelling 50-minute film portrait was made in 1977 and seen worldwide—except in the USA, where it was not released, for some reason, until September last year, nearly two decades after Bernstein’s death in 1990. Pivotal to the documentary is this iconic genius of American music rehearsing and conducting a 1977 retrospective of his music in Tel Aviv, amazingly the first such celebration ever mounted.’
Gramophone (original review)
‘This fine film may seem a bit dated because it was made in 1977…but this exploration of Bernstein’s colorful career offers a different view and many face-to-face comments directly from him’
Audiophile Audition


Inheriting the Future of Music – Pierre Boulez and the Lucerne Festival Academy
A film by Günter Atteln and Angelika Stiehler
Featuring music by Stravinsky, Boulez, Adamek and Stockhausen
Bonus: Concert excerpts from the Lucerne Summer Festival 2009
Claude Debussy Jeux, Pierre Boulez Notations I–IV & VII, Pierre Boulez Répons
Hite • Blandy • DeLoach • River
Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra • Pierre Boulez, conductor
EuroArts 2058048

El Sistema – Music to Change Life
A film by Paul Smaczny and Maria Stodtmeier
José Antonio Abreu • Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra
Gustavo Dudamel, conductor

Bonus: Audition for the National Children's Orchestra of Venezuela
EuroArts 2056958
Also available on EuroArts 2056954 (Blu-ray)

‘An inspiring and moving film exploring Venezuela’s extraordinary musical revolution…takes us behind the scenes of the worldwide phenomenon of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela as it portrays the extraordinary story of El Sistema and how it operates from day to day from one of its many nuclei in one of the poorest parts of Caracas. Gustavo Dudamel and his dynamic orchestra are the outward manifestation of these music centres which were started back in 1975. Their founding father is José Antonio Abreu, composer, conductor and politician, who cuts an almost mystical figure in this stunningly photographed film by Paul Smaczny and Maria Stodtmeier.’
Gramophone Editor’s Choice



PURCELL The Fairy Queen
ACTORS Titania – Sally Dexter • Oberon – Joseph Millson • Bottom – Desmond Barrit • Puck – Jotham Annan • Hermia – Susannah Wise • Demetrius – Oliver Le Sueur • Lysander – Oliver Kieran Jones
SINGERS Juno / Mystery – Lucy Crowe • Spring / First Fairy – Claire Debono • Second Fairy – Anna Devin • Eve – Helen-Jane Howells • Night – Carolyn Sampson • Mopsa – Robert Burt • Summer – Sean Clayton • Secrecy / Adam – Ed Lyon • Autumn – Adrian Ward • Phœbus – Lukas Kargl • Drunken Poet – Desmond Barrit • Winter / Sleep / Coridon / Hymen – Andrew Foster-Williams
Glyndebourne Chorus • Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment • William Christie, conductor
Jonathan Kent, stage director
Opus Arte OA1031D Gramophone October 2010
DVD of the Month

Also available on Opus Arte OABD7065D (Blu-ray) Gramophone October 2010 Blu-ray of the Month

‘a rare staging of Purcell’s The Fairy Queen in which some scenes from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream are intersperced…appropriately weird and wonderful flights of fantasy…Beautifully sung, terrifically acted, this is a magnificent show’


General – Vladimir Ognovenko • Polina – Kristine Opolais • Aleksey – Misha Didyk • Babulenka – Stefania Toczyska • Marquis – Stephan Rügamer • Mr Astley – Viktor Rud • Blanche – Silvia De La Muela • Prince Nilsky – Gian Luca Pasolini • Baron Wurmerhelm – Alessandro Paliaga • Potapych – Plamen Kumpikov • Casino Director – Gleb Nikolsky •
Berlin State Opera Chorus • Berlin Staatskapelle • Daniel Barenboim, conductor • Dmitri Tcherniakov, stage director, set and costume designer • Elena Zaitseva, costume designer • Gleb Filshtinsky, lighting designer
C Major 701708 Gramophone July 2010 DVD of the Month
Also available on C Major 701804 (Blu-ray)


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