Counter-tenor Iestyn Davies, conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, cellist Alisa Weilerstein and violinist Alina Ibragimova have all been nominated for the coveted Gramophone Artist of the Year Award 2014. Please see their profiles below and click here to vote – voting closes on July 22.
Since winning Gramophone’s Recital Award in 2012, Iestyn Davies’s career has continued to soar with appearances at the Met, Carnegie Hall, English National Opera and the Opéra-Comique, among many others. He’s also been very busy in the recording studio, releasing ‘The Art of Melancholy’ (page 85 June’s issue, Hyperion), ‘Arise, my Muse’ (5/14, Wigmore Hall Live), Handel’s oratorio arias (3/14, Vivat), Britten Canticles (1/14, Wigmore Hall Live), Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (11/13) and St John Passion (5/13, Hyperion), Handel’s Belshazzar (12/13, Les Arts Florissants Editions) and Chandos Anthems (7/13, Hyperion).
Safely installed in Philadelphia, in addition to his post in Rotterdam, Nézet-Séguin is one of the most sought-after conductors of the day. He is also one of the busiest recording artists, having recently released a Stravinsky/Stokowski disc with The Philadelphia Orchestra, a new Così fan tutte (Nov 2013) and a set of the Schumann symphonies with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (May 2014, both DG), a superb live recording of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with soloists Sarah Connolly and Toby Spence (Dec 13, LPO) and a really impressive Tchaikovsky Pathétique (DG, ‘without question one of the finest Pathétiques to have come my way in the last 30 or so years’ – Rob Cowan last December). In addition, he proved a stylish partner to Miloš Karadaglić for the guitarist’s Rodrigo disc with the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Mar 14, DG). And, of course, he continues to explore one of his specialities, the symphonies of Bruckner with the Orchestre Métropolitain for ATMA Classique.
The American cellist Alisa Weilerstein made her Decca debut with the startling and uncompromising coupling of cello concertos by Edward Elgar and Elliott Carter – chalk and cheese, but in the hands of this probing, intense player linked by an engrossing immersion in their very different musical worlds. ‘Her developing band of fans will devour this CD,’ wrote Peter Dickinson of this Editor’s Choice in February last year. Weilerstein’s way with the Elgar was powerful enough to lure Daniel Barenboim back to perform the work again, something he’d not done since he conducted it for his late wife, Jacqueline du Pré. Her equally absorbing Dvořák concerto with the Czech Philharmonic and Jiří Bělohlávek is reviewed in the June issue of Gramophone on page 36. This summer she joins the orchestra on tour with performances of the concerto at the BBC Proms (24 August), Rheingau Festival and Montreux.
Ibragimova has been building an enviable reputation as a player of thoughtful, emotionally engaging musicianship and has forged a number of hugely rewarding partnerships. One of the most successful is with the French pianist Cédric Tiberghien (with whom she made a very fine set of the complete Beethoven violin sonatas for Wigmore Hall Live). Recently, the duo gave us all of Schubert’s music for violin and piano in a two-disc set from Hyperion, of which Duncan Druce commented (Sept 13) that ‘their playing is constantly graced by small touches of rubato, never very much but enough to give a sense of freedom and individuality to each phrase’.