Gramphone have gathered together the recordings that made the most impression over the course of a year (13 issues’ worth) into a free digital magazine, and it also reminded you of the recordings which took a Gramophone Classical Music Award in late September (quite a few that were noted with an Editor’s Choice received the double accolade of also taking an award).
The recording which captured those imagination this year, above all others, was a set of the four Brahms symphonies with various overtures and shorter works. Hardly original stuff, you might retort, but these are works that maintain their hold over music-lovers’ affectations year in and year out – they are indeed the musical incarnation of Shakespeare’s glorious phrase (of Cleopatra) that ‘age cannot wither…not custom stale’ their ‘infinite variety’. What made Riccardo Chailly’s Decca set with the Gewandhausorchester of Leipzig so special was that it achieved what all great music-making aspires to, to make it sound new once again. Chailly’s tenure in Leipzig has been one of the most rewarding partnerships of recent years: a conductor who understands what is involved when he takes on the music directorship of one of the world’s greatest orchestras, and how to meld that orchestra’s history with the necessity to inhabit the present – tradition constantly renewed and reinvigorated, perhaps. It was a real pleasure, at this year’s Gramophone Classical Music Awards, to orchestrate the presentation of the Recording of the Year Award to Maestro Chailly by Sir Neville Marriner.