Howard Shelley to collect French award

Howard Shelley is to be awarded a Choc de l’Année award by the French music magazine Classica.

Howard Shelley

The British pianist will collect the award for his recording of piano concertos by Schumann, Grieg and Saint-Saëns at a ceremony on 3 December.

The recording, with the Orchestra of Opera North, has received positive reviews since its release in March 2009. Shelley took a fresh approach to the three concertos, directing them from the keyboard, which Classica called ‘a highly unusual step, but one which succeeds in formidable fashion’.

Shelley’s interpretation of the Schumann Concerto is revolutionary. He has reconsidered the tempos, selecting ones closer to those marked by Schumann, much faster than most performers play today. Shelley comments, ‘I feel it gives the work a passion (the Schumanns, after all, were just married and expecting their first child) and a tautness which the traditional practice of slowing the main theme sometimes misses.’

This year’s Choc de l’Année awards ceremony will take place at the Salle Pleyel in Paris on 3 December. Shelley will collect his award alongside 14 other recipients. It is the icing on the cake for the pianist and conductor, who started the year by gaining an OBE in the New Year’s honours list for services to classical music.