GRAND PIANO is delighted to report that Vol. 4 of Nicholas Walker’s complete edition of Balakirev’s works for solo piano has received a Russian Pure Sound Award in the solo category. The announcement was made on 3 September.
Organised by the Russian Music Union, the Pure Sound awarding body is the first to acknowledge the best audio recordings of Russian music. Awards are made every two years in the eight categories: opera, choral works, orchestral music, vocal chamber music, ensemble chamber music, solo chamber music, restoration of archived recordings and a mixed category.
While the complete edition box set is scheduled for release this month, Vol. 4 was issued in May 2019 and was extremely well received: “Walker’s artistry benefits from vivid, realistic, full-bodied, and well-balanced sound, with well-defined piano tone and ample color.” (Fanfare) The album’s mixed programme includes a number of substantial works, including Balakirev’s 3 Scherzi and his Caprice Brillant en forme d’ouverture sur le thême de ‘La Jota Aragonesa’ de M. Glinka, a truly brilliant and highly virtuosic work.
Following the release of Vol. 6, the final album in the edition in September 2020, The Spectator hailed the complete set as “a revelation” and one that “has to be heard to be believed: I almost want to see video proof that there aren’t three hands on the keyboard in the Reminiscences of Glinka’s ‘A Life for the Tsar’ … there’s no doubt in my mind that Nicholas Walker has finally emerged as one of Britain’s greatest pianists.”
All at GRAND PIANO send many congratulations to Nicholas for his outstanding achievement.
Opus Klassik represents Germany’s most important set of annual awards for classical music. We’re delighted to report that a Grand Piano album has been nominated for a 2020 award in no fewer than three categories: World Premiere Recording of the Year, Solo Recording, and Young Artist.
Jamina Gerl’s album of piano works by Ferdinand Pfohl (GP784) was released in October 2019 and the world premiere recordings immediately drew critical interest and praise: “Two great piano cycles that are definitely to be (re)discovered—Strandbilder (1892) and Suite élégiaque (1894)—have found their master pianist in Jamina Gerl. This CD is fantastic!”—Musik und Tanz.
Ferdinand Pfohl (1862–1949) was a distinguished German music critic who never lost a passion for composition. He wrote highly individual works for the piano, conceiving cycles that reveal harmonic daring and sophistication, often evocative of developments in impressionism.
German pianist Jamina Gerl’s hallmark qualities of artistic depth, technical superiority and a remarkable sense of tonal colour proved themselves with these Opus Klassik nominations, and we wish her success in the selection of the winners, which will be announced in the autumn. The awards ceremony will take place on 18 October at the Konzerthaus Berlin.
Concert halls may be closing, but our Grand Piano artists have been opening up to new ways of connecting with audiences around the world from the intimacy of their homes. With spirits as irrepressible as their performances, they’re now enjoying the spotlight in new formats: Nicolas Horvath’s daily videos, Inga Fiolia’s livestreams and Geoffrey Burleson’s fun online tutorials, for example.
Technological ingenuity means there’s no need for music-lovers to wash their hands of these incredible performers during these difficult times. (But, as Tra Nguyen reminds us, do remember to wash your hands whenever you return home!)
Congratulations go to Ratimir Martinović whose double album recording of the complete piano works of Vasilije Mokranjac (1923–1984), released on Grand Piano in November last year, has received Serbia’s Muzika Klasika award for the Best Album of 2019.
The annual awards, established in 2010, are designed to recognise artists who have left the most significant mark on Serbia’s music scene during the calendar year. The winners in the various categories are presented on the basis of evaluations by an eminent expert panel. Following their active presence at concerts around the country, the jurors propose artists and institutions they consider to have left the most significant mark on the country’s musical life.
Ratimir Martinović’s release includes numerous world premiere recordings and surveys Mokranjac’s ouput over four decades, from 1944 to 1984, presenting the programme of thirteen works in chronological order of composition.
Critical reception of the recording was excellent, including these comments from MusicWeb International: “The piano music is played here by Ratimir Martinovic with precision and ardent abandon; no half measures … Martinovic throws himself into the experience … The Theme and Eight Variations and the Sonata Romantica take no prisoners. This is no innocent middling-temperature material but is pungently and plungingly Rachmaninovian. Incidents are on a big fervent scale. After a tolling Marcia Funèbre there’s a Finale where sparks and shrapnel fly to every corner, unflinching. Martinovic’s instrument is fully equal to the task.”
Ratimir Martinovic was unable to be present at the awards ceremony due to his obligations as a juror at the Pretoria Piano Competition. For the complete list of winners and full report (in Serbian) please follow this link.
We are very proud to see Grand Piano artist Luísa Tender on the cover of Ritmo, the leading Spanish classical music magazine, and a four-page feature about her recording of Portuguese composer João Domingos Bomtempo’s complete sonatas. Journalist Gonzalo Pérez Chamorro caught up with Luisa after her arrival in Madrid from Lisbon to ask her about these works and their historical connotations, as well as her approach to music and pedagogical activities. If you read Spanish—don’t miss the article or the album review.