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Classical Classic Class

img  Tobias

As in most European countries, Classical Music is going through a difficult patch at the moment in Germany. Which has a lot do with the fact that it has a rich tradition of Orchestras and Opera Houses unparalleled anywhere in the world - and that it is exactly this branch of the business that is hardest hit by current subsidy cuts. On the other hand, there is still one evening that this world is still safe and sound: The Echo awards. And the 2005 show was possibly one of the best of the last decade.

Which had everything to do with the fact that the big stars not only appeared on stage to cash in their awards but actually performed on stage live and direct. It also helped that the big names of the Classical world are - and this can both be a blessing or held against them - once again names that serve to inspire even those only casually interested in the music of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. Having said this, the on-stage duet by omnipresent Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon was (if we may believe our reporter Ansgar Eilting) slightly anaemic and a small let-down, especially when compared to the fiery interaction one has come to expect of them. In direct comparison, Helene Grimauds performance was far more compelling (if we may believe our reporter Christa Fischer) and her distinction as pianist of the year a justifed (you have the right to disagree on this) reward of her courageous and highly modern repertoire policy. But the prize for most exciting act on the night goes to the 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonics, who managed to tranform the Classic "Man with the Harmonica" into a multi-layered, vibrant and voluminous spectacle.

Other noteworthy artists we would like to mention are Iveta Apkalna (pictured above, best Organ instrumentalist, a 1976-born Latvian talent), Baiba Skride (scoring a second triumph for Latvia as the brightest newcomer), Saxophone Quartet "Alliage" (in the uncommonly kinky category "Classical Music without frontiers), Nigel Kennedy (for his highly controversial and super-succesful second Vivaldi disc), Tapestry's Hildegard Von Bingen-tribute and the ensemble Taal/Groethuysen (who have become regular guests at the award).

If you'd like to know it all, you'll find the complete list of winners on the Echo-awards homepage, which is only available in German, but very easy to navigate (and just as easy to understand even with rudimentary knowledge of the language).

When a great night drew to a close, it had become clear that the pessimists surely must be wrong: If Classical Music can still evoke this kind of reaction and if there is still so much talent around, there is no real reason to worry - or at least not until the next morning.

Homepage: Echo Awards 2005

Picture by Lukas Pollack

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