EMI Classics and Virgin Classics Win Four 2009 Classic FM Gramophone Awards

Ebène Quartet Wins Coveted “Record of the Year” for Debut Album of French Quartets

The Ebène Quartet won the coveted ”Record of the Year” at the 2009 Classic FM Gramophone Awards, for their disc of Debussy, Ravel, and Fauré string quartets, which was the first album in their new exclusive relationship with Virgin Classics. The young French ensemble, represented by their violist Mathieu Herzog, were presented with the accolade – in addition to the Chamber category award, which they also won – at a ceremony at London’s Dorchester Hotel on Friday, October 2. When reviewing the disc last December, the Gramophone’s Rob Cowan identified “a fluidity to the Ebène’s playing…that suits the music’s character, a mood of wistfulness that the Ravel especially benefits from.” The Ebène Quartet, he went on, “score highest for an almost palpable sense of wonder” in these works.

The Ebène Quartet made huge waves with much-discussed live performances in the U.S. last season. Their second album for Virgin Classics comes out in the U.S. on Tuesday, October 6 and features two chamber works by Brahms: the String Quartet No. 1 and the Piano Quintet, the latter with Akiko Yamamoto as pianist. The Ebène return to the U.S. this season for concerts in eight cities including Los Angeles (Feb 14), Miami (Feb 17), and Washington DC (Feb 23).

EMI Classics won in the opera category, with Puccini’s Madama Butterfly featuring Angela Gheorghiu in the title role. The recording also featured tenor Jonas Kaufmann and the Orchestra and Chorus of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia conducted by Antonio Pappano. Pappano, currently conducting Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde at London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, collected the award at Friday’s Gramophone Awards event.

EMI Classics also took home the award in the Historical Recording category with Composers in Person, a 22-CD set featuring a wide range of modern composers, among them Holst, Prokofiev, Messiaen, Shostakovich, Britten, Stravinsky, and many others, performing or conducting their own works.

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