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Last Updated: Friday, 4 May 2007, 08:30 GMT 09:30 UK
McCartney scoops Classical Brit
Sir Paul McCartney
Sir Paul's oratorio took nine years to complete

Sir Paul McCartney has won the best album award at the Classical Brits for his fourth classical album Ecce Cor Meum (Behold My Heart).

The former Beatle saw off competition from artists including Sting, Katherine Jenkins, Alfie Boe and Bryn Terfel.

The award was voted for by Classic FM listeners and readers of its magazine.

"If you'd told me when I was a little boy growing up in Liverpool I'd be at the Albert Hall receiving this, I wouldn't have believed you," he said.

Lukewarm reviews

"How proud my mum and dad would have been," he added, before jokingly singing an opera-style high note and leaving the stage at London's Royal Albert Hall where the ceremony took place.

The Berlin Philharmonic and its conductor Sir Simon Rattle won the classical recording of the year award, receiving the honour for Holst's The Planets.

Anna Netrebko
Russian soprano Anna Netrebko was named singer of the year

Album of the year was the only award voted for by the public, with all the other awards chosen by classical music experts and critics.

Sting had been shortlisted for his lute album Songs From the Labyrinth.

But he was beaten by Sir Paul, who began writing Ecce Cor Meum in 1997 but had to halt work after the death of his first wife Linda the following year.

The oratorio in four movements with English and Latin lyrics was recorded last year at Abbey Road Studios in London and premiered at the Royal Albert Hall in November.

But it received lukewarm reviews from classical critics. BBC Music Magazine described the work as "agreeably inoffensive but in no way sharply distinctive".

Lifetime achievement

Gramophone Magazine said it was a "pseudo-classical project... the result is a creakily Victorian four-parter, both short-winded and constipated, hopping disconcertingly from one episode to the next in shades of grey".

Sir Paul's next pop album, Memory Almost Full, is out in June.

Sarah Brightman
Sarah Brightman presented the singer of the year award

The Classical Brits ceremony was hosted by Fern Britton, with performances from several artists including nominees Jenkins, Sting and Boe.

Sarah Brightman, who presented an award, turned up in an eye-catching feathered ballgown with huge platform shoes.

The Duchess of Cornwall attended the event, her first royal engagement following her hysterectomy in March.

"I've never been to this event before and I think it's fantastic," she said.

George Fenton picked up the composer of the year award for his music for BBC documentary series Planet Earth.

Benedetti, the BBC's Young Musician of the Year in 2004, was up for three awards - best album, best instrumentalist and best young performer - but did not win any.

Violinist Ruth Palmer was named young British classical performer for her rendition of Shostakovich's violin concerto number one. Singer of the year went to Russian soprano Anna Netrebko.

Sting, Trudi Styler and the Duchess of Cornwall
Sting (left) missed out on the best album award

Palmer, who had no record deal after finishing her studies at the Royal Academy and the Royal College of Music, raised thousands of pounds and hired a concert orchestra to record the Shostakovich, her favourite piece of music.

Other winners were Leif Ove Andsnes, who won instrumentalist of the year, and John Adams, named best contemporary composer.

The critics' award went to the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, the RIAS Kammerchoir and Rene Jacobs for Mozart's opera La Clemenza di Tito.

Conductor Vernon Handley was presented with the lifetime achievement award.

The awards will be broadcast at on ITV1 at 2300 BST on 13 May.

Classical Brits 2007 winners:

Best album
Paul McCartney - Ecce Cor Meum

Classical recording of the year
Berliner Philharmoniker/Sir Simon Rattle - Holst/The Planets

Singer of the Year
Anna Netrebko - Russian Album & Violetta

Young British classical performer
Ruth Palmer - Shostakovich/Violin Concerto No 1

Soundtrack composer of the year
George Fenton - Planet Earth

Instrumentalist of the year
Leif Ove Andsnes - Horizons

Critic's award
Freiburg Baroque Orchestra/RIAS Kammerchoir/Rene Jacobs - Mozart/La Clemenza di Tito

Contemporary composer award
John Adams - The Dharma at Big Sur/My Father knew Charles Ives

Lifetime achievement award
Dr Vernon Handley CBE

Sting on Classical Brit shortlist
02 Apr 07 |  Entertainment
McCartney says grief delayed work
24 Sep 06 |  Entertainment
McCartney premiere at Albert Hall
22 Sep 06 |  Entertainment
Domingo dominates Classical Brits
05 May 06 |  Entertainment


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