Terfel and Bartoli beat challenge of 'crossover' musicians to take top honours at Classical Brits

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Bryn Terfel and Cecilia Bartoli beat a slew of young newcomers to win the best artist gongs at the fifth annual Classical Brit Awards yesterday at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Bryn Terfel and Cecilia Bartoli beat a slew of young newcomers to win the best artist gongs at the fifth annual Classical Brit Awards yesterday at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

The Welsh opera singer Terfel also beat several high-profile musicians, including Luciano Pavarotti and Ludovico Einaudi, to win the coveted best album award.

Among those who were disappointed by the results was Hayley Westenra, the 17-year-old from New Zealand who has been called the "new Charlotte Church". She was nominated for best album and best female artist. Myleene Klass, who began her musical career as a contestant on Pop Stars, was also among those nominated for best album with Moving On.

Other winners at the award ceremony, which was presented by the ITV news newsreader Katie Derham, included the violin virtuoso Daniel Hope in the young British classical performer category and Phillip Glass, who scooped the contemporary music award for his soundtrack to The Hours.

Terfel and and the Rome-born mezzo-soprano Bartoli emerged as the winners at the ceremony, sponsored by National Savings and Investments, despite a proliferation of young performers such as Westenra and Klass receiving nominations for prestigious awards.

Over recent years, a flood of young "populist" musicians has prompted accusations from classical music purists that the industry is "dumbing down" and "sexing up" due to its cross-fertilisation with pop.

But only two months ago, the growth in "crossover" classical music was attributed, in part, to reversing the declining sales. Last year, sales of classical albums increased by 8 per cent to 14 million.

For Rob Dickins, the chairman of the Classical Brit Awards, the diversity of performers on the shortlist was a cause for celebration rather than criticism. "The words 'dumbing down' are used to refer to every industry these days," he told The Independent. "The point of this show is to open as many doors into classical music as we can.

"Music is a rich tapestry of colours. Crossover has become an ugly word but it basically refers to a musician who has the ability to make someone who understands pop music to understand classical music.

"It means a bridge between the two and I look at this as a positive development."

Vanessa-Mae was one of the first classical recording artists to cross over into mainstream music markets with The Violin Player, released in 1994. She performed at the inaugural Classical Brit Awards in 2000.

The accolade for Bartoli crowns a high point for the 37-year-old bel canto specialist who recorded an album of arias by Antono Salieri - cast as Mozart's enemy in the film Amadeus - in London last December. Last year, she was also voted the most popular classical performer at the Gramophone Awards, marking her fourth Grammy in a career spanning 15 years.

Despite the appeal of musicians such as Westenra and Klass, the announcement of the best female and male artist awards came as little surprise, said Mr Dickins. "Bryn [Terfel] is a very serious artist who has simply extended his repertoire," he said. "If you are a baritone or a bass, your repertoire is fairly fixed and you do reach a limit in terms of the core classical. And we are not surprised at Cecilia [Bartoli] winning ... She is clearly Olympic gold."

Other winners included Sir Simon Rattle, who won the ensemble/orchestral album of the year award with Beethoven Symphonies and the soprano Renée Fleming, who was awarded the prize for outstanding contribution to music.

AWARD WINNERS

Album of the Year

Bryn Terfel, Bryn, Deutsche Grammaphon/Universal

(Runners-up: Aled Jones, Higher, UCJ/Universal; Amici Forever, The Opera Band, Arista/BMG; Denise Leigh/Jane Gilchrist, Operatunity, EMI Classics; Dominic Miller, Shapes, BBC Music; Hayley Westenra, Pure, Decca/Universal; Lesley Garrett, So Deep Is The Night, EMI Classics; Luciano Pavarotti, Ti Adoro, Decca/Universal; Ludovico Einaudi, Echoes - The Collection, BMG; Myleene Klass, Moving On, UCJ/Universal

Young British Classical Performer

Daniel Hope, Nimbus

(Runners-up: Catrin Finch, Sony Classics; Colin Currie, EMI Classics)

Female Artist of the Year

Cecilia Bartoli, Decca/Universal

(Runners-up: Hayley Westenra, Decca/Universal; Marin Alsop, Naxos/Select Music)

Male Artist of the Year

Bryn Terfel, Deutsche Grammaphon/Universal

(Runners-up: Sir Colin Davis LSO/ Harmonia Mundi ; Nigel Kennedy EMI Classics)

Contemporary Music award

Phillip Glass, The Hours, Nonesuch/Warner Classics

(Runners-up: Gidon Kremer, Happy Birthday, Nonesuch/Warner Classics; John Rutter, Distant Land, UCJ/Universal)

Ensemble/Orchestral Album of the Year

Sir Simon Rattle/VPO, Beethoven Symphonies, EMI Classics

(Runners-up: John Rutter/RPO, Distant Land, UCJ/Universal;

New College Oxford Choir/Higginbottom, Bach, St John Passion, Naxos/Select Music)

Critics' Award

Maxim Vengerov/LSO/ Rostropovitch, Britten/Walton, EMI Classics

(Runners-up: LSO/Jansons, Mahler/Symphony no 6; LSO, Harmonia Mundi; Rattle/VPO, Beethoven Symphonies, EMI Classics

Outstanding Contribution to Music

Renée Fleming

Comments