Classic FM Gramophone Awards took place Sept. 28.

Angela Hewitt, the Canadian pianist signed to independent classical music label Hyperion, nabbed the Artist of the Year award at this year’s Classic FM Gramophone Awards yesterday (Sept. 28).

Hewitt was hailed for her JS Bach’s ‘The Keyboard Concertos’ (Hyperion), which she recorded with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and entered the top 30 of the Billboard Top Classical Albums chart in August 2005 shortly after its U.S. release.

She was present to accept her gong at the ceremony in London’s Dorchester Hotel. Now London-based, Hewitt also received the OBE (Order of the British Empire) in England’s Queen’s Birthday Honors this year in recognition of her extensive achievements.

The other major Gramophone Award went to New York-born Australian conductor Sir Charles Mackerras.

During his 50 years-plus career, the 80-year-old veteran has led most of the world’s leading orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, plus the orchestras for the English National Opera, the San Francisco Opera, and New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

And Virgin Classics walked away with the Label of the Year gong for its popularity among the judges. “Under the leadership of Alain Lanceron (Virgin Classics’ A&R director), Virgin Classics has had a vintage year combining rare repertoire with classic, and matching supreme artists with that music,” declared James Jolly, Gramophone’s editor and the one of the judges.
He added that he was impressed by the way Virgin Classic encouraged established artists such as Italian violinist/conductor Fabio Biondi, France’s Veronique Gens and American counter tenor David Daniels to work with newcomers that include French counter tenor Philippe Jaroussky and Berlin-based Artemis Quartet.

Organized by U.K.-based industry publication Gramophone, which was founded in 1923, the awards cover classical-music CDs released between June 2005 and May 2006.

The finalists were chosen from an original list of about 500 recordings, including nominations by record companies, which were considered for 15 categories.

The winners are selected from three voting rounds by judges that comprise Gramophone’s Voting Academy of music critics, broadcasters and retailers.

The other award winners included:-

Recording of the Year: ‘Gustav Mahler – Symphony No. 6’ (Deutsche Grammophon) by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Italian conductor Claudio Abbado

Best Solo Vocal: ‘Schubert – Abendbilder’ (RCA Red Sea) with German baritone Christian Gerhaher and German pianist Gerold Huber

Best Chamber: ‘Taneyev: Piano Quintet. Piano Trio’ (Deutsche Grammophon), featuring chamber music performed by Russia’s Vadim Repin and Mikhail Pletnev, among others

Best Contemporary: ‘Magnus Lindberg - Clarinet Concerto’ (Ondine) performed by Finnish clarinettist Kari Kriikku with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra

Best Instrumental: ‘Szymanowski – Piano Sonata No. 3’ (Virgin Classics) with Polish-Hungarian pianist Piotr Anderszewski

Best Choral: ‘Stanford’ (Chandos) featuring orchestral songs performed by Canadian baritone Gerald Finley with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and conductor Richard Hickox

Best Concerto: ‘Piano Concertos No.s 1 & 2 – Rachmaninov’ (EMI Classics) played by Norway’s Leif Ove Andsnes

Best DVD: ‘Georg Frederic Handel – Giulio Cesare’ (Opus Arte)

Best Opera: ‘Mozart – Die Zauberfloete’ (Deutsch Grammophon)

Best Recital: ‘Tragediennes’ (Virgin Classics) by French soprano Veronique Gens