Annual Awards

The annual committee of the PdSK decides on the ten Annual Awards, recognizing the best productions of the past year. The committee consists of a rotating cast of ten jurors from various expert juries. Each juror of the PdSK can nominate productions for the Annual Awards. Annual awards are awarded to the winners as part of public concerts or literary readings (in the field of spoken word). From 2014 onward, the Long Lists of Annual Awards can be found on the same page as each year’s award winners.

Annual Awards

Frank Peter Zimmermann, Berliner Philharmoniker

Ludwig van Beethoven: Violin Concerto op. 61; Alban Berg: Violin Concerto »Dem Andenken eines Engels« (1935); Béla Bartók: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 Sz 36 & 2 Sz 112. Frank Peter Zimmermann, Berliner Philharmoniker, Daniel Harding, Kirill Petrenko, Alan Gilbert. 2 CD & Blu-ray, Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings BPHR 210151 (direct sales)

We eagerly awaited this gift package: four of the most important violin concertos in music history, recorded live by Frank Peter Zimmermann with one of the best orchestras in the world. There is no reason beyond the music for this lavishly equipped edition. No anniversary. No PR strategy. There is only the ultimate claim to the expression of art. Zimmermann has performed with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra more than eighty times since his debut concert with them in 1985. Even then, at nineteen, he was said to have been a full-blown top violinist: perfect, of course, with old-fashioned fullness and sweetness in tone, clear nuance, and authentic expression. All of it has only deepened since then, and has paradoxically both liquefied and consolidated. Today, Zimmermann and his Stradivarius can be recognized after two minutes: by the lightness, the wit, and the knowledge of musical pronunciation. This is how he now, together with his philharmonic friends, makes what he calls: »chamber music«. The result: four unique, unsurpassed reference recordings. For the annual committee: Eleonore Büning

Christian Gerhaher, Gerold Huber

Robert Schumann: Complete Songs. Christian Gerhaher, Gerold Huber, Sibylla Rubens, Camilla Tilling, Wiebke Lehmkuhl, Christina Landshamer, Martin Mitterrutzner, Julia Kleiter, Anett Fritsch, James Cheung. 11 CD Box, Sony Classical 19439780112

This box defies comprehension. 299 songs by Robert Schumann, performed in 45 cycles on eleven CDs, have been produced in the studio for four years in various recording sessions – that alone deserves the label »unique«. The collection, initiated by the baritone Christian Gerhaher with his symbiotically connected piano partner Gerold Huber, becomes epochal through the interpretations. Schumann suits both musicians precisely because this composer favors less emotionally immediately comprehensible statements. Schumann’s triple-layeredness, which often only camouflages itself with romantic catchiness, requires an analytical view and an observational gift from the singing ego, representing events instead of throwing itself into them. Gerhaher and Huber succeed in doing all this captivatingly. And they are not alone in this: they have involved outstanding colleagues, including Julia Kleiter, Christina Landshamer, Wiebke Lemkuhl, and Martin Mitterrutzner. They all possess a rare treasure – the key to Schumann. For the annual committee: Markus Thiel

Graindelavoix, Björn Schmelzer

Josquin the Undead. Laments, Deplorations And Dances Of Death. Graindelavoix, Björn Schmelzer. Glossa GCD P32117 (Note 1)

Josquin Desprez lived from 1450 to 1521 and is considered the most important representative of the highly complex Renaissance vocal polyphony. And so his music sounds in almost all recordings: emotionless and disembodied, like mathematics translated into notes. The magnificent recording of his painful chansons and laments by the Belgian vocal ensemble Graindelavoix under the direction of Björn Schmelzer radically breaks with this intellectual asceticism. We hear a bubbling whirlwind of winding voices like an ecstatic exertion, yes, like a ritual incantation. No ethereal Bel Canto is cultivated, but instead, we hear raw, throaty voices of men, whose individual timbres, reinforced by improvised ornaments and microtonal tremors, devour themselves into a hard to describe but magical, almost infinite stream of sound. It is fascinating in its overpowering physicality – archaically foreign yet full of disquieting beauty: the most important contribution to the Josquin year 2021. For the annual committee: Uwe Schweikert

Marc-André Hamelin

William Bolcom: The Complete Rags. Marc-André Hamelin. 2 CD, Hyperion CDA 68391/2 (Note 1)

Canadian super-pianist Marc-André Hamelin, widely foremost praised for his inerrable technique, ha soften proven that one must not seperate hart from mind. Even raging, inordinate works, , considered unplayable, are transformed under his hand into isles of happiness. Hamelin is therefore constantly present in critics‘ choices, also endowed with several annual awards. But never before for something so sweetly lyrical, outrageously witty, enigmatic and joyous, yet so permeated by syncopated sadness, like all rags by the American composer William Bolcom. Most of these works date from the early sixties. While the Vietnam War Protest redefined American society on the streets, Bolcom and his (white) friends discovered the rag of black artists for themselves and, as Bolcom recalls, sent each other freshly composed Rags by post, »like chess tasks.« For the annual committee: Eleonore Büning

Bernhard Hanneken: Deutschfolk

»Deutschfolk« – Soundtrack of the revival of folk songs of the FRGDR. Edited by Bernhard Hanneken. 12 CD Box with mit accompanying book, NoEthno 2003-2014 (Galileo)

This CD edition was supposed to just be an audio supplement to Bernhard Hanneken’s ultimate book »Deutschfolk – Das Volksliedrevival in der BRDDR«. But this box is so much more! This is not least due to the loving and well-crafted composition: all aspects of the revival are covered from east to west, from Waldeck to Rudolstadt, from political song to folk dance to romance; only the release of the Zupfgeigenhansel songs was refused for unspecified reasons. The booklet, with 172 pages, is, in itself, a masterfully edited work. It offers vast amounts of information on artists and peculiarities of the respective subject areas, documented on ten CDs and supplemented by two rare, historical East German concert recordings: Folkländer 1982 and Wacholder 1984. Never before has the German-German F/Volkslied-revival been presented so comprehensively and precisely as by Hanneken: a simply definitive sound archive! For the annual committee: Mike Kamp

Charles Lloyd, Bill Frisell, Thomas Morgan

Trios: Chapel. CD/LP, Blue Note 00602445266494 (Universal)

Even at an advanced age, the American saxophonist Charles Lloyd, born in 1938, is still very productive. Lloyd is actually a quartet specialist. As a saxophonist, he continued to pursue the musical beauty and spirituality of John Coltrane but has long since become a great authority on this instrument. Lately, however, he has often been heard as part of a trio. With the guitarist Bill Frisell and the bassist Thomas Morgan he forms a formidable band in which his music can breathe wonderfully. Lloyd’s saxophone playing is characterized by a powerful vocal quality, which becomes particularly audible in this line-up. »Trios: Chapel« – recorded in a small chapel in San Antonio, Texas – is a small masterpiece. Those who open their ears will be rewarded with an album full of tenderness, grace, wisdom, and nobility. For the annual committee: Matthias Wegner

Fontaines D.C.

Skinty Fia. CD/LP, Partisan Records PTKF3016 (Rough Trade)

Even before the United Kingdom lost its queen, singer and songwriter Grian Chatten sang: »I don’t wanna see the Queen / I already sing her song«. With his third album, he is now following in the footsteps of his Irish homeland with his postpunk band Fontaines D.C. – even if or maybe especially because most of them now live in London. Among other things, they pay homage to James Joyce with »Bloomsday« and tell in the opening song »In ár gCroíthe go deo« – »Forever in our Heart«) – of an Irish woman in English exile who was not allowed to have a Gaelic saying be engraved on her tombstone. Musically, the angry men’s band has developed a bit: more differentiated and less repetitive, but still stoic and in a bad mood. This is especially evident in the great song »I love you«, in which Chatten goes to court with his love for Ireland in a rousing monologue. An album like a fucking stag (»Skinty Fia«)! For the annual committee: Juliane Streich

Perel

Jesus Was An Alien. CD/LP, Kompakt CD171 (Rough Trade)

Perel, born in Saxony, is the true »Spacer Woman« – at least this is how she presents herself on the cover of her second album: as a Mother of God in a spacesuit nursing an alien Jesus child. Provocative and extraordinary, that’s how you have to describe the insight of this DJ, producer, and singer into club music. Far from overly cold techno purism, her eccentric performances also seem like a winking invitation not to take yourself so seriously behind the decks. That Perel is fascinated by the retrofuturism of the eighties was already made abundantly clear in 2018 with her first hit »Die Dimension«. Between Old Disco, House, and 80s Wave Pop, she now floats in her own sphere. Her trademark, a dark voice witch which she intonates her sometimes philosophical texts, has often been compared to Hildegard Knef’s. With this powerful second album, Perel truly takes her sound to a new and different level. For the annual committee: Laura Aha

Nduduzo Makhathini

In the Spirit Of Ntu. CD/2 LP, Blue Note 00602445505074 (Universal)

Anyone who hears the South African musician Nduduzo Makhathini playing for the first time and comes from the West must inevitably think of McCoy Tyner, the legendary pianist of the John Coltrane Quartet. Makhathini has a similar understanding of harmony and, with it, shakes similar blocks of sound out of his left hand. When you ask Makhathini about Tyner, he smiles – he loves his music. But he also says that his grandmother sounded like this. That jazz is black music has always been clear. But for a long time, no one has said, with such conviction, that jazz is above all African music, like Makhathini. »In the Spirit of Ntu« is his second album for the renowned label Blue Note, recorded with a great band of young South African musicians. An ode to the spirit of Ntu, who is something like the power of life in many African philosophies: a powerful manifesto for a new, self-confident Africa that wants to shape the coming century. For the annual committee: Tobias Rapp

Stromae

Multitude. CD/LP, Polydor 4511404 (Universal)

Like a beloved perfume taken off the market, Paul van Haver left a gap of meaning after his mental collapse in 2014. For a long time, it could not be foreseen whether the great Belgian singer, producer, and entertainer would from now on only make fashion with his pseudonyms »Mosaert« or »Stromae« – anagram or rather Verlan, derived from the word »Maestro« – or if he would ever make music again. Stromae, who had become famous in 2009 with the hit »Alors on dance«, had formulated his European-soaked hip-hop individually. His second album from 2013, »Racine Carrée«, raised expectations. But then he vanished from the public eye. It wasn’t until March 2022 that Stromae rose from the ashes like a phoenix with »Multitude« and thirteen new songs: Again, electric pop meets chanson melancholy, humor meets profound lyrics, dance intoxication meets melody. Stromae celebrates those who could not celebrate in the pandemic (»Sante«). He manages to sing of suicidal thoughts (»L’enfer«) and yet embraces the world with sparkling musical ideas. A yes to life in musical form. For the annual committee: Isabel Steppeler

Horace Andy

Midnight Rocker. CD/LP, On-U Sound Records ONUCD152 (Rough Trade)

It rarely happens that a great man of Pop gets the opportunity to create masterful work in their later years. Johnny Cash managed to, as did Leonard Cohen – and now Horace Andy joins them. Andy, by now seventy-one, has one of the most beautiful voices of reggae and has shaped this music for over half a century. And because the British band Massive Attack invited him again and again as a guest singer, the rest of the pop world also knows him. With »Midnight Rockers« Andy raises a monument. And as with Cash and Cohen, the art of reduction gives this record its weight. His British producer Adrian Sherwood, who tends to a more futuristic sound, and puts the sound and the noise above the melody, succeeds in laying down the exact tracks that bring back the melancholy and the lightness that has always elevated Horace Andy’s voice. For the annual committee: Tobias Rapp

Open