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10 Years of the Qobuzissime: The Early Years (2011 - 2016)

By Jessica Porter-Langson |

Sadly (or gladly), the year 2021 is almost over... and whilst we wait patiently for the slew of exciting new releases to come in 2022, let's revisit some of our editors’ favourite albums as we celebrate the 10th birthday of our Qobuzissime Award!

What is a Qobuzissime?

For those new to Qobuz, a Qobuzissime is a distinction awarded by our team of music experts at Qobuz for an artist's first or second album. Pop or reggae, metal or classical, jazz or blues, no genre is excluded. A Qobuzissime is usually awarded to an up-and-coming artist, or sometimes to a particularly unique record, a crossover project or an offbeat release. Beyond just a review or an article, a Qobuzissime is the highest compliment our team can give an artist for their release, for we truly believe that the album we promote is something the world needs to hear.

It seems that our experts have quite the ear for excellent music as many of our past Qobuzissime winners have gone on to be the next big thing. Take, for example, our January 2021 Qobuzissime winner Arlo Parks and her album Collapsed in Sunbeams, which went on to win the 2021 Mercury Prize, or our pick of Coming Home (2015) by Leon Bridges which received a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album. With our taste-making in mind, let us take you on a trip down memory lane as we revisit the early years of the Qobuzissime: from 2011 - 2016

2011: Pedro Soler and Gaspar Claus - Barlande

A flamenco guitar and a cello... a father and his son. Barlande is a demonstration of the talent that runs deep in the veins of this family fusion... it is musical lava. The fire of Pedro Soler's flamenco reflected in Gaspar Claus' four tense strings is far from clichés and far from preconceived ideas. The discussion between the two men is colourful, powerful yet both calm and furious. An atypical duo for a hypnotic record, which is just a precursor for Gaspa Claus’ success as a contemporary cellist, as demonstrated by our September 2021 Qobuzissime awarded to him for his debut solo album.

2012: Isabelle Faust - Berg - Beethoven: Violin Concertos

Isabelle Faust's recording career is exemplary. After her recordings devoted to Brahms, Beethoven and André Jolivet, she offers us an exciting coupling, and the companionship of an already legendary conductor, Claudio Abbado, here at the head of his Mozart Orchestra! Everything in this album that Qobuz is proud to present in 24-bit Studio Master quality, is exceptional. Berg’s direct quoting of Bach in the final movement of the concerto, played by the sumptuous clarinets, is nothing short of a revelation, coupled with the beauty of Isabelle Faust's tone. The luxurious orchestral carpet that Abbado weaves for her - and of course this rather rare confrontation of two works that are touchstones for all the great violinists is thrilling.

2013: London Grammar - If You Wait

With obvious nods to the unfussy, reverbed guitar motifs of the xx, alongside Hannah Reid's beautiful, emotive vocal ability -- which rises and falls with an alarmingly disarming effect -- the album is a practice in refrain, where each song is pushed to the brink of an inevitable climax and achingly, no further. As our most well received Qobuzissime of the last ten years, it is no wonder that some seven years later, London Grammar are selling out shows worldwide.

2014: Alt-J - This Is All Yours

Not knowing which box to put Alt-J in is rather positive, isn't it? Especially with This Is All Yours, the second album of the band from Leeds (a quartet turned into a trio), although things are not much better as far as classification is concerned... We can certainly say that it's often pop, sometimes folk, occasionally electro, sometimes lyrical, sometimes stripped down, very much focused on the voice of its singer, but above all, experimentation is in excess at every turn on this album. In short, like Radiohead, Alt-J prevents the pop from going in circles, it is so much better and it is the pinnacle of what we look for in a Qobuzissime!

2015: Kamasi Washington - The Epic

Like its creator, Kamasi Washington's triple album debut, The Epic, is imposing, multi-faceted and aspiring to change music forever. A close collaborator with fellow innovatives Angelenos Stephen Bruner (Thundercat), Steven Ellison (Flying Lotus) and Kendrick Lamar, Washington's evolved vision mixes bebop, soul jazz, old school organ trio R&B, space jazz and fusion à la Miles Davis. Washington is a musical mystic who's fused his wisdoms and exposures into a debut that's not a product of the insular jazz bubble, nor a hip hop-jazz mashup, but instead three hours that somehow sound old and new in the same moment—a virtuosic musical statement, one constantly verging on genius.

2016: Lucas Debargue - Scarlatti, Chopin, Liszt, Ravel, Grieg & Schubert: Piano Works

In 2015, young French pianist Lucas Debargue set the classical world alight at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Although he took home ‘just’ fourth prize, he also received the coveted Music Critic’s Award (all disciplines). This is all the more impressive when you consider the sort of ‘anti’ child prodigy that we have on our hands here; Debargue is a musician who arrived very late to the piano, and is entirely self-taught. This album, recorded live, is delicate and sensitive, yet continuously captivating that clearly marks the beginning of a highly successful career for the pianist.

Tune in next week as we revisit some of our latest Qobuzissime's, from 2017 - 2021! In the meantime, discover the taste of Qobuz with our Qobuzissime playlists:
- Qobuzissimes of 2021
- 10 Years of Qobuzissime: Pop, Rock and Indie
- 10 Years of Qobuzissime: Classical
- 10 Years of Qobuzissime: Jazz
- 10 Years of Qobuzissime: Electronic