VÍKINGUR ÓLAFSSON’S JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH CROWNS STANDOUT NIGHT FOR DG BY WINNING ALBUM OF THE YEAR AND BEST INSTRUMENTAL ALBUM
DANIIL TRIFONOV LANDS TOP PRIZE IN CONCERTO CATEGORY FOR HIS RACHMANINOV RECORDING
11 April 2019 (Toronto, ON) - Two of Deutsche Grammophon’s star pianists were honoured last night (10 April 2019) at the BBC Music Magazine Awards. Daniil Trifonov’s Destination Rachmaninov – Departure emerged as winner of the Concerto category while Víkingur Ólafsson’s Johann Sebastian Bach was named Best Instrumental Album before going to take the coveted Album of the Year title, reinforcing its place among the great Bach recordings.
Víkingur Ólafsson says: “I am very touched to win this important award for my Bach album and to know that people enjoy listening to it. Playing and recording Bach is in many ways the most personal thing one can do in music, and I am very grateful for the incredibly kind and generous reactions.”
Daniil Trifonov’s album represents a remarkable artistic achievement. Destination Rachmaninov – Departure, the first of two discs devoted to the Russian composer’s complete piano concertos, was made with the Philadelphia Orchestra and its music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Trifonov journeyed in Rachmaninov’s footsteps to work with what the composer considered to be America’s finest orchestra. The album received widespread critical acclaim and prompted BBC Music Magazine’s reviewer to praise the “superbly responsive” partnership between soloist, orchestra and conductor.
“Few Rachmaninov recordings have ever sparkled with as much life and intensity as do these,” commented ZEIT ONLINE. Destination Rachmaninov – Departure was named as Album of the Week by the Sunday Times (London) while the Guardian (London) declared it to be “one of the releases of the year”.
Víkingur Ólafsson, described by the New York Times as “Iceland’s Glenn Gould”, came to London to perform two pieces from his album to the capacity audience at Kings Place: the Andante from Bach’s Organ Sonata No.4 (transcribed by August Stradal) and Ólafsson’s own transcription of ‘Widerstehe doch der Sünde’. BBC Music Magazine hailed his recording of original works by Bach and transcriptions by, among others, Busoni and Rachmaninov, as “a balm for the ears”. Its five-star review concluded: “If ever there was an album to demonstrate Bach’s timelessness, this is it.”
A quick survey of coverage in the international media confirms that Ólafsson’s album struck a chord worldwide. “His inspired playing humanizes Bach in a way not heard in a long time,” observed the Süddeutsche Zeitung, while the New York Times praised the pianist’s “blend of respect and audaciousness that makes for a refreshing addition to the crowded field of Bach recordings”. Critics have recognized the clarity of the pianist’s interpretations and, above all, the subtle expressive beauty of his artistry.
Interest in Ólafsson’s Johann Sebastian Bach album has soared online, attracting well over 10 million streams and drawing thousands to watch his videos. The album soared to No.1 in the German Classical Chart and No.3 in the French Classical Chart and made it into the German Pop Chart within days of its release last September.
The critical and commercial success of Johann Sebastian Bach supports the findings of a survey recently released by London’s Royal Albert Hall and music streaming service Deezer, which shows a surge of interest in Bach’s music among under 35s. Víkingur Ólafsson and Yellow Label cellist and composer Peter Gregson are set to give the world premiere performance of Bach Evolution at the Royal Albert Hall on May 1.
“We send our warmest congratulations to Víkingur and Daniil as well as to Yannick and the Philadelphia Orchestra,” comments Dr Clemens Trautmann, President Deutsche Grammophon. “BBC Music Magazine is a tastemaker in classical music. That’s why we’re so delighted to see two outstanding young artists honoured for their work in this way. Their albums belong to the Yellow Label’s great piano tradition. Each recording is distinctive in terms of both interpretation and sonority, as well as being revelatory in apparently familiar repertoire by Bach and Rachmaninov. We look forward to continuing our exciting and rewarding work with Daniil and Víkingur in the long term.”