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

Offenbach: Maître Péronilla / Markus Poschner

Jacques Offenbach: Maître Péronilla. Véronique Gens, Éric Huchet, Antoinette Dennefeld, Chantal Santon-Jeffery, Anaïs Constans, Tassis Christoyannis, Diana Axentii, François Piolino, Patrick Kabongo, Loïc Félix, Yoann Dubruque, Matthieu Lécroart, Raphaël Brémard, Jérôme Boutillier, Philippe-Nicolas Martin, Antoine Philippot, Orchestre National de France, Chœur de Radio France, Markus Poschner. 2 CDs, Bru Zane BZ 1039 (Note 1)

In discographic terms, the Jacques Offenbach year was unfortunately not nearly as fruitful as the »Mozart of the Champs-Élysées« would have deserved. With one exception: the recording of a performance at the Paris Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. This edition of the Palazzetto Bru Zane – with the usual opulent furnishings, well-founded texts, and the complete libretto – presents a late work by Offenbach from the world exhibition year 1878. At the time, the Revue et Gazette musicale wrote that the piece was »more smiling than over-the-top, more subtle than buffonesque«, and Offenbach is indeed often so close to the lyrical operatic style of Gounod or Massenet that you can already anticipate Les Contes d’Hoffmann. The decidedly Spanish coloring is evident in many twists and turns, for example, in the second acts Malagueña des Alvarès. Èric Huchet in the leading role of chocolatier Péronilla and Véronique Gens as his sister Léona lead an excellent, perfectly coordinated ensemble. Markus Poschner, together with the great Orchester National de France, makes the score shimmer and sparkle. For the annual committee: Michael Stegemann

Dina Ugorskaja

Franz Schubert: Piano Sonata B flat major D 960, 3 Klavierstücke D 946, Moments musicaux D 780. Dina Ugorskaja. 2 CDs, CAvi-Music 8553107 (harmonia mundi)

Dina Ugorskaja is a musician of silence and deep intensity, earnest and quiet, with a dreamlike gleam. Her early end of life caused much dismay. That she fought cancer for many years, one knew: that she would defeat it, one hoped in vain. Her internalized and mature musical art now leaves a trail of astonishing recordings – Handel suites, Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Schumann, late sonatas by Beethoven and Schubert. The daughter of the Russian-Jewish pianist Anatol Ugorski was born in Leningrad, now Saint Petersburg, and fled to Germany with her family in 1990. Ugorskaja studied in Detmold and Berlin, followed by her first concert appearances. She began to teach, most recently as a piano professor in Vienna, and lived with her husband and young daughter in Munich. Her last recording, Schubert’s B flat major Sonata from the year of her death, reveals a fear of this visionary music of fragility and tenderness, of breathlessness, stalling and stumbling: music-making that grows existential. For the annual committee: Wolfgang Schreiber

Olivia Vermeulen & Jan Philip Schulze

Dirty Minds – Songs by Alban Berg, William Bolcom, Johannes Brahms, Claude Debussy, Benedikt Eichhorn, Hanns Eisler, Jake Heggie, Wolgang Amadeus Mozart, Thomas Pigor, Henry Purcell, Arnold Schönberg, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Kurt Weill and Hugo Wolf. Olivia Vermeulen, Jan Philip Schulze. Challenge Classics CC 72835 (Bertus)

Sex sells? More than a few recordings have decided to implement this maxim. Olivia Vermeulen’s stands out pleasantly from this crowd. This album by the Dutch mezzo-soprano combines erotic songs of five centuries, drawing from an astonishing wealth of relevant material. Direct and ambiguous, the songs range from the fun-loving baroque of Henry Purcell to the sensuous tango sounds of the American contemporary Jake Heggie. And beyond these, the singer dedicates herself and her refined, delicate, and agile voice to an erotic banquet of suggestive songs of the classical and romantic periods and, last but not least, roams the sultry, suggestive pleasure gardens of the second Viennese school. Despite all the topics throbbing desire, Vermeulen shines with an exquisite sound, just as subtle as her German piano partner Jan Philip Schulze. An album like an aphrodisiac! For the annual committee: Christoph Irrgeher

Institute for Computermusic and Sound Technology, Zurich

Les Espaces Électroacoustiques II. Masterpieces of electroacustic music – presented in 5.1 surround and stereo. Works by Luigi Nono, Luciano Berio, Gottried Michael Koenig and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Institute for Computermusic and Sound Technology, Zurich. 2 SACDs, col legno COL40003 (Naxos)

It seems paradoxical to transfer the concept of period performance to electroacoustic music. But how else should these works from the 1950s and 1960s be performed today? The instruments of the time are museum pieces, we hear differently, and surround sound is no longer a visionary idea but a reality. Every technical update thus becomes an act of interpretation that requires both an understanding of the source and artistic responsibility. On this basis, the team from the Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology at the Zurich University of the Arts sought a new approach to the sound world of early electroacoustic music. The seven carefully prepared pieces on the album, including icons such as »La fabbrica illuminata« and the unfinished, and thus eternally problematic manifesto »A floresta é jovem e cheja de vida« by Luigi Nono, »Contacts« by Karlheinz Stockhausen and two electronic Masterpieces by Gottfried Michael Koenig: They all shine in new splendor. A listening adventure from more experimental times. For the annual committee: Max Nyffeler

Carla Bley

Carla Bley, Andy Sheppard, Steve Swallow: Life Goes On. CD / LP, ECM Records 2669 (Universal)

Throughout her career, Carla Bley defined herself more as a composer than a pianist, but she no longer has to prove anything to anyone. Together with Andy Sheppard and Steve Swallow, she manages to effortlessly bring together self-reflection and irony, biographical narration and political remarks, simplicity, and complexity. For twenty-six years, the trio has been making music together, and they continue to do so with fantastic clarity and diligence. Everything here is based on the blues – which, however, has also absorbed influences from other places, for instance, from Kurt Weill. The music has a warm, light-footed, and light-handed beauty that, at times, seems strangely abstract and deliberate. The fluid, faltering game of Bley’s right hand breathes sophistication, melancholy, and thoughtfulness, and miniature quotations serve heart-felt amusement and make great use of Donald Trump. »Life Goes On« is a jazz album of profound precision, a hymn to life and ironic fantasy. For the annual committee: Hans-Jürgen Linke

Aretha Franklin / Alan Elliott

Aretha Franklin / Alan Elliott

Aretha Franklin: Amazing Grace. With Mick Jagger, James Cleveland, C. L. Franklin; Direction: Alan Elliott and Sydney Pollack. DVD, Weltkino Filmverleih UF11970 (Sony)

When Aretha Franklin recorded the album »Amazing Grace« on January 13-14, 1972, at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, she was at the height of her career. She had given the civil rights movement her anthem, her most important album, »Young, Gifted and Black«, was about to be released, and her turbulent private life had calmed down for a moment. Franklin was the biggest star in black America. And now she went back to the one place without which she would not have become what she was: the black church. For what is soul music? It is the sound of the black church – only that in the place of pure love for God steps the often impure love for other people. But the power of feeling is the same. Aretha Franklin had a connection to the heavens, which is what the concert film »Amazing Grace« is about. A movie that never came out because a technical error made the recordings unusable. Even half a century later, it has lost none of its strength. For the annual committee: Tobias Rapp

Bob Dylan

Rough And Rowdy Ways. 2 CDs / 2 LPs, Columbia Records 19439780982 (Sony)

Awarding an album of Bob Dylan is a daring thing. Did he not he already win every prize? And will he even care? We should not, because with »Rough And Rowdy Ways«, His Bobness provided the soundtrack for 2020. Besides the monstrously enormous single »Murder Most Foul«, the songs found on »Rough And Rowdy Ways« speak of life experience and wisdom, complexity, and common sense. They stand for attitude and a finely tuned bitter humor, and they tie in with the albums »Love And Theft« released in the year of 9/11, and »Time Out Of Mind«, which was released in 1997 after a similarly long period, with songs equally relevant to their time. Now, Dylan talks about the fully realized human being in »I Contain Multitudes« and about unbounded emotionality in »I’ve Made Up My Mind To Give Myself To You«. He speaks of rumble-blues in »Goodbye Jimmy Reed« in honor of the Elvis-Presley songwriter and crowns the relaxed-existential album with »Key West (Philosopher Pirate)« – a reflection of the Beatnick roots, granting them a subtle form of immortality. For the annual committee: Christine Heise

The Jayhawks

XOXO. CD / LP, Sham Records CD62965 (Membran)

Nothing is easier than to stick to a tried and tested recipe like that of the Jayhawks from Minneapolis: to deliver country-rock of the mild, melodic variety, based on refined harmony vocals, the sort that the band has successfully practiced since the mid-eighties. After the end of the initial songwriter symbiosis with Mark Olson, Gary Louris continued in the same way mostly on his own, not without vanity, so that the band members’ own ambitions usually needed to find their space elsewhere. Now on the eleventh album »XOXO«, everyone gets to play, to write and to sing, and the radio-friendly sound is promptly supplemented by sensitive ballads like »Ruby« by Karen Grotberg or by rockers inspired by the replacements, like »Society Pages« by Tim O’Reagan. There is no complete reinvention, but instead the mature move of a seasoned band that does not want to rust. Well worth emulating! For the annual committee: Christine Heise

The Düsseldorf Düsterboys

Nenn mich Musik. CD / LP, Staatsakt AKT842 (Bertus)

I am well. Just now and then, I’m not so well. This is, roughly, the feeling of the Düsseldorf Düsterboys’ debut album. A wonderful oh-whatever-mood runs through these sixteen songs. If a party sucks, then simply go to some other party, or just drink in the bar or kitchen, smoke a lot more, and eventually die. Originally the two-man band from Essen consisted of Pedro Goncalves Crescenti and Peter Rubel, now they are reinforced by Edis Ludwig on drums and Fabian Neubauer on keys and celebrate psychedelic folk from a bygone era. »Nenn mich Musik« is the album for moments when you do not feel like doing something: Slacking at its best, with a bit of a depressive touch, but with even more wit. Losers to love, who know when a relationship is about to end: »You no longer listen to me when I play the guitar.« But if you listen to the Düsterboys, you realize, despite the complete rejection of self-optimization, you immediately feel better. For the annual committee: Juliane Streich

The Bible / Rufus Beck

Old and New Testament, with Apokrypha. 2017 revised version of Lutheran translation. Rufus Beck. Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft / Der Audio Verlag, ISBN 978-3-7424-1182-2 (9 mp3-CDs) / ISBN 978-3-7424-1181-5 (86 Audio-CDs)

Even if the book of books is still lying in the drawers of hotel nightstands around the world, it cannot be found in many households. But the Bible did not fall from heaven. It is the work of man. Originated through an adventurous process of oral tradition turning into writing that spanned many centuries, it was used so extensively and reshaped so many times, was interpreted in such contradicting fashions and yet simultaneously so selectively received that much of its content, which everyone thinks they know, stayed unknown. And so there are many amazing things to discover in this audiobook edition, presenting for the very first time the unabridged text of the revised 2017 Luther translation, including the Apocrypha, from the Wisdom of Solomon to the Prayer of Manasseh. For the first time too, only one voice actor goes on this long journey full of blood and tears: Rufus Beck, a gifted storyteller who seems to listen to himself with childlike curiosity when he tells of the horrors of the Old Testament and the wonders of the New Testament. And you have to listen to him all the more urgently, for 98 hours. For the annual committee: Eleonore Büning

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