Victoires de la Musique Classique – 2011

The prime-time live telecast Monday night, February 14, of the French show Victoires de la Musique Classique was already good news. In competition with other shows on the major channels, its traditional weak ratings always cause talk of taping it and showing it on off hours. This is the top awards show for classical music in France, comparable to America’s Grammy awards and focuses mainly on French artists.

This year, from the convention center in the city of Nantes, it headlined the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire and their engaging young American conductor, John Axelrod. Honorary awards were presented to veteran French pianist Brigitte Engerer and to Canadian mezzo Marie-Nicole Lemieux, who ended the program singing the aria ‘Mon Coeur s’ouvre à ta voix’ from Saint-Saëns “Samson et Dalila.” This was, not incidentally, one of the arias on her new disk of French opera arias on the Naive label.

Presented by traditional duo of Marie Drucker et Frédéric Lodéon, the Lyric Discovery of the Year was 28 year old mezzo-soprano Clémentine Margaine with another mezzo, Katherine Deshayes, taking home the Lyric Artist of the Year trophy.

Pianist Bertrand Chamayou, 29, was named Instrumental Soloist of the Year and trombonist Fabrice Millischer, 25, named Instrumental Soloist Discovery. Composer Thierry Escaich won Best Composer honors for his work “Alleluias pro amni tempore,” his most recent composition for chamber orchestra and chorus. He was also a winner of the same award in 2003 and 2006. Best Recording of the Year went to Pierre-Laurent Aimard for his album of the Ravel Piano Concertos with the Cleveland Orchestra under Pierre Boulez.

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