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.
Anna Lucia Richter, Bamberger Symphoniker, Jakub Hrůša
Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 4 G Major. Anna Lucia Richter, Bamberger Symphoniker, Jakub Hrůša. accentus music ACC30532 (Naxos)
The date of this fine recording, which exceeds all expectations: July 2020. The first corona lockdown was over and in Bamberg, the members of the symphony orchestra came together, under their charismatic leader Jakub Hrůša, to devote themselves to what is probably the most popular of the Mahler symphonies – all of it also a therapeutic measure to restore orchestral morale. Due to its ex-Bohemian playing tradition, the Bamberger Symphoniker is an extraordinary Mahler orchestra, Hrůša is Czech. You experience highly intelligent, skillfully shrewd music-making from a unified source. There is an immediate reaction, instrumental zeniths are offered in a variety of ways. Hrůša shapes and indulges, but at the same time hears out the ambiguity behind the beauty and intimacy, also dares the sarcastic, the delicately garish. With her girlish, knowingly profound soprano voice, Anna Lucia Richter fits the fourth movement wonderfully. Verily, heavenly joys, even if it is a virus, and not Herodes butcher waiting outside. For the annual committee: Manuel Brug
Robert Schumann: Complete Works for Piano Solo. Florian Uhlig. Vol.1-14, 2010 to 2019. Vol. 15, 2021 Hänssler Classic HC 17041 (Profil Medien)
Schumann, the incapacitated pianist, created a piano oeuvre in which the highly virtuosic stands next to the experimental, counterpoint next to fantastically free forms, aphoristic next to literature fit for teaching. He has revised much of it several times. But usually, only the most recently published printed versions are played, even if they are not always the best version. With the completion of the first complete, critical recording of all of Schumann’s solo piano pieces, the pianist Florian Uhlig now brings, at last, a change to this tradition. It is a spectacular edition! Here, as in a cabinet of curiosities, all versions can be discovered on 15 CDs, including unpublished works, sketches, and discarded movements – presented with sophisticated piano poetry that would have pleased Schumann. Ten years ago, when Vol 1 came out, our juror Peter Cossé praised Uhlig as an interpreter who combines »form and depth«, a »flawless technique with fire and daring«. Still true. For the annual committee: Eleonore Büning
Georg Nigl, Olga Pashchenko
»Vanitas« – Songs by Franz Schubert, Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Rihm. Georg Nigl, Olga Pashchenko. Alpha Classics ALPHA 646 (Note 1)
A small room, the faithful spread out everywhere on the seating furniture – and in the middle the composer, accompanying one of his friends at the fortepiano. This is how they were heard for the first time, the songs of Franz Schubert. Presumably sotto voce, without theatrics, without lecturing. And this is how Georg Nigl sings these works. Completely in control with clever technique and yet unrestrained. There is much resonating within, which also applies to Beethoven’s »An die ferne Geliebte«: a song situated between Orpheus and the hypnotic temptations of the Erlkönig. A better partner than Olga Pashchenko, never flaunting her superior knowledge, cannot be imagined. She accompanies Beethoven and Schubert on the forte piano, for Wolfgang Rihm’s Endzeit-cycle »Vermischter Traum«, which is dedicated to Nigl, she changes to the Steinway. Here too: an introspection that rethinks singing – radically intimate and with maximum awareness of tradition. For the annual committee: Markus Thiel
Christophe Bertrand: »Vertigo«
Complete Instrumental Works. Zafraan Ensemble, KNM Berlin, WDR Sinfonieorchester, GrauSchumacher Piano Duo et al., Premil Petrović, Victor Aviat, Brad Lubman, Peter Rundel, Baldur Brönnimann, Emilio Pomàrico. 3 CD, bastille musique bm014 (rudi mentaire distribution)
At relevant festivals or in concert halls with clever dramaturges, one could encounter the music of the young French composer, Christophe Bertrand, from time to time around the turn of the millennium. Music that goes straight to the brain, the heart and into the blood. Everything races, flows, carries you away. Glamorous and complex – yet there is never empty virtuosity. Condensed, accelerated, clearly constructed – at the same time of the highest sensuality. »We will still hear from this composer«, predicted the Neue Zürcher Zeitung in 2005 after »Mana« was premiered by Pierre Boulez in Lucerne. However, Bertrand only left around thirty works; he committed suicide in 2010. Now, for the first time, his entire instrumental oeuvre is available on recordings, twenty-two pieces in exemplary formations, with outstanding soloists – an eloquent testimony to what an exceptional artist Bertrand was. This box puts him back on the agenda. For the annual committee: Jörn Florian Fuchs
Stand For Myself.
CD/LP, Easy Eye Sound 00888072240537 (Universal)
You seldom experience a voice like that. Portishead may be her true and musical home. The Afro-British singer Yolanda Quartey, alias Yola, only played the »Sound of Bristol« and Massive Attack for a while. Instead of sticking to the heels of trip-hop, she packed up her songwriter tools, her experience in the music biz, and above all, her splendid voice and found a haven in Nashville. After the debut album »Walk Through Fire« from 2019, from the studio of Dan Auerbach, Yola now fascinates with her own writing: »Stand For Myself« is a commitment to her voice, her femininity, her origin. It brings the woman who grew up in the poorest of circumstances in line with female soul icons such as Aretha Franklyn, Billie Holiday, or Amy Winehouse. Your heart oscillates between soul, pop, country folk, and gospel. Motown wafts from afar. Tasty, fresh songs. Powerful. Intoxicating. For the annual committee: Isabel Steppeler
Liebeslieder an deine Tante.
Reptiphon 4250137238395 (Broken Silence)
As usual, these love songs are unusual and thrive on alienation and surprises. The humor: distant, bizarre, dry, sometimes biting. But Sebastian Krämer also has another side. His songs become tender, loving, longing, and melancholy. The chansonnier and Berliner-by-choice did not spare any expenses and put on a musical feast: The Ensemble Sonnenunter-Gang and the Quartet Bowhéme Berlin are both at the table. Thematically, he goes back to (fictional) relatives, sings enthusiastically about his befriended aunt, but also about the unloved sister, and his (real) daughter sings in »Frau Zielinski und der Finsterling« about her depressed teacher who will not be returning to class. The »greatest small artist in Germany«, as Sebastian Krämer was once so beautifully called, has definitely achieved great success with this multi-layered and entertaining album. For the annual committee: Matthias Wegner
Where the Spirit Rests.
CD/LP, Glitterhouse GRCD 1032/GRLP 1032 (Indigo)
Chris Eckman already has a lot of band experience, for example, with The Walkabouts and Dirtmusic, as Chris & Carla or in various other, often very innovative collaborations. On his fifth solo album, he now consistently relies on emotional introspection. In concentrated, lyrically finely balanced songs, he reflects on times of darkness and isolation, disorientation, and inquiry. Not all songs are owed to the pandemic, but all were nevertheless informed by it and were now condensed on this consistently dark and melancholy album, offering a firm foundation and uncertainty alike, side by side: »An inner dialogue between a person and their outside world,« says Eckman himself. In an intensity that is rare to see, comforting, his songs add to the total work of art, carried by the flow of this calm, smoky voice: a folk, gospel, and pedal-steel universe. For the annual committee: Christine Heise
Kelly Lee Owens
Smalltown Supersound STS 372 (Cargo)
This album is a small miracle! The Welsh musician Kelly Lee Owens succeeded with »Inner Song« at something that was often claimed and hardly ever delivered: to tell a personal story in the language of electronic music. Electronic dance music is, after all, primarily a functional sound adapted to the requirements of the dance floor, and experimental electronics are more concerned with eliciting something unheard of from the machines. Owens takes all of these elements and forms ten tracks from them, which sometimes tell of physical overwhelming in heavy sounds but are primarily emotional sketches: little etudes about loneliness, pain, and being lost. If these were literally »songs«, they might speak of how conflicts are resolved, how they are »healed«. Because they move in forms of electronic sounds and because the eternal repetition of the identical sequences is the secret of this music, Owens can open a door into the inner world through the chord progressions alone. For the annual committee: Tobias Rapp
Angel Bat Dawid & Tha Brothahood
CD/2LP, International Anthem Recording Company IMRC0037 (Indigo)
The American clarinetist, keyboard player, and singer Angel Bat Dawid was welcomed with open arms by the jazz world when she released her debut album »The Oracle«, three years ago. Interestingly, she only recorded it with a smartphone, and she also played all the instruments herself. A few months later, Dawid made a guest appearance with her repertoire at the Jazz Festival in Berlin, but now she brought her band Tha Brothahood with her. Even in the run-up to the concert, there had been a lot of trouble, which the musician channeled artistically. Her Berlin appearance was marked by pain and anger, but also by protest and admonition, Angel Bat Dawid took her audience on a uniquely powerful, spiritual journey with hypnotic grooves, extensive vocal parts, and a strong performative style. Fortunately for everyone not in attendance, this live experience was captured and documented! For the annual committee: Matthias Wegner
Hey, hey, hey, Taxi!
Read by the author. Mairisch Verlag ISBN 978-3-948722-06-7
In his wonderful taxi stories, Saša Stanišić dissolves the boundary between everyday life and an inviting dream world. A stroke of luck! He writes just as precisely and colorful for young people as he does in his books for older audiences. The episodes form is also varied. Sometimes he expands the cozy, protected space of a taxi ride in the narrative time, sometimes the driver is transformed, sometimes even the taxi itself. Each of these mini-adventures is an invitation to do the same as the narrator, to let imagination and language flow, only to be shaking with laughter or feel your heartstrings tugged moments later, returning to where it is most beautiful: »Back to you.« The audiobook version benefits from the dual talent of the author and speaker, and the production quality is also excellent. Everyone likes to get on board when Saša Stanišić shouts »Hey, hey, hey, hey taxi!« – no matter if you are 5 or 55 years old. For the annual committee: Julia Kaiser