Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s self-produced recording of Bach cantatas won record of the year honors Thursday at the annual Gramophone Awards.
The recording, on Gardiner’s Soli Deo Gloria label, developed from the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage in 2000 that took Gardiner around Europe with the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists.
Gardiner established his own label after Deutsche Gramophone pulled out of the project to record all 198 of the surviving sacred cantatas.
Bach inscribed each of the cantatas with the initials SDG for Soli Deo Gloria, meaning “to the glory of God alone.”
“Sir John Eliot’s Bach Cantata Pilgrimage in the millennial year 2000 remains one of the most ambitious and uplifting musical undertakings ever,” said James Jolly, Gramophone’s editor.
“Bach’s sacred cantatas remain among his least-known works but each one is a miracle of imagination, craft and spirituality and Gardiner responds to all the innumerable challenges of this astounding music.”
The record of the year was voted by Gramophone readers, retailers, critics and broadcasters, and by listeners to Classic FM radio in Britain and WQXR in New York.
Michael Tilson Thomas, music director of the San Francisco Symphony and artistic director of the New World Symphony, was honored as artist of the year.
Naxos was awarded label of the year, and the editor’s choice award went to Rachmaninoff’s complete piano concertos with Stephen Hough and the Dallas Symphony on Hyperion.