Monday, 2 January 2012

Results of PIANOMANIA POLL: Which is your favourite label for piano recordings?

Thank you for participating in the recently-concluded Pianomania Poll: Which is your favourite label for piano recordings. There was a decent voter turnout of 85 votes over three months, which was less than previously but nevertheless respectable. Maybe not everybody is a crazy record collector like Phan Ming Yen or Pianomanic.

1st place: Deutsche Grammophon (47 votes, 55%). Pollsters voted overwhelmingly for the German yellow label, which is not a big surprise given that pianists like Maurizio Pollini, Daniel Barenboim, Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, Vladimir Horowitz, Mikhail Pletnev and Martha Argerich all had their wares proudly paraded here. These days, DG is banking on younger talent like Helene Grimaud, Lang Lang (now flown to Sony Classical), Alice Sara Ott and Yuju Wang.

2nd place: EMI Classics and Hyperion (20 votes, 23%). Joint second is shared by two proud British labels. The former has had its share of great pianists including Alfred Cortot, Claudio Arrau, Georges Cziffra, Walter Gieseking, Edwin Fischer and Dinu Lipatti, and with Evgeny Kissin and Martha Argerich still on its books, it is doing well. Independent label Hyperion probably has the biggest share of pianophile's pianists - Marc-André Hamelin, Stephen Hough, Angela Hewitt, Steven Osborne, Leslie Howard, Hamish Milne, Nikolai Demidenko (once upon a time). Need one go on?

3rd place: Decca / Philips (19 votes, 22%). Not far behind are the two great labels which have now merged. Vladimir Ashkenazy, Nelson Freire and Jean-Yves Thibaudet still do the business for the Brits, and it has the rising Benjamin Grosvenor in its books. Philips lives on a legacy that included Claudio Arrau, Alfred Brendel, Stephen Kovacevich (formerly Bishop), Zoltan Kocsis and Adam Harasiewicz.

4th place: Naxos / Naxos Historical (13 votes, 15%). Not bad for a super budget label, whose house pianists have included Jeno Jando, Idil Biret, Konstantin Scherbakov, Bernd Glemser (fine pianists all) and some younger names. Its historical re-issues, well-remastered recordings are a treaure trove that keeps on expanding. Recordings by Rachmaninov, Arthur Rubinstein, Horowitz, Benno Moiseiwitsch, Cortot, Friedman, Levitzky, Schnabel are just the tip of the iceberg.

5th place: Sony Classical (12 votes, 14%). The Japanese label that incorporated Columbia Masterworks and RCA has a piano discography that hinges on just two pianists, the multiple Gramophone Award winner Murray Perahia and the superstar who won't win any Gramophone Award soon, Lang Lang. Its back catalogue however boasts Van Cliburn, Rubinstein, Horowitz, Rachmaninov, Gary Graffman, William Kapell and Alexander Brailowsky. Not too shabby indeed.

6th place: Harmonia Mundi 6 votes (7%). The French label with strong American input specialises in period performance groups and early music, but has had some fine piano recordings over the years by Paul Lewis, Frederic Chiu, Alain Planes, Alexandre Tharaud, Cedric Tiberghien, just to name a few.

In the rear with fewer than 5 votes were Chandos and Piano Classics (4 votes), Appian or APR (3 votes, which is great with historical recordings and re-issues), Testament (2 votes, another purveyor of vintage recordings) and the now-inactive ProPiano (2 votes).

Thank you for your participation, and watch out for the next Pianomania Poll: Who is your favourite bald pianist?

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